You risk falling further behind your competitors if you don’t have a dedicated website for your startup or small business.

You may believe that you’re creating a fan base on Facebook (you’re probably squandering your money if you’re purchasing fans on Facebook through advertising), sharing small bits of content on Twitter, and posting photographs to Pinterest. You’re spreading your efforts and missing an excellent opportunity to engage and connect with your current and future consumers through a dedicated site if you don’t have a primary digital home.

After all, clients will want to discover more about your company’s products and services in the end, and a dedicated website will assist them in doing so.

We’ll talk about web design best practices and hints today.

We’ll point you to useful tools and examples, as well as recent web design improvements. It’s also a good idea to start with your homepage if you currently have a website but are thinking about redesigning it.

Some business owners are now concerned that the expense of web design would be unreasonably expensive.

Many design firms and agencies do, in fact, charge thousands of dollars for their services. However, this isn’t always the case (custom website design services at Crowdspring start at just $899, including all fees).

Here are our top ten suggestions for creating a fantastic website design.

1. Make the design basic, fresh, and one-of-a-kind.

Your brand is reflected on your website. When a visitor comes to your site for the first time, it is the first impression they will have.

If you use a pre-made design and your website appears like tens of thousands of others on the Internet, you’ll miss out on a chance to make a memorable first impression.

Why would a potential buyer remember your site after seeing dozens of others that look exactly like it?

We’ve heard from a number of business owners in recent months who built their websites utilizing one of the existing template sites.

Those business owners have realized that they need to differentiate themselves from their competitors as their companies have expanded. Their needs are no longer met by the template sites.

This comes as no surprise.

The homepage is usually the most significant page on a business website; when visitors come to your site, they will most likely view it first.

Furthermore, because most small business and startup websites have fewer than a dozen pages, the homepage serves as a critical anchor for the rest of the site. It needs to answer a few key questions, such as who you are and what you do.

This is something that template sites just cannot do well.

While some of the designs are visually appealing, they lack many of the utilitarian features that make a website useful and instructive for potential clients.

Consider the image you want to make on your consumers and potential customers, as well as the message you want to send.

Make sure you have a professional logo design while thinking about your website design.

A logo made from clipart or a template will be unoriginal and make a bad first impression. Worse, it could put you in serious legal trouble.

Some business owners spend money on a new website design but neglect to design a unique logo (or to update their old clip-art based logo). This is a chance that has been squandered.

Keep one essential fact in mind when deciding what material to publish on your homepage: consumers typically read only 28% of the words on a normal visit.

Don’t use a lot of text and photos on your homepage.

Remove everything but the most vital text and images you want your users to see. Many people make the mistake of trying to cram too much information into their homepage, which leads to confusion and a bad user experience. Not more, but less.

Consider that your visitors may be using laptops or smartphones to access your site, so avoid creating sites for large monitors or pages with sophisticated features or navigation.

Tip: You can use recent design trends to update the look of your website. Flat design, for example, has grown fashionable. If you’ve used an iPhone or iPad running iOS 7 or later, or Windows 8, you’ve seen flat design in action. Gradients and shadows are removed with flat design, making images and text smaller and easier to see. Simple animations (including cinemagraphs – live animated images/video), larger photos, graphics, more scrolling, and larger typefaces are among the other 2016 design trends. I recommend reading Top web design trends for 2016 for more information on 2016 design trends.

Consider using illustrations for a more refined look.

Despite the fact that photographs have long dominated online design, many websites are now including imaginative illustrations on their homepages. Illustrations can often elicit a more personal response from the consumer. Take a look at how Basecamp shows its support staff members through illustrations. Basecamp could easily have included images of each individual, but illustrations are more fun, unique, and reflect some personality.

Advanced Tip 1: After you’ve designed your site, do some quick tests to see which buttons, colors, and bits of content get the most clicks. Marketing is, after all, both a science and an art. I recommend reading 7 Dead-Simple A/B Tests You Should Run on Your Homepage for more information on A/B testing.

2nd Advanced Tip: Consider what action you want the user to do and design a prominent call-to-action button on your homepage, as well as any other pages where you’re attempting to persuade them to do something. I recommend reading 10 Techniques For An Effective ‘Call To Action’ for ideas on how to make innovative effective calls to action. To highlight distinct regions of the site, you should use simple textures and subtle gradients where possible.

The call to action (CTA) on your homepage is a crucial component in luring users deeper into your website.

When designing your CTA, keep the following things in mind: (a) location (above the fold – visible on the monitor when the page first loads is ideal), (b) make sure the CTA stands out from the rest of the content on your site (notice how the crowdSPRING “START A PROJECT” CTA is pink? ), (c) create a link to another page so that your call to action will draw the visitor deeper into your site, and (d) create a less-emphasized

It’s crucial not to cram too many CTAs onto your homepage (or any page, for that matter). Choose one or two and concentrate on them. If you have too many, you’ll produce a lot of noise for users, which will cause a lot of confusion.

I recommend reading 15 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See and 15 of the Best Website Homepage Design Examples for more nice landing page design examples.

2. Demonstrate your goods and services.

You’re attempting to sell a product or a service. Make sure the product or service is prominently displayed on your homepage. Many small business web designs have failed to successfully display their products or services, and others have attempted to showcase far too many products or services on a single page.

You only have a few seconds to establish a first impression, and you should ensure that it is a professional one.

If you’re selling things online, make sure your product photos – or graphical representations and descriptions – are clean, crisp, and acceptable. You can have a beautiful website design, but if your product photographs are bad, potential clients will be hesitant to buy your products. Take a look at how well-known internet retailers offer their merchandise (Amazon, Apple, Zappos are all good examples).

Consider employing photos of phones or computers and embedding your showcase images within those images if your product or service is web-based. People will be able to anticipate how they will interact with your product or service if you do this.

I recommend reading Showcasing The Design of Startup Websites for good examples of startup websites that highlight a specific product or service.

Tip: Don’t use too many photographs or graphics on your website. Although it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, photos may often be confusing and distracting. Choose a few good product images and highlight them on the homepage. On the interior pages, you can highlight your other products.

3. Keep an eye on the time it takes for a website to load.

When it comes to surfing websites, consumers are impatient, and long load times have a negative influence on conversions (getting people to buy your products or services).

If your site’s design is graphically intensive, you’ll need to make sure you have the necessary technology and bandwidth to support it.

This is especially important if you serve a large customer base and anticipate high traffic on your website.

By choosing reputable hosts, you may reduce the time it takes for your site to load.

Keep in mind that the cheapest monthly hosting package usually does not provide the best value. It may be inexpensive, but it is also likely to be inefficient and unreliable.

Want to see how fast two websites load in contrast to one another? You can utilize this free tool: whichloadsfaster.com

4. Make your website user-friendly.

Consider how visitors to your site with specific disabilities (such as color blindness) might learn about your products and services.

Consider how your site will appear to folks with slower internet connections. This is especially crucial for small businesses catering to local clientele, including rural small businesses – accessibility is one of the best ways to endear your company to such customers.

Maintain a consistent web design and navigation throughout the site. Don’t use various designs on different pages of your website. The overall layout and design of all the pages should be consistent. One of the most prevalent reasons that business owners would contemplate a site redesign in 2016 is because of this.

5. Make your site more user-friendly by organizing it.

Websites that are well-organized are favored by search engines.

People also enjoy well-organized environments.

Keep in mind that when people come to your website, they’re usually looking for specific information. They won’t read complete pages; instead, they’ll skim headlines and little sections of content, as well as look at photographs and graphics (but not all of them on the same page).

A well-structured website that offers information in a logical and organized manner will far outperform one that appears chaotic.

To offer vital information or to emphasize anything you want the readers to notice, use strong, easy-to-read typefaces and bullets.

Use text color to draw attention to the most critical information, but restrict the use of text color and fonts to a bare minimum. You aim to accentuate rather than perplex.

Remember that most people will disregard information if the headline above it does not pique their interest – therefore don’t overlook good headlines (more on that in tip 6 below).

Advanced Tip: Action buttons/links should be distinct and easy to understand. “Save” is not the same as “Submit,” for example. Consider what a user would expect when they click a button or a link, and make sure your labels do a good job of setting those expectations. Make sure your material contains whole sentences rather than individual words or phrases wherever possible. I recommend reading 17 Best Practices for Crazy-Great Call-To-Action Buttons for more information on effective CTAs.

6. Content is crucial.

You’re surely aware that search engines rank websites based on the content quality (and links). The more material you have on your site, the more appealing it is to search engines (more about search engine optimization in tip 9 below).

The content is also popular. In fact, poor content can drive a visitor to abandon your site soon. Don’t overlook headlines; they have a lot of power and can determine whether a reader reads the remainder of the information or leaves your site.

Maintain the content’s freshness and relevance. Visitors may rapidly abandon your 2016 website if it contains material from 2013.

Tip: Research your successful competition, particularly those who have been in business for a longer period of time than you. Examine their websites for information on how they market their products and services to current and prospective clients. Examine the site’s colors, voice, images, illustrations, and photos, as well as the overall organization. Don’t be scared to utilize more vibrant hues. People have always preferred muted hues, but in 2016, we anticipate to see more rich and vibrant colors. I recommend reading Start-up Tips: 10 Tips for Evaluating Your Competitors for further information and tips on evaluating your competitors.

Advanced Tip: Make your material more readable by utilizing higher font sizes. As screen resolution has increased, many displays now display smaller fonts that are difficult to read. Consider the font sizes you prefer for viewing/reading on some of your favorite websites. You probably prefer sites with larger fonts, with a few exceptions.

7. Recognize the distinction between design and development.

To create a website, you’ll need both a site design and a site development. Although some freelancers are capable of doing both, the abilities required for design and development are often distinct, so you may wish to hire separate persons for each task. Freelance web developers usually specialize in one of two areas: frontend or backend.

Frontend developers are primarily concerned with the client-side of your website, or what your visitors view when they visit. The interface between the server and the databases is normally the focus of backend engineers.

Scripting to allow your users to interact with the site, web server settings, and implementing e-commerce capabilities, such as a payment system, are all common tasks for backend developers.

Web design, information architecture, usability engineering, web content management systems, web server administration, database administration, software engineering, project management, network security, and search engine optimization are all skills that good freelance web developers have.

Tip: If you decide to hire a freelance website designer and/or developer, find at least three people (or businesses) and get thorough quotations from each of them. Remember to request a few examples of their previous work so that you can assess their style and experience. If you wish to explore crowdSPRING as one of your alternatives, we have some of the most brilliant web designers in the world.

8. Think about the domain but don’t get too caught up in it.

Visitors will receive essential information from your domain. It could tell them what your company does. It could also just be a simple way for folks to find your website. If you can’t find a URL that matches your company name, you can change it or discover an alternative URL that includes – or compliments – the name.

I’ve gone through the process of naming a firm several times, and it can be a frustrating affair. Try to choose a domain that is easy to remember, but don’t get too caught up in it. If you need assistance, crowdSPRING’s 210,000 creatives can help you come up with a great new company name (including a domain).

Consider how search engines and users will perceive your site’s URLs. Use natural-sounding names for your URLs and titles whenever possible (this is easy to accomplish when using content management systems, such as a WordPress blog). For example, the crowdSPRING site’s How It Works page includes the following simple URL: https://www.crowdspring.com/how-it-works/

9. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing should not be overlooked (SEM).

Efforts spent on one marketing campaign generally detract from other marketing initiatives for a small business.

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are highly specialized topics that take a lot of time to master.

Small businesses, on the other hand, can benefit greatly from SEO and/or SEM efforts, and as a result, they should not be overlooked.

Read 10 Practical Small Business SEO and SEM Marketing Tips for a great primer on small business search engine optimization and search engine marketing. I propose PPC Tips for Small Business Owners and How to Leverage Rich Media SEO for Small Businesses for more information. If you’re new to SEO, Moz’s The Beginners Guide to SEO is a great place to start.

10. Make your website responsive.

The percentage of online traffic originating from mobile devices is growing. In reality, several companies, such as Facebook, have more individuals accessing their website through a mobile device than using a desktop computer. This upward trend has been going on for years, and it is expected to continue in 2016.