10 Effective Web Design Principles for Small Businesses

June 13, 2024

Justin Kerby

For many small business owners in BC, building a website is a scary endeavour. Knowing where to begin, what’s important, and how to build something as high quality as your products or services is no easy task. But with a little bit of education and an expert guide, taking the journey through the world of web design might actually be an adventure that you enjoy. And it’s a journey worth taking if you want your brand to stand out online.

Our Port Moody design & content studio has been helping local business owners in BC design stunning websites for over a decade, and we’re here to impart our wisdom to you in an easy-to-digest way–no developer speak.

Here’s our take on effective design principles for small businesses.

1. User-friendly navigation

By users, we mean people who visit your website.

Basically, the goal here to is to make sure your site visitors never feel lost. Your website’s top menu bar, where you list your services, a little about your company, your contact page, or anything else that’s important, should highlight the main reasons that people visit your website.

A search bar is needed on a large site with many products, but it’s not needed otherwise.

We always tell our clients to build a website that visitors would want to visit, one that answers their questions quickly.

2. Design for all devices

Making sure that a website looks good on all devices (computers, tablets, and phones) is incredibly important. We call this “responsive design” in the world of web design.

As you’re probably well aware, people no longer only use their computers to research companies. Your website should be designed to look good on all screens and sizes and give every visitor a great experience.

3. Fast loading times

If someone clicks on your company website in Google or types your web address into their search bar and has to wait more than a quick second to view your web page, there’s a good chance you’ll lose them. It truly only takes an extra second or two for people to move on to the next company.

Websites that load quickly improve the user experience, which in turn is a positive signal to search engines like Google that your website should be shown to searchers. 

You can improve speed by optimizing your website's images, leveraging browser caching, and minimizing code.

4. Clear Calls to Action

A call to action, or CTA, can be one of several things. Basically, it’s guiding your website visitors to take a desired action, like making a purchase, scheduling an appointment, or signing up for a newsletter. Your CTAs should be visually striking (think buttons that change colour when hovered over) with compelling language to encourage users to take the next step.

5. Quality content and copywriting

You want to engage your site visitors for two main reasons. First, and most obviously, you want people to have a pleasant experience on your website and make a purchase (or whatever your desired outcome happens to be). Secondly, engaging your visitors so that they stay on your website and take the appropriate actions, is a signal to search engines that you’re providing a good experience to your customers. In turn, this will allow you to rank higher in search engines, and bring in more site visitors.

It becomes a virtuous cycle, which is why it’s so important.

You should write about the products and services you offer and post new content regularly–blogs, articles, or guides, whichever style suits your audience. A content strategy will help you keep growing and attracting new website visitors.

6. Visual design and branding

Your website should reflect your brand identity through the consistent use of defined colours, fonts, and logo placement. Establish brand colours and fonts, logo styles, and stick to them. An aesthetically pleasing design will help build brand recognition and trust. It will also make you proud to show off your site.

7. Best practices for search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) ensures that your website is easy to find when people search for something you sell or offer. Following SEO best practices, such as adding specific tags to your content and images, getting other websites to link to your website, and submitting a sitemap to search engines are some of the more technical parts of a web design, but they’re crucial steps to helping people find you online.

8. Securing your data

Protecting user data is critical, especially for sites that handle sensitive information. Implementing SSL encryption, regular software updates, and secure checkout processes are essential for maintaining trust and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.

9. Think about accessibility

An accessible website can be used by everyone, including people with disabilities. Adhering to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by providing alt text for images, ensuring keyboard navigation, and using clear and resizable text, makes a website more inclusive.

10. Website data and an alternative to Google Analytics

Utilizing tools like Google Analytics to track website performance and user behaviour provides insights that can guide further improvements. If you look at your analytics, you can learn about the pages that attract the most traffic to your website, where people are most likely to leave your website, and how they’re interacting with your call to action. If Google Analytics is too intimidating, there’s a great tool called Fathom Analytics from a company on Vancouver Island that we’d recommend checking out. We’re not affiliated with them in any way, it’s just a great alternative to Google that we use for all of our clients at our Webflow & Design Agency, Something Great


If you follow the web design principles above, your small business will be well on its way to pleasing site visitors, drawing traffic from search engines, and showcasing your offering. Web design may seem daunting, but at the end of the day, it’s one of the most affordable ways that your small business can attract new customers and retain its existing customer base. That’s something worth exploring as you grow your small business.

Need help with web design? Contact us today.

Written by

Justin Kerby

Justin is the founder of Something Great Marketing, leading our Vancouver marketing agency. He specializes in content strategy, website design, and branding.

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