Website Design and Development: The Key Strategies to Know

Website Design and Development: The Key Strategies to Know

Are you a small business wondering how to go about designing a website?

You might be relying on your Facebook page as a substitute, or even wondering if you need a website in the first place. Have you considered the price you’d pay for not having one?

Website design and development involves a large devotion of time and energy, but the rewards are huge. Shockingly, almost half of entrepreneurs still don’t have a small business website. Furthermore, only a third of those who do, use their website to communicate news to customers and leads.

If you don’t want to see your small business screaming into the void, it’s time to consider a website. If you don’t have one, how will you win customers from the half of your rivals that do?

We’ll explain how to know your audience, develop a strategy, hone your content, and track the results. Read on!

Know Your Audience

When you’re designing a website, the first thing to keep in mind is your target audience. If you have anything less than a crystal-clear image of your buyer persona, then you need to first invest time in researching the profile of your typical customers.

Once you have established a firm understanding of who you are aiming your website towards, you are better able to be in-sync with them. Successful website design and development will require accurate information to feed every stage of the process.

When you’ve internalized a personification of your average buyer, creative decisions, like tone, color, and imagery, flow with relative ease. If your small business has never conducted audience research, then the results will uncover a wealth of knowledge to define or evolve your brand identity.

It’s important to note that after defining and establishing the tone of your business, you should be consistent throughout the website. Staying “on brand” ensures that your message resonates with clarity and cohesion. Website visitors are all too easily distracted and don’t need much of an excuse to get confused and leave.

Research the websites of your successful competitors, who will have invested resources in honing their messaging already. Identify what is working for them, but also uncover gaps in their strategy. You can incorporate these findings to meet and exceed the competition.

Mood boards are useful to visualize creative approaches and see how well ideas communicate.

Develop a Strategy

Website design strategies that work focus on one primary goal and secondary goals that reinforce the main-agenda.

The primary goal of a small business website might be to turn leads into customers. A secondary goal could include turning existing customers into repeat business. The third goal of your website may center on engagement – encouraging your visitors to share your content on social media, for instance.

A simple layout wins in nearly all cases at capturing the limited attention of your target audience. It’s important to have a responsive website design. This entails having your website optimized to resize and restructure for various browsers and platforms.

Desktop users were once the majority of website visitors, but now, the lion’s share of site viewers will use various mobile devices. Tablets and phones of all shapes and sizes mean that a flexible and adaptable design is essential.

Map out the buyer journey when conceiving the structure of your website. Create a flowchart to prototype your site so that important pages are easy to navigate. Later, a more detailed sitemap can come together as the structure becomes more fully formed.

Attention, Interest, Decision, and Acquisition (AIDA) is a principle that can help shape the buyer funnel. 

Focus on Content

There’s another variant of the AIDA principle: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This can work within the website pages themselves to ensure that all selling pages are effective at driving action.

A website built in a content management system (CMS) like WordPress will make it easier to create, delete, and maintain content.

Choose appropriate keywords that are popular in your industry, and build your website contents around them. Use them in the title, meta descriptions, and headings, but don’t over-insert them awkwardly. Your copy must have a human linguistic flow so that search engines can easily read and index your pages.

Create regular content with a focus on your keywords to increase your organic search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. Your goal should be visibility high in the results on the first page of Google, for your industry and in your area. Regular articles, written in a blog format, are very effective at accomplishing this. 

When developing a website, make sure that the information on each page is presented in an easy-to-read fashion. Good use of white space is important, so as not to overload the eyes.

Break up the copy so that it is most effective in a hierarchical sense. Frequent one-line spaces between paragraphs make the copy easy to scan. Keep paragraphs 2-3 sentences long for the same reason, and make good use of headings, subheadings, etc.

Track Results

Winning website development strategies often treat all pages as if they were landing pages. Sometimes, unexpected pages may rank very well, causing high numbers of visitors to land on them.

By tracking your results using Google Analytics, you can optimize these pages further still. Website speed is important so as not to lose visitors who might get frustrated by the loading time. Website analytics are useful at monitoring performance and engagement.

It’s a good idea to have a call-to-action (CTA) at the top of pages, perhaps in the menu. This CTA is intended for buyers who are further along in the decision-making process. A second and more prominent CTA would be well-placed near the end of the page contents, with the rest of the page built around it.

A/B testing involves serving up two slightly different pages to a split audience. The page style with the best results wins.

Remember, the goal of any website geared around selling is to win out over the competition. Competitive analysis tools are useful in website design and development to serve this objective. 

Finally, you must always evolve and tweak your website because a successful website is never a finished, static entity.

Website Design and Development

We’ve shown that website design and development requires careful planning if you want to hit your goals. Don’t be overwhelmed by the hard work that’s necessary to beat your competitors.

If you’re a small business owner developing a website, we can help you. We specialize in website design and provide creative marketing services to small businesses across the nation. Our core services are web development and hosting, but we also offer custom photography, videography, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Contact us today, and we’ll connect you with your audience.

Photography [3 Considerations for Small Business]

Photography [3 Considerations for Small Business]

Commercial Photography Services [3 Considerations for Small Businesses]


Well-executed photography is a powerful tool in engaging your customers.

Taking time to plan and shoot commercial photography that highlights the emotional core of your product or service can create a response that resonates with your customer and earns you more business.

Photography can capture the attention of your potential clients or patients much faster than captions or website copy. Think about it, there’s likely been a time when you’ve double-tapped a dozen or more photos on Instagram before you even started to read the captions. 

Beautiful images are easy to digest and tell a story without saying a word. 

A picture truly is worth a thousand words and that is why custom photography can be so important to a small business’ marketing strategy. 

Yet, as budgets ebb and flow, creative marketing services (like web design, photography, and videography) are among the first to feel the belt-tightening. 

If you’ve found yourself asking “does my business need commercial photography services,” you’ve come to the right place!

Read on to learn about custom photography services and how you can begin using it to grow your small business marketing plan.

Custom Photography vs. Stock Photos

Many brands will spend countless hours fine-tuning their product/service offerings to differentiate themselves from the competition. Yet, when it comes time to choose a photo for a website or social media, many small businesses find themselves scraping at the bottom of the barrel to find a high-quality picture that accurately represents their brand and vision. Some may even be tempted to opt for stock photography. 

Unfortunately, stock photography just won’t cut it anymore.

As the name implies, stock photos are readily available to anyone for purchase. While it can be a cheaper option in the short-term, you can run into some serious problems. 

Despite the millions of stock photos that exist for purchase, the industries highlighted are fairly generic. This means your competition could just as easily be using the exact same photo as you. That quickly takes your brand from original to ordinary and destroys your ability to separate yourself from the crowd. 

stock photo vs custom photography

Custom photography, on the other hand, highlights your company’s products, office, staff, clients, etc. This makes custom photography services more personalized and customizable.

Ways to Use Custom Photo Services

Photos taken during a commercial shoot aren’t just for one time use. In fact, having an archive of images that your business can use on social media, in digital marketing campaigns, or for traditional print ads can greatly benefit your team for years to come. Let’s take a look at some benefits of using custom photos.

Across Your Website.

Engaging photos enable your business to grab the attention of both information seekers and casual browsers alike. In fact, hiring a photographer to shoot custom images of your product or service has been proven to significantly improve the user experience of websites.

As users browse your site, photos can go a long way in gaining buy-in for your brand. Some commercial photography — like office shots — is functional in that it gives customers a sense of what to expect when they arrive at your practice/office. Other types of photos, like professional headshots and product photos can help establish trust and openness, removing any feelings of uncertainty that a customer may have in advance.

On Social Media.

Because our brains are programmed to respond so quickly to pictures and color, in contrast to other types of information, an image is an almost invincible draw on social media.

If you want your small business to stand out from the crowd, it’s important to develop social media visuals that reflect the same quality offered by your products services.

In E-Newsletters. 

Email marketing is all about getting your customers to respond to and engage with what you send. As you’ve probably guessed by now, images have the potential to make people stop and give your content a second look.

That said, using high-quality images in email marketing is a delicate balance. If your images are too large, they may cause loading errors while too many images in general (regardless of size) may cause your message to end up in your customer’s spam folders.

Planning Your Photoshoot

When it comes to scheduling a professional photography shoot, there are several considerations to be made to ensure the best outcome.

Choosing a Photographer

When it comes to choosing a photographer, you’ll have a wide array of options ranging from freelance photographers to full-scale creative agencies.

Generally speaking, freelance photographers are best to use on one-off-shoots, whereas, agencies are better suited to longer-term projects. If your business has plans to create/update a website with your photos, it would be most beneficial to hire an agency that can handle all of these projects (photos included) under one team. This gives you the most bang for your buck!

The other benefit of choosing an agency is that you can rest assured knowing they have the capacity to handle multiple clients at one time.

Scheduling Your Shoot

At Harris + Ward, our typical photoshoots are planned to last 4 to 6 hours. Though this may seem like a long time, it moves very quickly!

We will start by taking care of any schedules headshots for your staff or customers. Then, we’ll spend time gathering candid shots that show you/your team in your natural environment. For most business photoshoots, our goal is to capture the authenticity of your brand through normal day-to-day interactions.

Following Safety Protocols

As many businesses struggle to return to “normalcy” in the face of new health and safety protocols, we often get asked, “can I schedule a photoshoot during COVID?” The answer is yes!

“For us,” explains Harris + Ward Partner, Bradley Nolan, “it is important to document the changes brought about by COVID but we also want to continue to focus on your business’ interactions with clients.” Though this may look a bit different, with proper social distancing measurements you can still showcase your brand in creative ways.

“You can imagine everyone wearing masks in the photos makes that a bit more difficult to get,” Nolan notes, “but, we are working harder than ever to help our clients prepare for shoots by notifying patients, staff, and customers ahead of time.” This allows everyone to prepare for the shoot and make any necessary arrangements to ensure everyone is comfortable throughout the shoot.

Finding Custom Photography Services

If you have great photography that is on-brand and high quality, you’ll connect with your ideal clients in an instant. Photos of your business allow you to show your staff, work environment, services, and products in a way that cannot be achieved with stock options.

To schedule your own custom photoshoot or inquire about other creative marketing services, contact us today!

3 Benefits of Working with a Certified SEO Agency

3 Benefits of Working with a Certified SEO Agency

Google Analytics Explained [Plus, 3 Benefits of Working with a Certified SEO Agency]

Written by Lesley Goodaker, Digital Marketing Manager

The importance of Google’s marketing tools has grown tremendously over the last decade. Today, any business that wishes to grow its search engine rankings must make use of these tools — and for good reason.

Google Analytics is one of the many tools that Google provides to help business owners understand what visitors are doing on their website. Like, Google Ads, Analytics is an essential component of any business’s marketing toolkit.

What is Google Analytics?

Google has one of the most well-known analytics reporting platform for tracking web performance. Serving as a host for data collection, the platform can gather a wide range of data about your site and the visitors who use it. The best part — Google Analytics data is not presented as raw data but in the form of custom reports.

Using a tracking code, Google Analytics reports back to a central dashboard which provides a visual representation of site data in real-time (or by a specific date range). These are designed to make it easy to identify patterns and gain insights about your performance.

Why is it Important?

The insights you gain from Analytics reports can be a valuable tool for improving your site performance. Rather than operating on guesswork, you can set up goals with concrete objectives, including:

  • Identifying the pages that convert bestThis can be particularly beneficial to business owners looking for enhanced eCommerce, improvements on a contact form, or to improve bounce rate.
  • Understanding the origins of your site’s referral traffic. Referral traffic is Google’s method of reporting visits that come to your site from sources outside of its own network. This can be helpful in learning about your audience and their interests. 
  • Tracking the location of your site visitors. Using your users’ IP addresses, Analytics can help you identify where your traffic is coming from (geographically speaking). This can be a great asset for determining lead potential.
  • Determining how many new (and returning) users visit your site. Tracking your ratio of new to returning visitors can help you better understand the function of your site for customers. Are new users using your site to gather information about your services? Are returning customers using your site to contact you?

But, that’s just the start. To the untrained eye, the admin menu and functions can be overwhelming, As a result, many business owners simply choose to not set up Google Analytics. That’s exactly what you don’t want to do!

What if I Don’t Have the Time to Get Certified?

As a small business owner, it’s very likely you already have too many hats to wear. The last thing you want to do is invest your time (and money) in learning the ins and outs of a platform as cumbersome as Analytics.

So, how can a time-starved business owner still benefit from Google Analytics? Simple — enlist the support of an agency (like Harris & Ward) that is trained in the management of Google platforms. 

We are proud to offer search engine optimization services for small businesses that are backed by team members who are Google Analytics certified. Using the expertise of trained digital marketing experts, we take your site’s data and turn it into real results.

After all, the greatest value of Analytics is not in the data itself but in the actionable takeaways for your business. 

Benefits of Google Analytics Certification

While virtually every self-proclaimed marketer on the planet is using some form of Google Ads or Analytics, few of them are actually certified.

Google certification programs have long been an industry standard for gauging a marketer’s competence in different areas of digital marketing. However, with the wealth of information already available online, many people fail to see the point in certification.

Though analytics is easy enough to use for beginners, with proper attention, it stands to be a very powerful tool in the hands of knowledgeable users. That’s why we’ve compiled the 3 most compelling benefits of Google Analytics certification.

  1. Better business practices. During training, students learn the nuances of Analytics and how to best manage Google Analytics custom features and tools. While any marketer or business can access Analytics, SEO professionals that are certified by Google are held to a higher standard than others in the industry and operate according to Google’s best practices for account management.
  2. Ongoing education. To maintain status, individuals (or agencies) must retake their certification annually to ensure they are well-versed in the latest and greatest technology. As a result, certified marketers are being encouraged to practice continuing education in order to maintain their status. This ultimately ensures you are benefitting from the most contemporary SEO tools and services. 
  3. Improved strategy. Certified professionals must be well-versed in all features of Analytics including keyword research, competitor research, site performance, and much more. When you’ve learned how to properly set up and navigate an Analytics’ property, you’ll be well on your way to making better recommendations and business decisions on strategy implementation.

So, why wait? Contact us today to discuss how Google Analytics can benefit your business today!