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If you don’t have a website, people start to wonder about you.
“What kind of business doesn’t have a website?”
“What are they hiding?”
“Why is the only place to find information about this business a Facebook page with one post and three terrible pictures?”
You don’t want people thinking that, and with small business, a website is a must.
A website is now almost as important as a storefront, and if you run an online business it literally IS your storefront. Which means having an effective, aesthetically-pleasing site design is one of the most important things you can do for your company. Hiring a web designer is a great investment, but inevitably they’ll ask you what you want your site to look like. And since you’ll need some inspiration, here are some of the best small business websites we’ve found.
This winner of the 2016 Webaward for Best Small Business Website touts an Atlanta-area carpet cleaning company in a remarkably straightforward way. The first thing visible when landing on the site are bright, noticeable icons explaining very clearly what Zeroez does. Each icon leads to a detailed page which describes why each cleaning service is important, the process Zeroez uses to do it, with a quick video to demonstrate the whole thing.
The fun part comes as you scroll down each page, where animation designed to mimic each cleaning method takes visitors through the process as they scroll down. The page gets “cleaner” as they scroll, effectively demonstrating the great work that Zeroez does. It’s a fun, simple, easy-to-navigate page that explains the business while at the same time giving potential customers a visual aid as to why its service is important.
UVE Rooms and Wine Bar
When you own a rustic inn and wine tasting room in the Italian countryside, you really don’t need much more than pictures to sell your product. But the images on this site will make literally every person who visits want to go to Italy, and to stay at this family-run inn. Big, panoramic shots of vineyard-covered hills greet visitors immediately, followed by equally-impressive images of the included breakfast, the wine room, and the spa.
The design is simple, yet makes an instant impression. Granted, the site is in Italian, and if your language skills are rusty navigation can be a trick. But assuming the target market here is Italians looking for a weekend away, the visuals and obvious information make a weekend here seem like an obvious choice.
Much like with any news story or blog post, a good website needs a hook to grab that audience. And this coffee subscription service based out of New York City gets visitors interested right away with a bold claim: “Brew better coffee. Pay grocery store prices.” Well, who wouldn’t want to know more about that?
Following that train of logic, the next section (visible without scrolling on a desktop) is “How does it work,” so visitors have their biggest question answered without even having to move the mouse. The site uses no-nonsense phrasing that really sells the product – Fresh roasted coffee, conveniently delivered, with a price-match guarantee. The visitor is sold without even having to click a link, and in terms of hooking an audience and giving them what they want, this site is a perfect example.
4 Rivers Smokehouse
Meat is always a great draw. And with a simple phrase “18 years to master. Yours to savor,” Florida’s pre-eminent barbecue chain has demonstrated its quality without having to say much of anything. The mouth-watering images tell the restaurant’s story, and get visitors excited to learn where they can find such deliciousness.
The design makes that information painfully simple to discover, with a “locations’ tab that not only takes visitors to a page that lists all 4 Rivers locations, each location also has a photograph to go along with it. The top navigation has simple tabs to peruse the menu and find out about catering, so anyone interested in consuming the glistening meat in the main images doesn’t have to go far to find it.
Selling people on grilled meat or the Italian countryside doesn’t even need words. Selling them on technological consulting for organizations concerned with major social issues is slightly more complicated. This firm has educated organizations from The World Bank to the U.S. House of Representatives on how data and technology affects what they do, and how they can leverage that technology to their benefit. Still sound complicated?
The site breaks down not only the big-name clients Upturn works with, but goes into simply-worded specifics of how they’ve helped. The font is large and readable, the copy is clean and easy-to-understand. And for a somewhat-complicated concept Upturn does a fantastic job of explaining itself without ever having to leave the landing page.
The Chopping Block Chicago
With a name like “Chopping Block” the uninformed visitor might think this cooking school to be anything from a steakhouse to a knife manufacturer. But questions are answered from the second a visitor lays eyes on the site, with a navigation bar on the top of the page explaining exactly what The Chopping Block does: “Classes, Party, Shop, Drink, Boot Camp.” Nearly all of which sounds fun, save maybe for the boot camp part.
A curious visit to any of these tabs brings visitors to full color images with simple, one-sentence explanations. Whether that’s cooking classes, private parties, week-long intensive “boot camp” courses or selling cooking utensils online. The combination of detail and simplicity paired with explanatory photographs makes this one of the best sites we’ve found for simple organization of complex information.
Even if you don’t speak a word of English, this boutique hotel in Seattle tells its whole story without leaving the landing page. First, it shows the hotel’s location with a sunset photo of the building only a few blocks from the Space Needle. The images then shift to a welcoming lobby complete with firewood-adorned common areas, then to spacious rooms to a modern-chic office space. Without having to look at a single review, you know exactly what to expect from the Hotel Andra.
The phone number and reservations link are impossible to miss, and the first link listed out from the landing page is to photos. Clearly, the Andra understands what people want out of a hotel’s website, gives it to them, and allows visitors to decide almost immediately whether this is a hotel they’d like.
If you’re a cat person or someone who loves them, this site might have the greatest email sign-up popup of all time. After navigating to the site, a pair of terrifying cat eyes pop up on the screen with the words “Obey your cat – Don’t make kitty mad” encouraging visitors to sign up for this cat supply site’s email list. And anyone who knows the evil hypnotic powers of a cat will enter their email without second thought.
That design gimmick aside, the rest of the site is so simple a cat itself could probably figure it out. The simple block categories “Sleep, Eat, Wear, Play, Litter” make navigation painfully simple, and the copious amount of cute cat pictures throughout the site keep cat lovers browsing even if they had no intention to buy. Cat Connection clearly knows its audience, and how to speak its language. And in terms of appealing to customers with a site designed specifically for them, this is an outstanding example.
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