The sheer number of elements comprising a typical small business website leaves open the possibility of all sorts of design inconsistencies. Meanwhile, one of the hallmarks of a trustworthy site is its appearance.
This is why your small business website needs a style guide.
Establishes Your Design Standard
A style guide document dictates the overall look of your website. Your style guide tells designers, writers and developers what colors should be used and where. It establishes the point sizes for headlines and body copy, as well as the fonts to be used. It also prescribes the voice of your content, the alignment and justification of text, and the sizing and placement of photography.
Puts Users at Ease
As we mentioned above, people tend to gauge the validity of a site by the way it looks. Design inconsistencies can have a definite effect on your users—whether they realize it or not. As they’re interacting with your site, they will feel that something is “off” when one page looks significantly different from another. While they might not be able to verbalize the effect, it will weigh upon their subconscious, creating confusion and leaving visitors thinking less of your brand.
Imagine a site of 100 pages or more with no governance regarding the appearance of buttons, form inputs, navigation systems, headings and body copy.
This is exactly what you’d get if you left the ongoing maintenance and updating of your website to a team of individuals with no clear parameters in place defining the usage and design of these items.
Now, consider how much it would cost in terms of designer costs and lost opportunity to go back through the entire site to correct those flaws. It’s far better to have a set of guidelines in place that the team can refer to ensure the main elements of your site look consistent.
Leaves Room for Expression
At first glance, working from a style guide might seem constricting and the recipe for a site with no variety. But that is not true. Every form of expression has guidelines to which it adheres in order to communicate effectively. Music works within a certain framework, so does architecture and every other type of art. Talented people find ways to express themselves within those guidelines. The same is true in web design.
What’s more, variation will happen organically. The different pages of a site serve different functions. Your home page looks different from your product landing pages, which in turn look different from your “team” and support pages, and so on. And yet, they all have certain features in common, unifying them as parts of a whole site. Ultimately, this is why your small business website needs a style guide.
The good news is many of the basic design decisions are already in place when you build your site with templates like those provided by Yahoo Small Business. Even better, they are also readily customizable so you can still get a look that is all your own—with no coding skills whatsoever. Turn your idea into a beautiful website today!