All popular business website designs today were once a budding startup. They neither had huge teams of product and design engineers nor did they have a promising budget to invest in the design of their websites. Despite a minimal budget and design limitations, they came up with simple yet credible small business website design. Here are some examples of popular small business website designs that went viral:
The initial design of Facebook in 2004 that was available only to the Harvard University raised many questions. The design used an impression of a face in the header, phrases like popular consumption that were not properly understood, enclosed titles in brackets and so on. Despite a poor small business website design, Facebook provided a revolutionary mode to connect people with their peers at that time. The initial release focussed on the Harvard community and captured real human interest as an online social network. The usability of Facebook made users neglect the early design flaws in the website.
The initial design of Buzzfeed in 2006 was fundamentally different than how it looks today. The website had aggregated content highlighting popular news topics from other providers. Today Buzzfeed focuses more on producing engaging content with clickbait-style headlines. The initial design was similar to any content-oriented website. It did not provide a clue about the type of content you could find on the website. In short, the design did not convince a user about finding actual beneficial content! The current main page of Buzzfeed captures user emotions. It provides a cue so that the users feel a sense of humor, surprise, or disgust unlike older version of the website. Despite a poor small business website design in 2006, Buzzfeed was a popular open space and a one-stop shop to get viral content online. Buzzfeed was successfully and continuously able to provide valuable content that kept users engaged.
Reddit launched their initial interface in 2005. The design was exceptionally minimalistic with few features. There was no concept of comments or subreddits which are useful features in the current website. The initial version only allowed users to click links, submit links, and upvote/downvote. The design was simple and rudimentary. Despite an elementary design, Reddit made it big by focussing on community-building. Reddit provided a stream of interesting links consistently which enables users to easily browse interesting content.
When Uber was launched in 2010, most of users relied on booking their on-demand cabs via SMS. Uber came up with a small business website design to visually explain how it can provide a better option for cab booking. Initially, people had to use text interface and a computer to check real-time updates. Now, you can easily check the distance of the nearest car for instant booking. Despite design limitations in the early release, Uber succeeded with the combination of limited SMS and simple website design.
Twitter tactfully applied certain simple small business website design elements in its early design to draw user attention. It had a green sidebar that takes user interest to the sign-up section. Also, the example Tweets were focussed and straightforward for sharing minimal life details. The current version of Twitter is not limited to life observations. It is used for things like news, provocative statements, and even sarcastic remarks. At the time of its release in 2007, Twitter gained immense popularity as a microblogging tool to share casual information, personal anecdotes, and news.
Another major player that started small was Linkedin. Starting in 2000, LinkedIn served as a personal page of a user without many helpful visual features or infinitely scrolling news feed. It had a big orange box to encourage users for inviting connections and update their profile. But users visited LinkedIn to stay in touch with a professional network. Later, designers modified the design for these secondary concerns. Currently, LinkedIn provides a stream of updates as well as potentially interesting stories categorized by individual members to get instant notifications.
All these examples emphasize the fact that it is important to have a well-designed website but it is even more important to provide a product that can help users achieve certain goals. You may not have a website that works perfectly for all potential users, but you can still gain a user base by making the early adopters happy. People can look past early design flaws if you offer a valuable product. Also, do not underrate the effects of appropriate marketing and advertising.
Investing in good design and great branding can help your website go viral across multiple media. A small business website design can use viral marketing to it’s advantage. Viral marketing works by spreading an image or video from one user to another over the internet via social media or other sharing platforms. However, your viral marketing campaign must have following elements:
- The content should be easy to share and view across different social media channels.
- The content should be simple and focussed on a specific service, product, or promotion.
- The content must offer an interesting idea or engaging information to catch the attention of the target audience.
- The content should not focus on a small, specific audience but should address the masses.
Some products that have gained immense popularity for a simple small business website design and viral branding include Slack, Draw Something and Dropbox. Slack gained popularity without much marketing for its innovative yet simple design. Slack offered features like podcasts, blog posts, and group chat making them even more easy to use and available for free. Draw something again went viral for its innovative design and user-friendliness. Dropbox, despite offering an innovative service, did not gain popularity overnight. It went viral when the designers made some simple design choices making it more informative and user-friendly. Even a minimalist design approach can work wonders for your small business website design when used appropriately and served with usable content.