When strategizing for a web design project, it’s important to make a distinction between small business, and corporate approach. Small businesses, startups, brands and corporations all have different needs and goals for their websites user experience. To understand this on a deeper level, you have to explore the reasons why.

Small Businesses Market on Fewer Channels

Small businesses may only need to focus on a few channels such as social media, email, and website, perhaps also a blog. As a result, their small business web design only has to appeal to a narrow and specific audience. In comparison, corporations have marketing campaigns running on many channels, print, direct mail, native advertising, and billboards. As a result, they need their brand image and message to be consistent on their site. Serving a wider audience means designing a more complex user experience. Complex in sense of serving more than one journey but simple enough to keep users engaged.

There needs to be a fluid transition between multiple channels, especially since the target audience often looks for the brand online or the marketing campaign integrates the actual website. Of course, this doesn’t mean that web design can’t have unique elements. It just means that needs to be familiarity and a strong connection to the other channels, to truly function as an omnichannel tool.

Corporations Have to Appeal to a Larger Audience

Site infrastructure and dealing with a large amount of data require information architecture, in-depth user pathways, and user journeys analyses and strategies on the omnichannel consistency. Keeping authenticity is equally important. There are also considerations on the web accessibility and usability that is mandatory and expected. Larger audience presentations require more planning and info architecture. Omnichannel is a cross-channel strategy for content and visuals that organizations often use to improve their user experience.

While small businesses often target a small segment of a larger audience or a very specific niche audience. For example, the large technology company manufactures products that target many different audiences from home users, consumers who purchase premium equipment, to business to business sales. The company site design has to address a wide range of audiences through its brand.

That’s why corporate sites often require a design that has a strong brand identity. These companies spend a large number of hours strategizing on their branding campaigns and marketing messages, so their websites have to put their brand at the forefront and capture overarching brand promise. Corporate web design projects often require a broader approach whereas small businesses web design projects require a more focused approach.

Corporate Sites Require a Tighter Website Structure

Corporations often own multiple sub-brands, subsidiaries, and/or have large product lines. This can make it more challenging to create a site structure that’s organized and categorized properly. The process often requires an audit of all the product lines and products that are being sold by the corporation or its subsidiaries.

Small businesses or a startup can be more liberal with how their sites are structured. They can approach their structure using a message to market match because their websites perform better targeting a specific audience. There are fewer pages which means that site structure is often simpler. The pages can also be designed to lead visitors down a conversion path.

Corporate Websites Do More Than Just Sell

Most small business websites have two primary goals. One is to generate leads and the other is to generate sales. As a result, a linear design approach that is focused on getting the conversion often works the best. A good example of this is the main page that has a sales letter designed to sell the core product or service. It may also include an offer for a free report or trial to generate the lead and follow up with the lead in an attempt to close the sale.

Corporate websites often have multiple goals. Obviously, it will have the same conversion goals as small business websites. Corporate websites have to go beyond that and facilitate relationships with possible vendors, business partners, and investors. Corporate websites need to follow up on large branding campaigns to continue the story. The websites also need to tell the brand story and message in a way that is meaningful for the visitor.

And speaking of telling the brand story, many corporations want to use storytelling design to resonate with their visitors. They want to elicit strong emotions, establish credibility, and develop an authoritative position for their brand. Many corporate website designers are able to create such a unique experience by creating an immersive story that is visually driven and engaging (videos, transition effects, scroll effects, high-quality photos, mouseovers, etc.).

To summarize, there are significant differences in how you need to approach corporate websites and small business websites. You can’t expect a small business web designer to meet the needs and expectations of a corporation, the team is needed to accommodate these projects. Corporations often work with agencies and agencies sometimes bring in freelancers to fulfill some aspect of the project or bring-in certain expertise. This is not the same as in that setting freelancers work as a part of a collective. And collective typically have project leads that are more experienced in executing large scale site restructures, keeping everyone on the same page, and delegating project tasks accordingly.