Franchise websites aren’t like other websites – they don’t have only one audience in terms of their location. This not only means that franchise organizations need multiple local websites and a general one, but also that there has to be authentic and consistent content for all those web pages.
If you’re planning on designing a website for a franchise organization – fear no more. We have 7 tips that will help you build a highly effective website for this kind of business.
Enable easy switching from general to local websites
Website navigation is one of the most important elements of web design in general. People are so impatient and quick to judge these days – if they don’t see what they’re looking for in a split second, they abandon the website.
This need for simplicity and effectiveness is even more pronounced when it comes to franchise organizations. Once they decide they’re going to purchase something from the brand, they will want to be transferred to the local website as soon as possible.
To overcome that, you’ll need to structure your website in a way that allows the users to easily locate and contact the nearest store. This will not only keep them engaged but also encourage them to make a purchasing decision.
Pay attention to the UX of the navigation
Franchise organizations typically have multiple local websites and one general website. Because of that, web designers tend to believe that the UX design of all websites should be the same. After all, they’re all under the same brand, no?
Well, not exactly.
Users expect different things from the same brand when they visit local and general websites in the franchise organization. They visit the general website when they want to know what the brand is about and a local one when they’re looking to purchase the products or services.
For that reason, the general website’s menu should display the products clearly in the navigation. This will help users understand what the brand is about in one glance.
Local websites, on the other hand, should be more focused on what they’re offering locally. You should also include pricing, events, and reviews that are specific to that local store, and of course, contact information and the location of the store.
Consistency is key
Ensuring that the way a franchise organization is presented remains the same across all marketing channels is key to building brand loyalty and standing out from the competition.
In web design, this means that you’ll use identical colors on all local and general websites. Each time someone visits the website, they’ll feel a surge of emotions solely based on the colors you use. Furthermore, being consistent with colors helps the website look clean instead of unfocused.
Using the same fonts across all websites is also important. The little things matter – people often notice something is „wrong“ when you incorporate different fonts. Of course, we also advise you against using multiple fonts on the same website. It’s just way too confusing.
At last, the company’s logo is probably its signature sign and something many believe is what branding is about. Of course, that’s not true because branding is more than a logo, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
Make sure to place the logo near the top left corner on both the general and local websites because this is where users typically look for it.
Implement a franchise locator
Users that are ready to purchase the company’s products or services often want to know where they can find the nearest store. Sure, they could buy things online, but many people still want to see things in person.
The easiest way for them to find out where the stores are located is by using a location finder.
A location finder helps potential customers easily navigate to the location they’re interested in.
Trying to reach customer service just to ask where the nearest store is often frustrating– not everyone likes to make phone calls. A location finder, on the other hand, helps people find the information they need on their own.
Bonus points: add Google Maps to your website. Google Maps is mobile-friendly, which will make navigation a smooth experience for your users.
Some franchise organizations also have a geo-location feature that detects the user’s location and points them to the nearest store’s local page.
Take care of the local SEO
Search engine optimization is important not just for general websites but also for local ones. Sure, your strategy will differ, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one for local websites.
First things first, the copy should feature localized keywords like neighborhood or community names, addresses, and traffic directions. This is especially important when you’re explaining the store’s location – just think of how users may be searching for your products and services in Google.
Also, make sure to use localized keywords in other relevant places, such as the URL, titles, and meta-tags, as well as any local content you’re creating. For instance, we advise you to insert your brand name, product or services, and your location in the title section.
Create a blog
People who say blogging is dead don’t know what they’re talking about. Sure, it’s not the same as it was 10 years ago, when we didn’t have influencers and social media platforms, but it has definitely evolved.
Many franchise organizations, including franchises for veterans, have blog sections on both local and general websites.
General websites should cover the brand’s milestones, press releases, and general information in their blog section.
Local websites, on the other hand, should have different content: they could post about what’s happening in their particular store and community. For instance, a local website should feature news about one of the local stores expanding, especially if they plan on offering a discount on the day of opening.
All that looks very simple, but it isn’t. Creating new blog content is time-consuming, which is why designing a blog section that’s easily managed should be the designer’s priority. Franchise organizations should be able to add or remove a blog as they please, with no complications.
Use one domain for general and local websites
Franchise organizations don’t necessarily need to have one domain for general and local websites. But, this approach is not the best one.
Franchise organizations tend to grow and spread around the world. This means they will need to create new local websites as they grow. Each time that happens, it will become harder to maintain consistency across design, SEO, and copywriting using the separate-domains strategy.
Because of that, we believe franchise organizations should use one domain for general and local websites.
Basically, you’ll need to create multiple microsites – sections of the main website that have their own persona-dedicated pages, navigation, and usually their own subdomains. This will allow franchise organizations to easily make web design changes to both general and local websites.
For instance, if they decide to change the colors, they won’t need to go through all of those websites separately – it’s just a few clicks away.
As you can see, franchise web development is not as complicated as it seems. It all comes down to maintaining consistency while providing unique content that is SEO-friendly.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.