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How to design a Great BID website for your Business Improvement District

Marketing Tips:
How to design a great BID website

Clive Hall

Design is not just how good your website looks. Yes, your Business Improvement District (BID) website may be one of the first things a visitor sees, but good design is more valuable – you need your visitors to engage with your content and then convert into visitors to your town. This blog explains how great website design can achieve these goals for the businesses in your BID area.

So what does BAD website design look like?

It’s too complex

If you have no clear message or a clear ‘journey’ for the user to follow when they land on your home page they will find your website confusing and make them unfocused

There is too much text

Many of us are told content is vitally important to attract visitors to the BID website by maximising the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) opportunities. However, having too many words particularly on the homepage can have a negative effect and has the potential to massively increase the bounce rate for your website. Less is more! Look at each sentence and if can be said in five words rather than 10, then do it. It has a much greater chance at being read

No clear call-to-action

Your business improvement district website should look to ‘convert’ each visit into a desired action. This may be to visit an event, download a voucher or sign up for a newsletter. A site which is overly complex stops the visitor from knowing what “step 2” should be

So, now let us take a look at some BID websites which feature some of the best web page design and why.

1. Dublin Town

As a design approach for a business improvement district consumer facing website, Dublin Town is one of my favourite examples to show. The layout is clean and simple with inspiring images and very little text, yet you immediately know as a visitor to the website, what you should click on next.

Here is the home page:

dublin town

The home page everything as it should be, including

  • A clear welcome statement, asking the visitor to check out local businesses with an image communicating the Dublin lifestyle
  • A clear call to action “Find Out More”
  • Minimal text
  • Clear and precise titles – “What’s on” and “Find”
  • Featured events which match the date of the website visit
  • Easy to understand what “step 2” is


2. Royal Leamington Spa

BID Leamington, the business improvement district for Leamington Spa has two web sites, one focused on BID levy payers and the second on consumers. Let’s take a look at their ‘shop and enjoy page’ on the consumer site.  The first web design best practice they use it to have a clear call to action – the store locator button. It is positioned right at the top of the page and has three clear search and filter actions – enter the name of the store, select the category or chose the brand you are looking for. It is likely every person who comes to this page will know what to do next.

In addition this page is a good example of what is known as “gateway design”. Rather than providing lots of detailed content, it gives you a high level overview of the available shopping and then helps the user to click through and see for yourself. This approach to design is simple and uncluttered. As soon as you hit the page you know what you are being asked to do – the page title says it all in just four words “GO ON – TREAT YOURSELF”

The most popular shopping categories are featured in the slider and in the ‘discover’ blocks beneath. A great feature, are the shopping guide downloads. This feature enables visitors to organise content in their own head by looking at the titles and take the content with them by downloading a pdf. A clear step “2” approach.

This page really does pass the eyeball test as well. A cluttered design results in your eyes making erratic movements, jumping around the page and not being able to focus or understand the message of the page. Here, your eyes only have four areas to look at – each providing shopping category titles and an easy click through to more detailed content.

Here is the page design: 2015-06-22 08-02-51

3. Nottingham BID

For our third site, let’s take a look at a site which is designed for business levy payers and  site visitors who want to find information about the Business Improvement District itself. The Nottingham BID site where they have taken a “less is more approach”.  Each feature is reduced down into very short web copy – a brief text overview and then a clear CTA e.g. read more.

Here is the home page design:

The site has full with imagery and a very obvious next step for every visitor – to find out more about the BID term 2016-2020.

This site shows visual hierarchy used at its best – a fundamental requirement of great website design. Visual hierarchy is underpinned by design functionality and usability by organising content and designing navigation of the page which quickly makes sense to the site visitor. On this page, the visitor is able to immediately organise the content available, what they should focus on first and then take the required action to find out more.

BID Nottingham has utilized visual hierarchy by including a top navigation bar with six easy to understand headings, a full screen width image bar attracting your attention with a clear call to action button beneath. Against the blue back ground the ‘Find out more’ button really stands out. The subsections beneath, have an image to capture the eye and clear titles, a short amount of text and then a call to action button – read more or enter here. You are left in no doubt about what you should do next. 2015-06-22 08-07-59

The Desired Result

By combining quality content with great website design will drive more visitors to the Business Improvement District consumer website, increase conversions and help your town succeed. A good website design will allow your users to understand what your town has to offer or what the BID does. It will enable the site visitor to access content that is most relevant to them and clearly shows what the next step they should take on the site. Investing in stellar web design is not an optional extra for your Business Improvement District, it is a must if you want to keep your town center alive and healthy.

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