Franchise Web Design: Website Best Practices in 2024
Your franchise website is the online gateway to your business, serving as a primary touchpoint for customers, potential franchisees, and other business partners.
However, building a franchise website can be a complex undertaking. After all, your site needs to effectively attract and convert new leads and customers, help increase foot traffic to your physical franchise locations (where applicable), and communicate a consistent brand identity.
Today, we’ll explore some critical elements of designing a successful franchise website and offer some tips for finding the right agency to support your web design needs.
The Challenge of Building a Franchise Website
The biggest challenge of designing an effective franchise website is balancing the needs of franchisors and franchisees all within one digital environment.
On the one hand, franchisors need the site to maintain a cohesive brand identity, ensuring that every visitor, no matter where they are, experiences the same core values, aesthetics, and messaging. This uniformity is essential for maintaining brand recognition, trust, and loyalty. Moreover, the franchise website needs to serve as a platform for overarching marketing strategies and as a recruitment hub for anyone interested in joining the franchise network.
On the other hand, a franchise website should provide individual franchisees the ability to tailor their specific location pages to the needs of local markets. This means allowing for the customization of content to showcase local promotions, events, and any location-specific service or product offerings. Localizing content is crucial to maximizing each location’s local search visibility.
Franchise websites typically achieve these varied objectives by using a flexible content management system (CMS) that supports centralized brand control as well as decentralized local customization.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some key elements of effective franchise web design.
7 Best Practices for Franchise Web Design
1. Create Dedicated Pages for Important Business Information
The main corporate section of your website should consist of different pages that organize information relevant to your entire franchise network.
In addition to your homepage, you might also include some of the following pages:
- About page: Outlining the history, mission statement, and core values of your company
- Franchise opportunity page: Explaining the process and showcase the benefits of becoming a franchisee
- Product or service overview: Providing a general overview of what the franchise as a whole offers
- Corporate news and press releases: Featuring information about any recent or upcoming milestones, events, and initiatives that impact the entire franchise network
- Contact information: Providing comprehensive contact details for your corporate headquarters
- FAQs: Addressing any questions people often ask about your franchise as a whole
- Careers page: Listing any current openings for those interested in corporate-level career opportunities
- Locations page: Providing a gateway for visitors to access information specific to different franchise locations (more on that below)
Incorporating these pages into your main corporate site will ensure that all stakeholders—from potential franchisees to corporate job-seekers to local customers—have easy access to the information they need.
2. Build Separate Pages for Each Franchise Location
On top of your “global” web pages, your franchise website should have a designated page (or even an entire subsection) for each of your locations.
This approach allows franchisees to tailor content to their local market, highlighting special promotions, unique services and products, and location-specific business information. This will provide a more personalized experience for local website visitors and enhance each location’s ability to rank for relevant local searches.
We recommend creating a separate subfolder within your website for each franchise location (e.g., www.franchise.com/nashville). This structure organizes your site in a clear and logical manner, maintains a unified user experience across your entire site, and lets you implement sitewide design and technical updates to ensure consistency.
Here’s an example of a location page within a subfolder for Chick-fil-A, Summer Avenue, Memphis.
3. Ensure Consistent Branding Throughout the Website
As a franchise owner, protecting your brand’s reputation is paramount. The strength of your brand not only motivates new franchisees to join your network but also drives customers to buy your products or services.
For this reason, it’s vital that users who visit your website experience the same brand identity no matter which page they land on. Visual design elements, typography, tone of voice, formatting, and product or service presentations should remain consistent throughout your site.
However, maintaining this level of uniformity can be tricky when individual franchisees have the freedom to update and manage their own location pages. That’s why it’s worth creating in-depth brand guidelines to mitigate any deviations from your online brand identity.
You can learn more about creating brand guidelines in our guide to franchise branding consistency.
4. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
It’s hard to overstate the importance of ensuring your franchise website works just as well on mobile as it does on desktop devices.
In 2023, over 45% of all U.S. internet traffic came from mobile devices. And as of October 2023, Google only considers the mobile version of websites when determining organic rankings.
In other words, even if your site works perfectly on a desktop, your desktop rankings can take a hit if the mobile version of your site isn’t up to scratch.
Page speed is one of the biggest factors affecting the mobile user experience. The faster your site loads, the less likely users are to bounce. You can easily test your site’s loading times and diagnose any speed issues using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
5. Implement Intuitive Website Navigation
Giving visitors clear and simple navigation options is another essential ingredient for creating a seamless user experience.
Intuitive navigation ensures that users can easily find the information they need, whether they’re looking for general corporate information, specific products or services, or local franchise details. The goal is for visitors to grasp the overall organization of your site within seconds of landing on it.
Here are some ways to facilitate users’ ability to quickly find the information they need:
- Logical menu structure: Use a straightforward top-level navigation structure, grouping similar items together under clear headings. Your site’s most important sections should be easily accessible from this main menu.
- Search functionality: Implement a robust search feature, allowing users to input keywords and find relevant information quickly
- Breadcrumbs: Use breadcrumb navigation to help users track their path from the homepage to their current location
- Internal linking: Strategically place internal links throughout your content to help users find related information
- Footer navigation: Include a footer with links to important pages like ‘About Us,’ ‘Contact Us,’ and ‘FAQs’
6. Bolster Your Credibility With Social Proof
One of the most effective ways to reassure visitors that your franchise is trustworthy is by showcasing positive feedback from existing customers and franchisees throughout your site.
Social proof can come in various forms, including testimonials, case studies, user reviews, and star ratings. Not only do these elements instill confidence in your brand, but they also give prospects a glimpse into the potential benefits of doing business with you.
Consider adding a dedicated section of customer reviews or a rotating carousel of testimonials to your homepage. You can also highlight the specific strengths of different franchise locations by adding local customer reviews and success stories to location pages.
It’s also worth integrating third-party review widgets or links to external (and unbiased!) review sites to further enhance your credibility.
7. Include a Franchise Locator
We’ve already mentioned the importance of clear navigation and adding dedicated location pages to your franchise site. However, you can make it even easier for users to find nearby franchises by also implementing a franchise locator feature.
A franchise locator is basically an interactive tool, often map-based, that lets users enter their zip code, city, or region to find their nearest franchise locations quickly.
Here’s a franchise locator example from Anytime Fitness:
Since many visitors to your site are likely seeking a local franchise location, your locator tool should feature prominently on your homepage and within your top-level navigation menu.
How to Select a Web Design Agency for Your Franchise Site
Given the complexities of building a well-functioning franchise website, many franchisors prefer to outsource web design to a professional agency.
However, before you can find a suitable web design agency, you first need to iron out your project requirements, including timeline and budget.
A good way to approach this task is by creating a web design request for a proposal (RFP) document. A web design RFP is essentially a document breaking down your project needs.
Once you send your RFP to a potential agency, they’ll respond with a proposal of how they would approach and price the project should you choose to work with them. And if you like a proposal, the next step is to arrange a meeting with the agency for a more in-depth discussion before reaching a final decision.
While agencies don’t expect you to be familiar with the ins and outs of web design, a good RFP should contain as many details as possible about your project.
Here are some things you should cover:
- Project summary
- Overview of your franchise business
- Goals and objectives
- Project scope
- Problems with your existing site (if applicable)
- Timeline and budget
- Agency selection criteria
- Contact information
- Proposal deadline
Check out our guide to creating a web design RFP for more details on soliciting proposals from agencies with a track record of success in your industry. The guide also includes a free RFP template to streamline the process.
Creating a franchise website that maintains a unified brand identity, allows for location-based variations, and delivers a consistently seamless user experience is no simple task.
However, by adhering to the best practices outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to building a site that attracts new franchisees and local customers alike.
Remember, if you decide to outsource your design project to an agency, creating a detailed RFP will maximize your chances of teaming up with the right partner. And if you’re looking for an agency with tons of experience delivering digital marketing success for franchise businesses, feel free to get in touch with HigherVisibility today.