5 Best Design Practices for Franchise Websites

Posted on March 22, 2024 | Updated on April 18, 2024

Franchise websites offer an excellent opportunity for franchise owners to market their business. However, designing for all locations presents some challenges in branding and more. 

A website for franchises is crucial, as it’s the first impression it makes for the company. When crafting thoughtfully, managing a website for these types of businesses can be seamless. To ensure franchisors and franchisees have a strong web presence, you can follow certain guidelines that follow best design practices.

What Are Franchise Websites?

Franchise websites are special platforms for businesses with multiple locations, such as restaurant chains or retail stores. These types of sites are crucial because they represent the whole brand and each location. However, good design on these sites is key. It makes the website look professional and inviting, helping to attract more customers. 

Plus, it ensures all the information is easy to find and understand. This is crucial for site visitors wanting to know more about the franchise. They may wonder what services or products it sells and where to find a nearby location. With great design, you help a business look good and work well. 

The Challenges That Exist in Designing Franchise Websites

Designers with more experience know what it takes to create an effective franchise website. Yet, for beginners, some challenges exist in creating them. Knowing about them can help you prepare for the obstacles and ensure you develop a smooth user experience across all franchise sites. 

Balancing Brand Consistency and Customization

When designing franchise websites, balancing brand consistency and customization is a big challenge. Franchise sites must keep the overall look and feel the same across all locations to ensure the brand is easily recognizable. This includes using the same colors, logos and style.

However, each franchise location is unique. They might have different services, special offers or local events. Therefore, the website must allow some room for customization to show these extra features.

Finding the right mix is tricky. Too much consistency can make each location seem too generic. Yet, too much customization can weaken the overall brand identity. Either way, designers must consider this carefully and plan to get the balance right. 

Managing Content and Updates

Another challenge in designing franchise websites is keeping it up to date. Since each location has its own news, events or promotions, it can take time to keep a website updated. The main website should have the latest information about the franchise, like new product launches or company-wide campaigns. At the same time, individual location pages need specific updates like local events or changes in opening hours.

The key is to have a centralized system that makes updating easy and efficient. This could be a dashboard where franchise owners can make updates, automating other website updates. 

Designing a Website for Diverse Audiences

This is another significant problem, as these websites must appeal to different audiences of interests, ages and backgrounds. Each franchise location serves a slightly different community, so the website should reflect this aspect.

The design must be inclusive and accessible, ensuring the information is easy to understand and use for everyone. This includes considering language options, clear navigation, and design for disabled people. The website should also display content that caters to different groups, like special deals relevant to local customers. 

For instance, McDonald’s franchisees in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, promoted a deal called the Penguins Pack — a food combo that targeted fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. When looking at the McDonald’s website in this location, you would’ve seen this special promotion within its app during a new order.

Best Practices for Designing Franchise Websites

When delving into website design for franchise businesses, the following best practices are essential to keep in mind for success.

1. Follow Corporate Branding Guidelines

One best practice for designing franchise websites is strictly following corporate branding guidelines. When referring to corporate branding, you ensure its brand identity is consistent and recognizable across all locations. Otherwise, even a minor change to the brand’s look can have some repercussions. 

To do this effectively, you should familiarize yourself with the franchise’s color scheme, logo usage, font styles and overall tone. Then, you should use them consistently across every web page to reinforce a professional and cohesive online presence.

2. Design for Localization

Designing for a local market allows franchisees to cater their website to customer’s needs. One way to do this is by providing an opportunity for customizable content. This means it should enable franchise locations to customize parts of their web page. That way, they can include nearby events and contact information. 

You should also ensure the website’s content and design are culturally relevant to the local audience. This involves adjusting images or references to fit local customs and sensibilities. Additionally, offering multilingual options is helpful. This makes the site more accessible and user-friendly for a wider audience.

3. Use a Flexible Content Management System

A flexible CMS (content management system) is vital, as it allows for content updates across the franchisor and franchisee sites. When choosing a CMS, it should be easy for franchises to manage their content for local updates. It should also support various levels of user permissions so franchise owners can go in and make necessary changes. At the same time, it should be scalable enough to accommodate the growth of the franchise and the addition of new locations. 

4. Prioritize Mobile Responsiveness

With more people using smartphones to browse the internet, a franchise website must provide easy access for mobile users. This means designing a website that automatically adjusts its layout, images and content to fit any screen size. A mobile-responsive design enhances user experience, making it easy for customers to use and find information. As such, a good user experience increases the likelihood of longer site engagement and purchases. 

5. Use Clear Navigation

A well-structured and intuitive navigation system makes it easy for visitors to find what they need. When you meet user’s expectations, you improve their overall experience. Designing clear navigation involves organizing content logically using descriptive menu labels. It also requires you to ensure important information like location-specific pages and services are easily accessible. 

Dropdown menus can be useful for categorizing information without cluttering the main navigation bar. Additionally, incorporating a search function allows users to find specific information quickly. As a result, you can significantly reduce bounce rates when making the navigation effortless.

Making Designing Franchise Websites Work for You

Successfully designing franchise websites requires following a few best practices, from brand consistency to localizing content. Doing so allows you to create a usable site that reflects your franchise’s identity and engages effectively. A well-designed franchise website is a powerful tool for growth and customer connection. Keep implementing new market trends and web design principles to maximize your online presence. 

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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