From contact information to customer testimonials, here are the most important things every small business website needs.

It’s not like the good old days anymore. People don’t go to your website first. Nowadays, people use Google to find out information about a brand, read online reviews before buying anything, and stay connected on social media.

Standing out from the crowd is getting harder – but standing out from a plethora of badly-designed websites is getting easier!

Include these 5 elements on your site, and you are guaranteed to improve your customer experience. They’re not hacks, or best practices. Just dead simple to-dos that we all look for every time we browse.

Bad design isn’t the only fatal mistake that can kill your small business website.

Sometimes it takes a list to kick start our improvements!

Keep reading!

Trust Indicators

Everything is about trust. As people, we trade in trust. It’s the currency behind everything we do.

We trust that giving away money, time or things will bring us something else we want. You’re trusting that this article isn’t going to lie to you. You’re trusting that you’ll get something valuable for your time.

And that’s what this list helps you do, if you’re not already doing it. Make it easier for people to trust you and what you say.

Your small business website is where you start your efforts to present yourself as a reputable and trustworthy brand.

For example, according to one study, 40% of people abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. 44% of them will share their negative experience with a friend.

Your small business web design strategy, and how you serve up your website to visitors may very well be the most important factor in bringing in leads and keeping people coming back.

Enough talk.

Let’s get into it!

So everything from how the site looks, to how easy it is to navigate, can inspire people to do business with you.

Here are those 5 things every small business website needs.

1. Calls-To-Action (Conversion-Focused Design)

Calls-to-action are one of the most important elements of a website. They can make the difference between converting your customers and letting them leave without doing anything.

Studies have shown that nearly 70% of small business websites don’t have a call-to-action.

Seriously.

They’re not losing potential leads because their calls-to-action are poorly written.

They’re  losing because they just don’t have any.

A visitor is on your site for two reasons: 1) decide if you’re the answer to their issue, and maybe 2) hire you or buy your product.

Are you making it hard for people to take action? Especially the wallets-out, ready-to-buy visitors?

2. Clear, Engaging Copy

Clear, quality content is one of the critical things every small business website needs to be relevant to your visitors.

Keeping it fresh and updated shows that you’re ‘alive’, that the lights are on and someone’s in the shop. Google really likes to see that. I know I really like to see that.

Stay focused. Talk about how your product helps solve people’s problems. Say it as quickly and concisely as possible.

Don’t write a book. No one has time to read it.

Make it short, sweet, and absolutely clear. If they want more detail, they’ll reach out, dig into your FAQs, or study the fine print.

Give people what they are looking for and help them keep coming back.

Write articles that are well researched and bring value to your customers.

Use storytelling to turn boring data into engaging stories. According to one study, articles that start with storytelling can lead to 300% more readers than articles that only cite facts. Stories are a way to ‘hack’ your reader’s mind and get information in.

Use subheads, bullet points, and numbered lists to make your content easier to scan.

Your readers will appreciate it.

They’ll actually read it.

3. Work/Portfolio

It’s a lot easier to sell your products and services when everyone realizes you are an authority in your field.

Making sure that your small business website includes samples of your work or a portfolio of past projects is an important way to show proof of what you do.

Equally as importantly, a portfolio is a collection of stories. Each entry is about how someone came to you with a problem, you solved it, and now their lives are vastly improved. All because of you and your expertise.

Building up a solid bank of case studies, portfolio entries, and proofs-of-concept is critical to showing that you can deliver on your promises.

4. Contact Form & Clickable Phone Number (Especially on Mobile)

Picture this. You’ve spent hours looking for someone to plan your friend’s baby shower. You’ve finally found an incredible candidate. Their services are clear and affordable.

You’re sold. You decide to book them.

But, you can’t find a contact form, an email address, or even a phone number.

You click through several pages looking for contact information. Nada. You give up and click ‘Back’.

That website just lost a customer, purely because they made it difficult for them to get in touch.

One of the most important things every small business website needs is easy-to-find contact information. Don’t make your prospects go hunting for something they desperately want.

Put your contact information up in the menu, or in prominent places on your website, such as the sidebar and footer. Or make sure that you have a ‘Contact’ menu item that takes them to a clear ‘Contact Us’ page.

5. Testimonials/Reviews

A testimonial is more than a ‘such an awesome company!’ ‘Strongly recommend’.

Those kinds of online reviews don’t say anything. Largely because they have no idea who the person is saying it. There’s no bond of trust between them.

But if your good friend says ‘use them. they’re awesome,’ you’ll take it seriously.

We listen to our friends’ recommendations more than anyone.

After that, we read carefully through online reviews, largely because we know that they aren’t cherry-picked. They’re frequently honest, and unsolicited.

This logic breaks down when it comes to testimonials on a website. How do you create a bond of trust with a testimonial?

Three ways.

Share testimonials from an authoritative source. Another business, or someone recognized in the industry, or your community. Their praise brings an already-recognized level of trust.

Share concrete reviews. When someone details the trouble they were in-how your company helped them, and how their lives are better now-is one of the best reviews you can have. These create a trust bond because the details create a story, and help your readers empathize, and imagine themselves benefiting too.

Be upfront about reviews. If they’re coming from another website, your Facebook fan page, Yelp, or Google Reviews, include the link so that your visitors can check them out. Showing that you nothing to hide indicates confidence.

In fact, negative reviews are huge opportunities for building confidence in your business. Seems counterintuitive? Think about it.

We all pay attention to bad reviews, and then how a company handles it. It’s a perfect opportunity to provide clarity, or show how your brand is working to fix the issue.

Like you and me, people are more likely to buy from a business if they see that other people have done the same.

Let’s Wrap Up

Building a website doesn’t have to be impossible. If you have a clear goal, and know what your visitors are looking for when they hit your site, you can give them what they need.

Including these key elements will do two things for you:

  1. improve your website for conversions – which is what a website is all about anyway.
  2. get rid of some of the guesswork!

So here are they 5 things every small business website needs:

  1. Calls to Action. Ask for the sale. Give them something to do.
  2. Clear, Engaging Copy. Don’t technobabble. Say exactly what you need to.
  3. Testimonials & Reviews. Know the difference. They’re your gold.
  4. Show the Proof. Everyone needs to see concrete examples of the success you can bring them.
  5. Contact Form and Clickable Phone number. ’nuff said.

And there you have it. Start including these elements and you’re guaranteed to improve how visitors use your website.

When it comes down to it, it’s all about giving them what they’re looking for.

Had any special experiences with one of these?

Jeremy Minick

Born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina. Spent high school summers running sandwich deliveries through the streets of Asheville, NC. Has a strong interest in helping small businesses do big things. When he’s not designing or marketing websites, you’ll find him spending time with his wife, family and friends.

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Jeremy is the Lead Designer & Owner of Enable. Jeremy is a small business connoisseur who helps the little guys conquer big. When he’s not designing websites or writing blogs, you’ll find him spending time with his wife and family.

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