What Customers Expect from Small Business Websites

A new survey reveals how to build a positive online experience.
Prioritize accurate contact information and professional design to impress online customers. (Photo: Ruslan Guzov)

As the digital storefront for your small business, having a great website is critical to attracting and maintaining new customers. But if customers have a poor experience there, they most likely won’t be back.

Vistaprint recently surveyed more than 5,000 visitors of small business websites to see what consumers think makes a great website experience. Here’s what they found.

Deliver findable and accurate contact information


(Photo: Vistaprint)

It’s probably no surprise, but according to the survey, the number one thing that deters potential customers is outdated or lack of contact information.

“Having the correct information on your website and organized in a way that’s easy for the user to find is paramount for your business,” said Cynthia Stipeche, director of user experience at BrandExtract.

Visitors want contact information, and they want it fast. If it’s not up-to-date on your website, it could harm your credibility. The contact page is an extension of your business and shows customers you are accessible. What’s more, Google indexes contact pages, so if yours isn’t there, or it isn’t accurate, users are more likely to move onto a competitor whose is.


  1. Add contact information to the top level in your website’s navigation. Don’t bury it in the footer.
  2. Business hours, email address, phone number, social media links and a physical address are crucial for this page. Adding mapping technology or, at the very least, directions to your establishment, makes it easy for the customer to find you.


Optimize your mobile experience

There’s no denying that mobile web use is on the rise. In fact, according to another survey from LogmeIn and Vanson Bourne, 85 percent of respondents said they are less likely do business with an organization that gives a poor mobile experience.

“A mobile-friendly experience is most important for businesses because a majority of people use their phone to access the internet,” said Carlos Montalvo, web designer for ad agency GWP, Inc.


  1. Make sure to cover frequently asked questions on your site. If a customer has to jump off and Google the answer, they most likely won’t come back.
  2. As mentioned above, easy-to-find contact information is critical to a good mobile experience.
  3. Optimize your e-commerce checkout experience for mobile. Nothing is more frustrating than having to fill out tiny forms and resubmit credit card information over and over again.


Provide detailed product and services descriptions

Imagine buying something off a website and you can’t find the dimensions or colors or anything else. You’d probably shop from a different site, right? That’s the mindset of many consumers. If you’re selling products, make sure you include all the information your customers need.


  1. When describing products and services on your site, put all the details front and center, including price, size, color, materials and shipping information.
  2. Include images with 360-degree views, if possible.
  3. Reviews are often the tiebreaker in deciding to go with you or a competitor. Invest in technology that showcases your ratings and displays them next to your products.


Invest in a professional design


(Photo: Vistaprint)

Poor imagery, clunky design, hard-to-read-fonts and ugly color schemes all contribute to a bad user experience that will send your customers packing. Your website is a direct reflection of your business and your brand. If the design is unprofessional, customers will assume your business is, too.

Related: Effective Ways to Elevate Your Brand

“Customers know when they’re looking at websites built from a template with a bad user experience,” said Stipeche, “which can turn them off and leave a bad first impression. Small businesses need to effectively represent their brand, and design is a huge part of that.”

Keep in mind that the messaging on your site is just as important as a beautiful design. If your copy contains grammatical errors or doesn’t make sense, chances are you’ll lose a sale.


  1. Enlist the help of a professional designer and copywriter. Many freelancers are available for reasonable rates.
  2. Don’t skimp out on interesting imagery and icons.


Update your content frequently


“Consumers are savvy, and they expect small businesses to keep up with the times.” -Bryan Caplan (Photo: Bryan Caplan)

Customers aren’t the only ones who notice fresh content; it’s noticeable to Google, too. Updated content plays a huge role in determining your search ranking, so make sure it’s a priority in your digital strategy.

Related: Danny Sullivan’s Top SEO Tips for Small Businesses

“Gone are the days when you could throw up a couple paragraphs on your website and leave it for dead,” said Bryan Caplan, CEO of of BJC Branding. “Consumers are savvy, and they expect small businesses to keep up with the times. From content updates to accurate contact information, business owners need to keep their sites fresh if they want to drive business.”


  1. Invest in easy-to-use website technology that allows you to make frequent updates.
  2. Create a business blog and update it as often as once a month.
  3. Add social media widgets on your site to pull in status updates.

Remember, first impressions are lasting impressions. Consumers will judge your business by the quality of your website, so if your online presentation is poor, customers will likely move on to a competitor. A good website design is one of the best marketing investments you can make.

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