7 Ways to Improve Your Small-Business Website

by Ann deBruyn

Nearly 1 in 2 people who visit your website will look at only one page before leaving, according to the 2021 Digital Experience Benchmark report from Contentsquare, an analytics platform. Making the split-second decision to bounce from one website to another is easy — figuring out how to keep consumers’ attention isn’t so simple.

To generate a positive first impression and make your small-business website more customer-friendly, consider these seven tips.

1. Ask for feedback

Jennifer Fortney, founder and president of Cascade Communications — a virtual public relations and marketing communications company — tells people to seek out unbiased feedback immediately after designing a website. She focuses on helping businesses tell their stories strategically, and to achieve that, business owners must be able to see their products through consumers’ eyes.

If you’re unsure which questions to start with, Lesa Seibert, CEO and CFO of Mightily, a digital-first brand advertising agency, and Xstreme Media, a web design and digital marketing firm, suggests the following:

  • How did you find us?

  • Why did you choose us instead of our competitors?

  • Why did you become a customer?

2. Invest in visuals

Candice Stennett, vice president of marketing at the Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE, is responsible for the small-business networking organization’s online presence and stresses the importance of using high-quality photos and videos. Instead of relying on stock images, she says hiring a professional photographer could be worth the extra money. She also recommends looking for opportunities to add photos of menu items, retail products, the small business’s owners and real-life customers.

3. Double down on mobile responsiveness

According to the Contentsquare report, 64% of website traffic comes from smartphones. Maybe you’ve already tested out your website to make sure it’s mobile-friendly, but Seibert cautions against stopping there. Instead, consider including only the most important information on your mobile website. Sometimes, packing all the desktop components into the mobile version can make it difficult for consumers to navigate a website on the go.

4. Make it easy for customers to contact you

Make sure your contact information is easy to spot, and try to avoid using contact forms.

“It makes me not trust you,” Stennett says about using a contact form instead of an email address or phone number. "It makes me feel as if your site might not be credible or trustworthy or reliable.”

Fortney says you might want to think twice before including a phone number, though, unless you own a service-based business. Sometimes, she adds, it’s more cost-effective from a time management perspective to respond to emails on your own schedule, as opposed to being reachable by phone all day.

5. Prioritize accessibility

It’s extremely important that your website is accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired, Seibert says. And this goes beyond adding alternative, or alt, text to images. She says it involves taking color palettes and navigation into account too.

For more information on improving your website’s accessibility, she suggests consulting The American Printing House for the Blind. You also can browse the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which are helping to establish international standards for website accessibility.

6. Identify key integrations

The integrations you might contemplate depend on your industry and whether you’re active on social media channels. Seibert mentions e-commerce platforms, like WooCommerce, for online businesses  and reservation software for restaurants, such as OpenTable.

And make sure to incorporate  social media feeds you post on regularly, like Twitter or Facebook, Stennett adds. This can be done with plug-ins or widgets.

7. Update quarterly

Stennett recommends doing quarterly reviews of your website to ensure everything is up to date, working correctly and still relevant. Pretend you’re a potential customer navigating the page and check for any unforeseen hiccups.

“If I land on your website or your online channel, I’m coming there because I want to learn more or I want to buy from you,” she says. “Make it easy for me to give you my money and to support your business.”