When building a new business website, what potential customers expect from it should influence every decision about its design and content.
Unfortunately, it is all too easy to overlook this; partly because there is often a significant difference between how companies wish to be viewed and what their target clients regard as important.
BrightLocal has now attempted to fill in some of the gaps by undertaking research into what consumers actually want from the websites of local businesses.
Researchers found 36% of people believe that a "clear and smart" website gives a local business greater credibility and that a further 32% are more likely to contact a company if they have a website. Just 27% of those questioned said it made no difference to them whether a local firm had a website or not.
It is clear from these results that a sizeable majority of consumers regard a business's online presence as important and that it directly influences their decision about whether or not to buy from the firm.
The survey also looked at what elements of local business websites are most important to potential customers. It found lists of products, prices, contact details and opening hours are the key pieces of information.
The findings indicate that when visiting a website, people want to find out basic information about the company as quickly as possible in order to decide whether or not it meets their requirements. While listing prices is not appropriate (or even possible in some sectors) for all business websites, the other key elements can be prominently displayed as part of a well-designed site.
Researchers also asked consumers what factors would most make them want to use a local business. Perhaps unsurprisingly, location (18%) was the most popular answer, but clear contact details (16%), company information (16%), an attractive website (8%), testimonials (8%) and clear photos (6%) were found to be important parts of the buying decision.
The factors that would be most likely to stop consumers from using a local company were identified as no phone number (15%), no prices (13.4%), poor content (13%), no contact email (9.3%), no map / address (7.7%) and an ugly or old website (6.6%).
Every company's website requirements are different, but there are some useful general tips to take from the BrightLocal research.
- Make sure your website is well designed and easy to navigate
- Ensure that contact details are prominently displayed
- Make certain that pages detailing products and services are easy to understand
- Written content and images must be of a high quality
If you have any questions about how to improve your company's website, please get in touch with Smart Arts.