Historically, website design and optimization have been uncomfortable bedfellows. The structural and content requirements of SEO were seen to restrict the fluidity of design and user interaction, while a narrow focus on website style often meant that the need to gain visibility in search and convert clicks into customers was overlooked.
While these reluctant friends have kissed and made up, there is often too great a focus on design and optimization over the basics, i.e., what information customers value the most when they visit a website.
In January of this year, we (BrightLocal) surveyed our local consumer panel (3,000+ consumers based in US and Canada) to learn more about their attitudes and expectations toward local business websites. We wanted to understand what information is most important to them and what factors make them most likely to use a local business (or put them off contacting a business).
The following four charts cover some of the key findings from the survey. The full set of findings and charts along with gender and age breakdowns can be found on BrightLocal.com.
By just having a website, a business makes itself more appealing to 32% of potential customers, while have a smart, professional site gives them added credibility on top.
Very few potential customers (5%) would be put off by a business that has an ugly site. However, when we explore the gender and age breakdowns, we see that men and younger consumers (18-34) are more swayed by site design and more likely to not use a business that has an ugly or poor performing site.
It’s the basic information that potential customers want first and foremost. Visitors to your business website want to quickly establish that your business meets their needs. They are much less concerned about the stylistic nature of your site or what you look like. “Softer” factors may play a more important role further down the purchase path but first things first:
If you can get basics right first, then half the battle is won.
This next question looks specifically at the behaviour change that your website can have on potential customers.
Again, it’s the simple things that count, so businesses should be sure to get these right.
However, at this point, other factors such as testimonials, photos and website design do influence decisions more. In the early research phases, consumers are seeking to identify which businesses offer the services/product they want at a price they can afford. When it comes to picking a winner, they consider a wider set of factors; customer testimonials/reviews and website design tell a customer more about the type of business you are and if they should trust you. So these factors are important when it comes to converting leads into actual customers.
Phone appears to be the #1 contact option that most customers are looking for, so it’s important to make that prominent and easy to find. This is important for local optimization — along with business name and address — so any businesses which don’t want to display a contact number are seriously affecting the chances of attracting and converting potential customers.
Having a public price list is also important. Customers need to know if they can afford your services; if they can’t see your prices, they may fear the worst or go with a company that displays the cost.
Interestingly, an ugly site and lack of testimonials is unlikely to put many customers off, but they also won’t help to convince customers to use your business. If you have customer reviews, use them! If you don’t, go get some.
To view and download the full set of charts please click here.