Small Business Websites: Are You Winning Online?

small business web design


We are funny creatures, us humans; even when looking at local small business websites online.

I wanted to share an interesting story of my own unconscious habits.

When I am not in work mode as a ‘web designer’ or online marketing specialist, but rather being a regular everyday consumer, it is interesting to note the automatic unconscious behaviours that have been programmed into me.

I have been ‘blindly’ searching online a lot lately whilst I play the role of a kind and caring daughter helping my parents out with a number of household chores that need doing around their home.

One such chore that needs tending too is the yard and the lawnmowing.

You see, my parents live interstate; it’s warm, the grass is getting long and there is no way they are able to take care of it anymore.

So what does a good daughter do who does not live in the area?

I did what any one of us busy small business owners would do; I went straight to Google and searched “Lawnmowing and suburb”.

And this is what happened when unconsciously searching for a local business online….

In a matter of seconds, I scanned the first page.

lawnmowing small business website sydney

Do you have a small business website? Is it doing your business justice?

I ignored the green ads at the top of the page… Why? Because I never click on ads – after all, it’s an advert… my default psychology tells me they are going to sell me something, so I’m not really interested.

Then this is what was interesting; well actually rather shocking (for a web designer in Sydney) anyway.

There were hardly any businesses with a website!

Sure, there were some directory listings, some True Local listings, a Facebook link, but not many business websites. I was shocked!

But this is where my autopilot behaviours or my trained behaviour was even more interesting.

You see, my unconscious selection criteria that was running through my head was affecting my search and online buying habits.

My 7 Steps to Assessing a Small Business Website

And here are the criteria I was unconsciously working through – the questions I was asking myself, the checklist and criteria I was assessing the business by:

  1. Did they have a simple easy-to-read website? Did it tell me they were a professional business with nothing to hide (not someone just doing this on the side)?
  2. Did it convey trust? Did the website tell me things that would make me feel like I could trust them? That I could trust a complete stranger to go into my parents’ home? You know… things like were they licensed or have they been in business for x amount of years?
  3. What information did they share? Was it quick and easy to find what I was looking for? Eg. Did they service the area my parents lived in?
  4. Did they provide the services I required? What did they do, and what didn’t they do?
  5. Was there a pricing guide or an estimate guide as to the cost?
  6. Did they provide a free quote or was there was a call out fee?

I know what you might be saying… as an online marketing specialist and website designer, I am trained at this… but guess what? I believe most consumers have been trained in many facets like this too.

According to Ernst & Young “Australians spend on average 10 hours and 24 minutes engaging with their internet-connected devices every day” – Source

Don’t you think when we are all spending this long online we are being trained and conditioned for things to look a certain way, and function a certain way?

Don’t you think that we are doing so much research and online buying on the run, in between events, meetings, kids drop-offs, etc that we are more time-poor than ever? So whatever the small business website has on it must be easy for me to read and act upon – really quickly!

Give me a barrier, ask me too many questions, don’t let me ‘connect’ or buy’ on my phone and forget it… you have lost me – and I have moved onto the next guy – in a heartbeat.

Now back to my lawn mowing search.

The next unconscious actions played out like this:

  1. I looked and got a feeling for this small business based on the colours, images and how it displayed on my phone.

Maybe it’s a female thing, a web designer thing or perhaps it’s just a gut and intuition thing.

Really? It’s true I was making a judgment call about this business in seconds. I was determining whether I liked him and how professional he may have been and how friendly he would be by the look of his website.

It was influencing my perception.

The first two businesses I called made it really easy for me; both had websites that were designed with clear white space and simple ‘appealing colours’ and their phone number was right in my line of sight (and it was clickable from my mobile phone – no fumbling around – easy!)

The third business I called had dark green heavy colour tones and the website was all squashed together and hard to read – actually it was yuk! It was dated and looked really cheap but I called him none the less – even though I actually thought for a second not too.

small business online

Is your small business online? How do you get found?

It was as thought I was looking for another choice.

This is the kicker, the really interesting thought process…

The ugly, hard to read website got my call not because his website was slick or modern, but because my choice of small businesses with websites was very limited…

So limited that, to my surprise, he actually won by default. He generated a lead, he answered his phone and we had a chat and he seemed like a nice genuine guy.

Get in the Game

And this is what I have taken away from this on reflection.

We are all online consumers and we have all been trained to determine what is acceptable today as well as what is not acceptable on a website.

And we all have our likes and our dislikes, our own personal tastes.

But ugly green lawn mowing man was in the game. He had a website on the first page of Google staring me smack bang in the face and he was getting my lead, my business from someone who had never met him, never been referred to and never even knew he existed until now.

So he is a winner!

As Steven Bradbury taught us, you are a winner if you can be on the starting line and be in the game!

My take away is this… I understand that many small businesses feel they don’t have the time to get a website up, they feel that they don’t know where to start and often they are running around chasing their tail looking for their next lead, their next client, their next opportunity.

Getting your business online wins you business. Mr lawn-mower man demonstrated this.

The small business website was ugly, and even though it didn’t tick all the boxes (that I wanted to see as an online marketing specialist) he is beating his competition and getting my business just by default; he is online and getting found for his small business services.

I immediately discounted any that did not have a website because to me, it just means they aren’t a professional business. It makes me think that they are small players doing it on the side; they could be here today and gone tomorrow, or without the proper insurances in place.

It’s these factors that help someone in their buying decision.

So it may be an interesting exercise to think about your own browsing and buying habits online. And also think about your own small business website… Does it stand up to the test? If you were a visitor to your website, would you trust this business owner and buy from them?

If you would like to discuss affordable small business website options and get your business online and winning leads, call us today.

About Brendan

Brendan Hones is a digital marketing consultant and website designer and developer at SB Web Designs. He loves helping business owners take control of and improve their online presence to help their business grow. He is passionate about SEO and helping others to learn more through WordPress training.

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