Small businesses don’t need large websites with hundreds of pages. But they do need usable websites.
Creating a small business website is all about focusing on services and selling points for potential customers. You can do this with 5-6 pages or even 1 page. This is greatly determined by the design and the type of company(eg. electrician, plumber, gardener, etc).
In this post I’ll cover some common design trends that apply to all small business websites. You can use these ideas in your own small business site and on client sites too.
Great Photos Sell
This is perhaps the most important trend to keep in mind because it works for so many industries.
No matter what line of business you’re in, great photos help sell your company.
These photos can showcase your work quality, your office, your tools, your clients, or any combination. Generally I advise against stock photography because it’s usually too cheesy. But you can find very natural(and free) photos on sites like Unsplash and Pexels.
Keep your photos relevant and marketable. Show visitors a photo that’ll instantly convey what you do. The homepage of Carpentry By Elliott is a fantastic example.
It uses a grid structure with multiple photos of project work. The top header uses a large background video to show off prior work in high-definition.
Most small business owners don’t know photography well enough to grab their own pictures. This is why it’s often worth hiring a photographer just for a quick shoot on big projects. I guarantee these photos will come in handy down the line.
Or if you’d rather go the stock route you can find photos online. But you’ll want pictures that don’t look cheesy or overly promotional. The A1 Plumbing site uses a simple wrench & glove in their header photo.
These tools are just relevant enough to be valuable to the site. You can clearly tell what the site is all about just by glancing over this header.
I still personally feel that real-world photos still work best.
However I know that hiring a photographer(or teaching yourself) is time consuming and rarely a top priority. Hyst keep it in mind as a viable option down the road.
Contact & Quote Forms
Another feature I constantly see is the online quote form. This works much like a contact form except it requests details from potential customers.
This generally encourages more conversions because visitors have an easier time making the leap from “average visitor” to potential customer. No worries if the office is closed, no need to hop on the phone or deal with answering machines.
The only task required is filling out an online form.
The Valentine Roofing homepage has a long clean opt-in field for requesting a service quote(or RFP form).
It’s definitely a smaller form and it’s kinda tucked away from the natural flow. But this also doesn’t feel too jarring when you land on the homepage and start browsing. This way visitors don’t feel pressured to reach out, but it is definitely an option.
I generally suggest going a little more aggressive than this if you’re trying to increase conversions. Still it’s a great example of how you can squeeze a request form right into the page header.
Another cool example is for Kustom Kut Lawns. They use CTAs above the fold to encourage visitors further into the site. But lower on the homepage you’ll notice a quick “request an estimate” form.
The very top of the page uses a large hero image and this works to keep attention. Both CTAs at the top are clean and draw just enough attention to not be annoying.
If the user scrolls further they’re more likely to be interested in the company and try to learn more about their services.
I’d say this homepage does a lot of things right. It pre-sells on a lot of features, uses consistent branding, and clearly shows what this business does.
It’s one of the best small business designs I’ve seen and their RFP contact form is just one of many great design choices.
I mentioned CTAs in the previous section but didn’t get into much detail. These letters stand for Call To Action, it’s a common acronym describing large buttons/forms that usually appear above the fold.
Every optimized small business site needs a clean CTA. It encourages new visitors to take some type of action whether it’s requesting advice, scheduling a call, or sending a job inquiry.
The homepage of J.N. Davis Roofing is the clearest example of a strong CTA.
Most people who glance over the page will immediately be drawn towards the bright red “get free quote” button. Red often jumps off the page and leaves a strong lasting impression on the viewer.
Earlier in this post I suggested adding a request form right on the homepage. And I do think this is a good idea.
But a “request quote” button is also valuable because it pre-qualifies visitors. If anyone clicks that button they’re probably willing and ready to request a quote, so you’re likely to see more conversions on the next page.
You can also change up the text and aim for different results. For example Orangetheory Fitness uses the text “try us free” to let the reader know there’s no cost upfront.
Think more about what your visitors want and less about what you want. The best CTA button helps visitors solve their problems by addressing their needs, and the business makes money by solving that need. CTAs are just the first step of the process.
Copy sells and it’s absolutely vital to have great writing on your site. Especially on the homepage where visitors enter cold.
Text color, size, and font family all play important factors in keeping users engaged. But so does the context of the copy and what it really means.
The Donelson Massage Center uses a hero image slideshow mixed with clean copy. This tells the visitor what the business is all about, and ultimately what they get out of the experience.
Unfortunately the header does not have a clear CTA which I think would really improve conversions. But strictly talking about the copy it’s crystal clear explaining what the spa offers.
I encourage all small business owners to learn some copywriting.
This isn’t something every designer knows how to do. And learning to write copy lets business owners manage their own website. These days anyone can setup a whole small business site on WordPress with ease. This offers complete control over the content so business owners can dictate their message clearly.
Once you start looking at web copy you’ll see it everywhere. Study your local competition and see how they design their pages. You can learn a lot just by reading their sites as if you’re a typical customer.
What would you do differently? How would you improve their current site?
This example from Ellie's Bakery shows how much typography plays a role in design. Their heading is dominated by copy with links for breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.
An entire bakery can be summarized in just a few words. Find a similar way to write about your business and visitors will be more likely to read through your site, and maybe even become loyal customers.
Building Your Site
These tips are just the fundamentals needed for great small business websites. But you should always feel free to break outside these trends and try new things.
Whether you’re launching your own SMB site or designing a site for a client, always remember that customers should be the focus of every decision.
And if you like the idea of launching your own site on WordPress you can browse our previous gallery full of premium small business themes.