2022 Data on Web Design for Small Businesses

A simple Google search is often the first step in a buyer’s research. Having a top-notch web design helps companies stand out, attract users, and increase sales. Top Design Firms surveyed 1,003 small businesses to determine the benefits — and challenges — of web design in 2022. 

How important is having a website to your small business? 

While a website can be expensive to develop and take a lot of resources to maintain, many small businesses find that a website is invaluable because it helps them connect with their customers and promote their business. 

Having a business website is nothing new — since the internet became a popular global network in the 1990s, companies have built websites knowing that it was the best way to reach customers. 

However, recent trends show that it’s more important than ever for businesses to invest in their web design. 

Top Design Firms surveyed 1,003 small business owners and managers in the United States to better understand how companies plan to leverage their web design. Here’s what we found. 

Our Findings: 

  • 27% of small businesses still don't have a website. However, most (86%) plan to build one in the next few years, showing that most business owners understand the benefits of building their online presence. 
  • The primary reason why companies build websites is to allow customers to make purchases online (20%) and showcase their products and services (20%), demonstrating an emphasis on the importance of having a website with e-commerce functionality. 
  • Low website traffic is the number one challenge companies face with their website (14%), followed by adding advanced functionalities (11%), and the cost of building and maintaining a website (11%).  
  • Companies plan to invest in the following features that appeal most to consumers: mobile capabilities (37%), embeddable videos on web pages (31%), load time/ page speed (28%), Dark Mode (26%), and Chatbots (20%).  

Are you planning to build a website for your small business? Check out our list of web designers to find the perfect partner for your upcoming project. 

Even Business Owners Without a Website Understand the Benefits of Having One. 

While the vast majority of small businesses (72%) already have a website, a few still haven’t built one. 

Despite the fact that having a well-designed website enhances a business’s credibility, grows brand awareness, and increases growth opportunities, a remarkable 27% of small businesses still don't have a website. 

27% of businesses don't have a website in 2022.

Cost is a factor for businesses deciding to build a website

Anjela Mangrum, founder and president of Mangrum Career Solutions, claims that cost can be a major contributing factor for business owners like herself deciding whether or not to build a website.

“[T]he reason for most businesses not having a website is largely due to a misconception that websites are always expensive” Mangrum said. “Many not-so-tech-savvy business owners are also intimidated at the thought of managing and constantly updating a website.” 

Depending on the size of the website and what features a company plans to include, building and maintaining a website can be expensive. According to WebFX, business website prices can range from $2,000–$75,000, but maintenance fees cost an additional $400–$60,000

However, Mangrum argues that there are ways to build a website for an affordable price, “[I]t doesn't have to be costly or complicated,” Margrum said. “A simple website with 1 to 5 pages costs around $100 annually to host. If you opt for your own domain, it costs an additional $10/year. And you can get someone to build your website for a couple of hundred dollars.” 

Additional reading, “What Does it Cost to Build a Website?

It’s difficult to build an online presence 

In addition to the price tag associated with web development, there’s no guarantee that building a website will be worth the investment. It can be difficult to attract traffic and convert users, especially in competitive industries. 

To get the most out of their website, companies also need to invest in digital marketing and advertising, which is an additional expense that businesses on a budget aren’t able to shoulder. Otherwise, the website won’t be an effective way to generate leads.

As a result, many believe that a website simply won’t lead to a positive return for small businesses that aren’t able to invest in building their online presence. 

Some industries don’t need a website to grow their business 

Mangrum also speculated that certain industries don’t require businesses to have a website to be credible. 

“They probably don't have much to gain from an online presence, such as a B2B business where sales are more relationship-driven instead of being initiated by random internet connections,” Mangrum said.

Instead, these small businesses rely on other strategies to grow their business, like referrals and word of mouth. 

Others find that they can attract customers online without building a website. Social media is particularly appealing because it’s free and easy to use. 

 “I've seen many businesses focus on managing their social media and reach enough consumers that they don't feel the need to legitimize their business with a website, leaving it as a task for some point in the future,” Margum said. 

In fact, it only takes about 10 minutes to set up a business page on Facebook, and it’s about the same to create accounts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tiktok. 

Once they have their accounts set up, companies can easily promote their products and connect with customers.  

Learn more about how small businesses use social media to grow their business on Top Design Firms

Still, many still believe that having a website is key for building a business’s credibility. Mangrum is one of them, claiming, “I think having a business website is essential if you need to maintain a professional-seeming online presence that says, 'we mean business.'”

Small Businesses Without One Plan to Build a Website Soon

Most (86%) small businesses who don’t already have a website plan to build one in the next few years, showing that most business owners understand the importance of building their online presence, particularly in a post-COVID world. 

86% of small businesses that don't have a website plan to build one in the next few years

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of time users spent online spiked considerably even though US adults were already spending an average of 6.5 hours per day online. 

While trends have forecasted increasing internet usage for years, the pandemic shifted how companies operate and do business. 

Thanks to consumer trends, like online shopping, having a website became essential for small businesses — sparking a new interest in website design and development. Nearly 3 in 4 small businesses (70%)  that have a website built it within the last year.  

Baruch Labunski, CEO of Rank Secure, explained why companies felt the need to build a website during the pandemic, “Websites became especially important in 2020 and 2021 because people stayed home and bought or researched online.“ 

This heavily influenced his decision to build a website. Knowing that his customers were looking online, he had to build a website for his company as well. “That is where people were so we had to be there too,” he said.  

“That is where people were so we had to be there too.”

To meet their customers’ needs, businesses needed to develop an online presence in 2020 and 2021. Going forward, this trend is likely to continue as companies rely on their web presence to sell their products. 

The Benefits of Having a Website for Small Businesses

Regardless of what industry they’re in, small businesses are ready to invest in their web design for a multitude of reasons. 

Small business owners say that the most important benefits of having a website are the ability to make purchases online (20%), showcase their products and services (20%), be found in search results (16%), and establish credibility in their industry (14%). 

What motivates businesses to design a website?

Companies hope to increase visibility online and attract new customers by creating a website. They know that a lot of potential customers use the internet to find what they’re looking for and assess a company before making a purchase. 

Mark Pierce, an Attorney at Cloud Peak Law Group, explained that their website helps clients find their business online, “For organic customer acquisition, we now appear in Google searches as well as online business directories.”

Potential customers searching for an attorney are more likely to find them online and call for a quote. Having an online presence is particularly important in Pierce’s case because 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine before contacting a law firm about representation. 

However, businesses of any industry can benefit from ranking online. In fact, 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying

Small businesses can also increase their online visibility and traffic by launching search engine optimization (SEO) and/or ad campaigns. With more traffic, companies are likely to see an uptick in sales and revenue. 

Additionally, having a website helps companies build their brand and establish trust with potential customers. 

Pierce explained how they use their website to grow their brand, “[O]ur website provides a clear overview of what we do and the services we offer. It also adds a personal element, where we share the story of why we built our firm.”

By providing information about their business, Cloud Peak Law Group can answer questions from potential clients and establishes themselves as a trustworthy and knowledgable firm. 

Other companies can use their website to build their credibility by publishing expert content on their site and investing in their website’s design. How a site looks can have a major impact on whether or not a potential customer or client will make a purchase. 

Small Businesses Are Focusing on Building Websites with E-Commerce Capabilities. 

The primary reason why companies build a website is to showcase their products and services (20%) and allow customers to make purchases online (20%). 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a lasting impact on how consumers shop — as consumers looked for contactless ways to buy essentials, they were forced to order online, resulting in a significant increase in online sales.

Two years later, consumers are used to buying online and are more likely to order through a website than ever before. At the end of Q4 in 2021, online sales were up 50.5% compared to pre-pandemic rates. 

Additionally, total e-commerce sales for 2021 were estimated at $870.8 billion, an increase of 14.2% from 2020, according to the US Department of Commerce

Now many customers expect to be able to buy online. Consequently, even small businesses need to invest in e-commerce features to remain competitive. 

Additional reading, “4 Tips for a Successful E-Commerce Website.

REECH, a yoga mat retailer, originally built their e-commerce website in 2017, but have continued to invest in their web design. Owner and CEO, Bernie Schott, explained that they added new features that would help them collect data and automate their business processes. 

“Some of my favorites are Live View (which lets me see real time customers and the page their on), Abandoned Cart (identifies when a product(s) has been left in a cart and kicks off an automated email sequence to try and recapture the customer), and an email capture popup (helping us grow our email list and gain preliminary insight into our customers),” Schott said. 

This information helps REECH connect with customers so they can market to them more effectively and increase their conversion rate. 

REECH e-commerce website design

However, Schott still wishes he ways able to collect more information about his customers, saying, “One feature I wish we had and plan on adding in the future is a heat map. This would give me greater visibility into how customers are navigating through our site. Which links they're clicking on, how much time they spend on each page/scrolling, etc. In my opinion it's needed to truly understand the behavior of our customers.”

“One feature I wish we had and plan on adding in the future is a heat map. This would give me greater visibility into how customers are navigating through our site . . . . In my opinion it's needed to truly understand the behavior of our customers.”

While adding these features may have increased the development cost, they provide useful information that can help them grow their business. 

Companies thinking about what features to include on their e-commerce website should think carefully about how they can provide the ultimate customer experience while staying in budget. 

To design the perfect website for their business, companies should do in-depth research and make a list of design features they would like to include. Then, their web design partner can help them narrow it down to stay within their budget. 

Low Traffic is the Number One Web Design Challenge for Small Businesses

While building a website can definitely help small businesses grow, the digital landscape is increasingly competitive. Simply designing a high-quality website won’t automatically increase sales. Rather, companies face many challenges once they’ve built their website. 

Small businesses list low traffic to their website (14%) as their biggest web design challenge, followed by the inability to add advanced functionalities (11%) and the cost of building or maintaining their website (11%). 

14% of small businesses say low traffic is their biggest web design challenge

Once small businesses launch their website, they must invest in supporting their website in order to grow traffic.

How Web Design Impacts Traffic 

There are many reasons why a website might not be attracting a lot of traffic, including low rankings in search, technical issues, and web design. 

David Wurst, Founder of WebCitz, a full-service development, digital marketing, and cybersecurity agency, explained why a great web design is imperative for companies trying to attract traffic to their website. 

“People establish opinions about a website within a fraction of a second of visiting it,” Wurst said.“As a result, your website must have structure, be optimized, and appear professionally designed to keep your visitors interested enough to stay.”

“People establish opinions about a website within a fraction of a second of visiting it.”

On top of that, search engines like Google prioritize websites that are user-friendly. In contrast, Google’s algorithm will penalize web pages with high bounce rates or slow page loading, displaying better-performing pages higher in search results. 

Wurst explains this more in-depth, saying, “Websites that arrive at a 404 page, have lengthy load times, have inaccurate on-page SEO elements, and are unstructured, makes navigation difficult. Poor website navigation contributes to poor traffic and high bounce rates.” 

Wurst recommends simplifying a web page’s performance by avoiding cluttered layouts. Web designers should also create a content hierarchy to make navigation easy. 

“The first hierarchy level on your landing page or homepage should be the about, contact, blog, and product page. The following level of hierarchy contains more specific subcategories for specific content. Creating hierarchies allows people to locate the information they need more efficiently, lowering bounce rates and improving your website's search engine results,” said Wurst. 

By improving on-site navigation, small businesses can improve their site’s usability, an important factor in Google’s search algorithm

5 Web Design Tips to Improve traffic

  1. Optimize for mobile devices
  2. Simplify navigation 
  3. Use white space 
  4. Resolve technical issues like 404 errors
  5. Reduce page speed

With a strong web design, pages are more likely to rank and bring in new users. Once they’ve established a great website, small businesses can attract more traffic by investing in digital marketing as well. 

What Features to Include in Your Web Design

As web design trends evolve, small businesses must adjust the look and feel of their websites to remain current and meet their customers’ expectations. 

In 2022, small businesses plan to invest the most into adding mobile capabilities (37%) to their website, followed by embeddable videos (31%), page speed (28%), dark mode (26%), and chatbots (20%).  

What website attributes do small businesses plan to invest in?

These features are particularly appealing to consumers and can have a major impact on the user experience. 

What is user experience (UX)?  

UX is the overall experience a user has while interacting with a website. By providing a better UX, designers hope to improve the customer journey and increase conversion rates. On top of that, a good UX has been shown to improve brand loyalty and enhance a company’s credibility. 

By focusing more on what users want on a website, small businesses can increase the time users spend on their site and improve brand loyalty. Here’s how these features can improve UX and enhance a website’s design. 

5 Priorities For Web Designers in 2022

  1. Mobile capabilities
  2. Embeddable videos
  3. Load time/ Page Speed
  4. Dark Mode
  5. Chatbots

Mobile Capabilities

According to Statista, mobile accounts for about half of global website traffic. However, the smaller screen size associated with mobile devices creates a very different UX than what is seen on a desktop. 

Even a website that looks great on a desktop can be difficult to navigate on a small mobile device like a smartphone, leading to higher bounce rates. 

Since most people rely on their phones to surf the web and make purchases, small businesses can’t afford to have a website that isn’t compatible with mobile devices. 

Andy Zendevich, the CEO and founder of Epiic, a design service company, explains how  small businesses can optimize their web design for mobile devices, saying, Your visitors will be using phones, tablets, or computers to access your website. Make sure your graphics are optimized for each screen size. Unoptimized graphics will load slowly and thus your site's load time.”

By creating a mobile-friendly website, companies hope to resolve these issues, provide a better UX, keep customers on their site longer. 

“This will affect your SEO and eventually your traffic from Google,” Zendevich said. 

Additional reading, ‘12 Tips for Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website’ and  ‘Is a Mobile Website or a Mobile App Best for Your Business?’

Embeddable videos 

Unlike other forms of content, video keeps people engaged and interested. Videos communicate information quickly and clearly, making it easy for users to understand what businesses are trying to say. 

As a result, people spend more time and engage more with websites that have videos on them.

Small businesses can use videos on their website to build their brand, communicate about their products, and answer their customers’ questions. 

Rather than cluttering a page with text, which isn’t very appealing to users, small businesses can provide a better UX by incorporating videos on their website. 
 
Additional reading, ‘5 Types of Video to Use on Your Website.’

Want to produce a video for your website? Hire a video production company to create high-quality content. 

Load time/ page speed 

Slow page speed can harm a web user’s experience, leading to high bounce rates. 

In fact, nearly half of consumers won’t wait more than three seconds for a page to load before clicking away.

To reduce their bounce rate and increase sales, small businesses need to improve their page’s loading time. However, there are many factors that can slow down page speed, such as: 

  • Server delays
  • Unnecessary redirects
  • Heavy CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files
  • Heavy images
  • Fancy animations

Many of these issues, such as heavy images, can easily be fixed with simple optimization strategies. Consequently, It’s best for companies to regularly check their site’s page speed so they can resolve any issues that occur. 

Pro Tip: It’s a good practice for companies to regularly check the load speed of their website. You can do this by typing in your URL at PageSpeed Insights.

Dark Mode 

Dark mode is a display setting for UIs that shows light text against a dark screen, rather than a the traditional black text on a white screen. 

This reduces the light emitted by screens, which stresses a reader’s eyes less. At the same time, dark mode maintains color contrast ratios, so text is still readable and images pop. 

Dark mode example

Source: Product Hunt

As a result, a lot of users prefer web designs that have dark mode options or dark themes. Companies looking to improve UX are considering dark mode more often. 

However, they should carefully think about their web design before creating a dark theme. There is some debate about whether dark mode hinders readability, and consequently web accessibility. 

Chatbots

Chatbots are a web feature that uses machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and natural language processing (NLP) to simulate conversations with real humans. 

Often, companies include chatbots on their website to provide better customer service and answer their users’ questions. 

 Elisa Bender, Co-founder of RevenueGeeks, wished they had invested in a chatbot, saying, “We wish that we included a live chat feature on our website for the ease and convenience of the users. Although we are working on adding this feature, it is one of the top features preferred by customers.”

“Majority of the users find live chat to be a useful feature because having their questions answered while purchasing a product online makes the buying process easier,” Bender said.  

“Majority of the users find live chat to be a useful feature because having their questions answered while purchasing a product online makes the buying process easier”

High-quality chatbots make users feel like they’re messaging with a real-life customer service agents. 

For example, the spa chain, Massage Envy has a chatbot on their website. Users can interact directly with this chatbot to find locations, book services, and ask questions that can help move them through the sales funnel. 

massage envy chatbot
Source: Massage Envy

Once they find all of information they’re looking for, customers feel more confident about booking services. As a result, a chatbot can increase the conversion rate on the website.

Web Design is More Important Than Ever for Small Businesses 

More often than not, consumers turn to search engines first before buying a service or product. As a result, it’s becoming more and more necessary for companies to have a well-designed website to compete. 

Most small businesses that don’t already have a website plan to build one in the next few years, citing the benefits of having an online presence and the ability to showcase their products and services. 

However, simply building a website isn’t enough — companies need to invest in marketing and maintenance in order to grow traffic. While the costs can add up, building a high-quality website can certainly increase sales. 

Planning to build a website for your business? Check out our list of top web design agencies

Additional Reading 

About The Survey

Top Design Firms surveyed 1,003 small business owners and managers at companies in the U.S. with fewer than 500 employees in December 2021.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of respondents are male; 43% are female.

Thirty-six percent (36%) are 18 to 34; 53% are 35 to 54; 11% are 55 or over.

Five percent (5%) of respondents’ businesses have one employee; 28% have 2 to 10 employees; 31% have 11 to 50 employees; 24% have 51 to 250 employees; 12% have 251 to 500 employees.

Respondents are from the South (42%),  West (21%), Midwest (20%), and Northeast (17%)

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