Three small business website design trends we’re tracking this year

You’re never truly done building your small business website. We’re keeping our eyes on three trends that should inspire you to keep your site looking fresh in 2019:

1. Moving from mobile-first to mobile-only

We’re no longer talking just about making sure your website’s responsive layout looks good on mobile devices. Your entire transaction flow, especially if you’re a service provider or a B2C retailer, needs to work well on a “typical” mobile device. One in five Americans now call their smartphone their primary—or only—computer.

That means your “call to action” needs to work on a phone that’s two years old. If you want your audience to call for an appointment or a reservation, include a “click to call” link. Your checkout page should work seamlessly on a small screen. If you accept Apple Pay or GPay in your checkout flow, even better.

Most important, you’ve got to own your company’s physical location in Google Maps and on Yelp. Skift founder Rafat Ali writes often about the rise of “superapps” that bypass traditional search engines. I agree with his projection that Google Maps is becoming North America’s superapp. Among our clients, we’re seeing surges of traffic from map applications. The quality of those leads often outperforms leads from organic search and social media.

2. Accessibility’s the right—and prudent—approach for small business website design

We shouldn’t have to convince you that making your small business website accessible for every audience member is the right thing to do. Yet, many business owners feel tempted to leave out support for screen readers, keyboard-only browsers, and other assistive technologies. We often hear it’s easy to justify “dropping support” for visitors with relatively low adoption rates. Many business owners worry that WCAG compliance costs too much for such a small segment of an audience.

Small business owners no longer have the luxury of making that decision based on analytics. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses to provide full accommodations when they have 15 or more full-time employees. ADA compliance also kicks in if you fall under 12 categories of public accommodations—especially stores, shops, and service establishments.

Attorneys have started filing thousands of “drive-by” accessibility lawsuits every month. As we saw with similar practices in physical retail, attorneys won’t generally wait to see whether your company’s shielded from ADA compliance based on size. In fact, many juries and judges believe that website accessibility should be “readily achievable” out of the box.

It’s far, far less expensive to make your small business website accessible than it is to even deal with one of these lawsuits. Better still, we’ve found again and again that making your website accessible for some of your audience makes it an even better experience for your entire audience.

3. Go big (with text and photos) or your customers stay home

We used to be so stingy about pixels. When I first started developing websites, we had so little screen real estate to work with. Today’s 4K desktop displays feel like theme parks compared to the corner lots we played on two decades ago.

It’s no wonder that today’s best business website layouts stretch out with big photos, huge headlines, and webfonts that luxuriate in little details.

However, if your site’s been around for a while, today’s big design trends can really call out your site’s age. Even if you’re dedicated to updating your company blog every day or cycling new inventory into your store, that 2000-and-late layout can send the wrong message to your prospects.

Website wireframe sketches on note paper.

Who are Johns & Taylor?

We’re a team of master certified user experience researchers, consultants, and digital content experts. With backgrounds in media, technology, and journalism, we understand how to help our clients accomplish their goals online.

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