What is the No. 1 design element small businesses should be incorporating into their websites to increase visitor engagement?

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1. Establish your unique value proposition.

Chris Van DusenDetermine the best way to explain or express your unique value proposition to your visitors. What problem or pain point are you solving for and how is your unique offering different or better than anyone else’s? This is the hook. Everything else on your site should ladder back to it in a supporting role.  – Chris Van Dusen, Parcon Media

2. Design for mobile devices.

Bryanne LawlessMobile-first is a heavy topic nowadays and for good reason. Nearly 60% of search queries for your business are now coming from mobile devices, and 75% of online consumption will be mobile at the end of 2017. If you are not making your website mobile friendly, you won’t have a company in 2018.  – Bryanne Lawless, BLND Public Relations 

3. Give them the information they’re seeking.

Ryan WilsonThe top design priority should always be smart, effective copy displayed as prominently as possible. Site visitors seek some form of information — give it to them. If there were ever a time to dazzle your way into a client’s heart with a fancy website, it’s long over. Design trends change, but action-based language that resonates with your target audience will always be critical to success.  – Ryan Wilson, FiveFifty

4. Offer videos to visitors.

Kalin KassabovHaving a video on your homepage that highlights the main benefits you offer is a powerful way to introduce your business. Your video should be short and not on autoplay. Videos that start playing automatically annoy many visitors. Give people a choice and let them click on your video. Many will do so and get a helpful intro to your services.  – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

5. Put a face to a name.

Jacob GoldmanFor small businesses, high-quality photography can forge a connection with site visitors. This is especially true of brick-and-mortar businesses that rely on customer service to win customers. On-location photos are “establishing shots” that solidify a local feel; employee photos offer a human element that typically resonates. This authenticity shows a business’s personality and enhances trust.  – Jacob Goldman10up Inc.

6. Put your call to action in the right spot.

Ajay GuptaWhile it sounds basic, I would say having the right information before your calls to action is paramount. Placing a CTA too early is the equivalent of a car salesperson asking you to buy before you’ve seen the car. However, putting too much information before the CTA will overwhelm the user and hurt conversions. A/B testing goes a long way toward optimizing your website flow.  – Ajay Gupta, Stirista

7. Utilize an email capture pop-up.

Kyle GoguenUtilize an email capture pop-up to engage with your visitors and gather leads. Think outside the box and create an offer that your customers value and won’t be able to resist. Building a targeted email database allows you to re-engage and nurture leads at a later date, leading to long-term engagement and ultimately a higher number of conversions.  – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

8. Create a logical page hierarchy.

Vik PatelConfusing sites kill engagement. If information is hard to find, visitors head back to Google and try again. If a site is hard to navigate, testimonials, videos and social sharing widgets aren’t effective. Create a logical page hierarchy with accessible navigation, easily understood and clutter-free page layouts, and useable search. Make the site a pleasure to use and people will use it.  – Vik Patel, Future Hosting

9. Make sure the typography is readable.

Justin BlanchardDespite the rise of video and audio, the web is, at heart, a textual medium. Text with poor legibility can hit engagement and conversions hard. Choose readable fonts, display them at an appropriate size and make sure the contrast between the background and text is sufficient. Readable typography is an essential foundation for all other design optimizations. Get the typography right first.  – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

10. Have a consistent style across your website.

Nicole MunozConsistency is key, especially when it comes to design. The closer your design comes to feeling like a brand, the higher your credibility and trust will be when conveyed to your buyer. Small businesses can struggle with maintaining a competitively professional appearance. Being consistent across your website will allow you to build this essential trust.  – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

11. Offer live chat.

Diego OrjuelaTwenty to 30% of our daily interactions with customers are over chat. Chat provides a channel for customers who cannot engage over the phone for privacy reasons or simply prefer to multitask while interacting with our company. Customer engagement via chat increases as additional support such as links or attachments make chatting a more complete communication channel.  – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

12. Provide social proof.

Jason ApplebaumBy putting social proof on your page, you will find your visitors stay longer and have more trust in whatever your page is saying or selling. Examples of these could be reviews on your product or brand in the form of video or text from user submission, or positive reviews on social media, Amazon or eBay.  – Jason Applebaum, Egear Media

13. Ensure the fundamentals are easily accessible.

Richard KershawWhat’s the name of the parent company? Where’s your postal address? What hours are you open? If you are secretive about the fundamentals of your business, I’m unlikely to trust you with my credit card details.  – Richard Kershaw, WhoIsHostingThis.com

14. Make your point above the fold.

Solomon TimothyA clear and easy-to-understand value proposition, with appropriate imagery, is the No. 1 design element any small business should have on their website. You can write hundreds of words of copy, but if you don’t include what value you bring to the consumer above the fold, no one is going to stay longer than three seconds! – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS