There is no clear-cut way to go about creating a website. Nor is there a secret handbook that details how to piece together all the personalized elements of a well rounded website in a way that is exclusive to your company.
The only known definite is that a prosperous website pulls out all the stops to meet the needs of the business and customers alike. Websites that really stand out in the crowd and top the rankings don’t skimp when it comes to their business’ online presence and they don’t leave holes for competitors to fill.
Whether you are building a new website from scratch or renovating your old website, make sure your website isn’t missing any of these key elements:
1. Mobile Responsive Design
How does your website look on a mobile device? The world is continuing to display an upward trend in mobile usage and your website must be designed with mobile first in mind. Google even favors and prioritizes mobile responsive websites in search algorithms and your customers are also demanding that your website be mobile responsive. The numbers show that 84% of small businesses optimized for mobile reported an increase in customers and saw immediate and long-term benefits.
2. User-Friendly Navigation
If visitors need a map and a compass to navigate your website, you may have missed the mark here. Yes, your website needs to be original and innovative, but navigation isn’t the place to unleash your creativity. Using drop-down menus, graphical buttons instead of links, and generic labels are a few navigational mishaps that are adversely affecting your site’s traffic and search engine rankings. Navigation needs to be descriptive and concise. Period.
3. Contact Information
As a business owner, you need to appear to be 100% available to your customers. To achieve this online, have a standard contact form that can easily be filled out, as well as a prominently displayed email address and phone number. Visitors may even grant you more credibility if your physical address is posted. The best home for all this info is in the footer of your website, so it can be found on every page. In addition, be sure there is an entire page dedicated solely to your detailed contact information and a standard contact form.
4. Up-To-Date Content
Content is the meat and potatoes of your website, and details like outdated content, that verify your website hasn’t been touched in years, speaks volumes about your company. If your website looks the same as it did five years ago, your customers will notice. Fresh content is essential, particularly because it boosts SEO capabilities and keeps your visitors engaged and coming back for more. When creating content think about variety and what represents your brand best. At the end of the day, up-to-date content is the framework for your overall web presence.
5. Solid Branding
Businesses and brand identities evolve over time and your website must adapt to stay relevant. Whether your brand has undergone a complete renovation or experienced a change over the years, your website needs to solidify your brand and reflect your current identity. Take the time to evaluate if your website is representing your current vision and mission in a way that relates to your customers. The next step is to ensure that your brand is well defined to your customers. Writing a strong, yet sound mission statement is a good place to start.
6. Social Media Links
It’s time to harness the power of social media because 78% of Americans and nearly 2 billion people worldwide are active where the hashtags happen. Platforms that initiate engagement with customers will increase your visibility and send targeted traffic to your website. Adding social media icons will allow users to click and share content and easily move between social media and your site. Posting relevant, interesting updates that give your followers the inside scoop will build relationships that convert to customer loyalty. Even if it takes a minute to rally a substantial following, social media will boost viewership and drop Google a hint that your website is the real deal.
7. About Us Page
After your home page, this is likely the most visited page on your website. This is the place to tell everyone what you’re all about. Craft your story in a way that shines a light on your ability to solve your prospects problems. Let visitors know how the company was founded, who the principal players are, and what your mission and beliefs are. This helps the user relate while bringing a face to your business. Ultimately, the about us page is your opportunity to let customers get to know, like, and trust you. So be sincere and be transparent.
8. Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is one of those mysterious things that people kind of know about, but don’t really know how to explain. Like trying to describe the taste of water. The important thing to know is that SEO gets your website near the top of a Google search. A high search engine ranking is important because it’s free and it’s usually the number one way potential customers will stumble upon your online abode. And if search engines cannot find your site easily, neither will your clients.
9. Call to Action
This is where you get to tell people what to do. So first, figure out what you want visitors to do. Do you want them to schedule an appointment, request more information, or add a product to their cart? Then say so! A call to action can be an interactive experience as simple as “contact us today” or “learn more” – anything that prompts an action. Whatever it is, make sure your call to action is visible and strong. This isn’t the time to play hard to get.
Once you’ve done enough things right to have a few people brag about your awesomeness–flaunt it! Reading people’s real stories and experiences with your company will help convince potential customers to do business with you. Remember the key is quality, not quantity here. Only add the best testimonials–the well written, error-free, to the point endorsements. Quote the lines that steer attention to your best dealings.
11. Google Analytics
As the gold standard for website traffic monitoring, Google Analytics collects valuable nuggets of information for you, like number of visitors, how long visitors are staying, how they are getting there, etc. Reviewing your website’s Google Analytics report on a regular basis can shine a light on your strengths and weaknesses and help you determine where your best referral traffic comes from to help measure your efforts.
12. Hacker Protection
Don’t let your website be an easy target. Installing Wordfence Security and purchasing an SSL Certificate, which is like a padlock for usernames, passwords, and credit card info, are necessary measures to be taken. Another basic precaution is manually installing WordPress and changing the default settings so hackers can’t jump in and wreak havoc all over your business. You lock up your brick and mortar location, right? Don’t forget to lock up your virtual location too.
13. Automatic Site Backup
Purchasing automatic site backup from your website’s hosting company is a must. If your hosting company doesn’t offer it, a system like BackUpWordPress can also be used to protect your website. This way if your website breaks down it is a simple process to restore it, saving ‘future you’ a big headache. Automatic site backup also serves you well if you are hacked or if an upgrade happens to break the site.
14. Eye-Catching Design
Let’s face it; looks are everything. Humans are visual creatures that like pretty pictures, so it’s no secret that the appearance of your website is directly related to your perceived credibility. Your website must have an eye-catching design that’s consistent, simple, and has a good color scheme. More importantly, the photos and imagery displayed on your website need to be high quality, professional, and unique to your business. Images transcend language and words and allow for a greater understanding of your brand, so tell a story with the photos on your website.
Research has continually shown that having a regularly updated blog on your site will drive in exponentially more traffic. Constantly adding fresh, quality content to your site helps you stand out in the eyes of search engines, driving your SEO strategy home. As an added bonus, an active blog also serves as a treasure trove of content that can be shared on your social media networks. But at the end of the day, a blog humanizes your business. This quality alone forms strong connections and meaningful interactions with customers in a way no other approach can.
Constructing a website is a creative and productive way to showcase your business. But since creativity doesn’t follow the rules and each business website merits its own individuality, it can be difficult to assess how well you rank in any of these 15 categories. For an honest opinion, contact Net Designs today and we’ll go through your website and give you a straightforward assessment on any and all of these points. Let us help you increase the effectiveness of your website and provide you with the missing pieces!
Author: Kendall Dick, Net Designs Blogger
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