No matter what you’re selling or how much experience you have in the industry, your website is going to be critical to the success of your business. Website standards have come a long way over the past few decades, and today it’s almost a given that your site will be easy to use, intuitive and informative. These are just a few of the factors that Google includes in its ranking algorithm. Designing a good website can feel like a daunting task, but fortunately there are various universal traits that you should make a point of including. Here are some essential ingredients to any good website…
I’m going to start this off with an over-used cliché: less is more. If you’re tired of hearing this, remember that there’s a good reason why it pops up in so many posts on creative endeavors: it’s true, and far too many people ignore it! Your users will want a website that’s simple, with minimal text, visuals that pack a punch, and links and buttons that are easy to understand. Above all, you need to make sure you give them a simple, concise navigation. Unless it’s 110% necessary for your site to serve its function, don’t include several different levels and areas for navigation. Instead, give your users a single, neatly arranged row of tabs and buttons.
Although this is something we all judge websites by, a lot of entrepreneurs manage to overlook it. The modern consumer is extremely impatient. They want to reach what they’re looking for, as quickly as possible, with minimal delays. If you make any of your web users wait for more than 8 to 10 seconds, you’ll stand a serious risk of losing them forever. A lot of them won’t even wait the full 8 seconds before deciding to go elsewhere! Your pages have to load quickly, downloads have to happen quickly, and orders have to be processed quickly. There are a number of factors that dictate how fast and responsive your website will be, such as the number of plugins you have, the VPS you use, and how well-optimized your images are for the page. Loading speed can have a profound impact on your business’s bottom line, and as computers and devices become more and more sophisticated, this is only going to become more important.
Ease of Use
Closely tied in with speed and simplicity, the simple usability of your site is another major factor to think about. If your site is easy to use, your users will have no questions or qualms. If it’s difficult to use, on the other hand, they’ll be liable to give up on you, and take their business elsewhere. As you can imagine, usability isn’t always the easiest thing to pin down. That’s why there’s a multi-million-dollar consulting industry built around it. However, you can fine-tune the usability of your website with a decent application of common sense, an understanding of your target market’s mindset and needs, and of course, an intuitive, easy to understand navigation system.
Attention to Detail
As they say, the devil is in the details. Product info, customer service resources, FAQ, and terms of service information are just a few of the nitty-gritty things you may need to include in your website. Yes, you should try to keep things simple, especially when it comes to navigation. However, having made it as simple as possible for your users to find the information they’re looking for, you should always give them a lot of detail once they land on the page they’re looking for. Your typical web user doesn’t just dislike excessive amounts of scrolling – they absolutely despise it! The one exception is when they’ve found the content that they were looking for in the first place. This is where detail is more important than ever. This point especially true when it comes to product descriptions and content explaining your services. Far too many modern businesses treat their websites like a full-blown marketing brochure, which is precisely what your customers want to avoid when they’re trying to find some information, product or service online. Keep the home page well-organized and thin on the ground, but when it comes to pages that are intended to inform, don’t leave your customers wanting.
Good SEO Content
Before there’s even the slimmest chance of your customers making a purchase from you, they have to be able to find you. This is where SEO comes in. If Google, Yahoo and Bing (you can forget about any other search engine) doesn’t rank you highly on the kinds of words and phrases your target market are searching for, then you’re going to have a hard time making any sales at all! High-value SEO content will be ranked highly, and listed in the first page of results for a given query typed into Google. I could write a whole other guide on SEO, as it’s a pretty big subject. However, at the very least, you should make sure you have a fair concentration of SEO-optimized content. Do some research to determine the most common 5-10 phrases used by your target market, and deliver content with a good density of those words and phrases.
Multiple Communication Channels
Modern consumers want to be able to do all their research online, and you should be doing your best to supply your target market with the information they need. However, if they can’t find what they’re looking for, you better make it easy for them to find your phone number! Failing this, an email address, a live chat window, or links to your social media profiles need to be within easy reach. Ideally, your site will contain everything they need to get the information they want. However, you should also give them access to different channels which they can use to contact you. Fail to do this, and you’ll chase away a large chunk of your prospective customer base.
There are many more ingredients to a great website, but covering these bases is sure to start you off in the right direction.