Thanks to the many tools and services on the web, anyone can build a website. In fact, you don’t even need to have any previous website design training, or understand programming. But just because one can build a website, it doesn’t mean that it will necessarily accomplish your objectives. There are a lot of considerations when creating a powerful and engaging website that will help your business.
We have all seen those websites that are hard to use, load painfully slow or are just right ugly. It might be that the site is severely outdated, the colors are garish, or perhaps finding information feels like a scavenger hunt. If you are building a website, there are very important considerations to make it successful. Some things are evident when you look at a website and others are behind the scenes.
Elements to consider that are evident when viewing a website:
- Clear compelling calls to action on every page – have a plan for how visitors navigate the site.
- Subscriber Opt-in – While this is best on the homepage of a site, the contact us page is also a good place to consider. Methods to capture information include ebooks, whitepapers, coupons, newsletter signup, and free offers.
- Shopping and Check out – Be sure that your shopping cart is easy for guests to locate and review, along with popular checkout methods such as Square, PayPal and other secure payment options.
- Social Media – Being on a social media platform is only useful if people know about it. Your website needs to have social media “Follow” and “Share” capabilities. You don’t have to connect to every platform, but do be sure to include the ones your business is using.
- Don’t forget the visuals! From pictures to infographics and videos, people are engaged by visual elements. Especially important images to include are those on your “About Us” page, the header of your home page and any product(s) you are selling or promoting. Videos are great for promoting your products and letting people know what you are offering them. Try Pixabay to find a free photo to use on your blog, for example.
- Readability – Make your site’s content easy to read. From the length of sentences, to how the content is broken up, each element plays a part in crafting a user-friendly website.
- Whitespace -Your website doesn’t need to be crowded. Having ‘empty’ space that acts as a buffer between elements like copy, sidebar, margins, images, etc. makes it easier for guests to spend time on your website.
- Simple Color Palette – Along with a good balance of white space, is a strong but limited color palette. Color schemes are important and will help create a cohesiveness on your website. Ideally, you want one background color and an accent color, though some site designs lend themselves to a third color. In the event that the colors start to look repetitive, consider using different shades and tints of your current colors.
- Typography – Choose a font that represents your company while still being easy to read. Think about your company’s brand. Is it fun or serious? Informational or just functional? There are thousands of fonts to choose from, so look for one that sends a message that goes beyond the words themselves. Check out Google’s Font repository.
- The Hamburger Menu – This is a design feature that stacks the various pages of a website in one corner or other rather than having a string of words along the side or top of the site. It is particularly useful for mobile websites since there’s typically not enough room for traditional navigation.
- The Headline, or Hero – This is a large graphic or video at the top of your website that tells, in a glance, who you are and what you have to offer. Keep it simple and to the point, so that guests quickly know if they are on the right site.
- Logo – If your company has a logo, be sure it is easily visible at the top of your website. Resist the urge to make it huge!
- Domain– Choose a domain name that is simple to remember and easy to spell so people can find you without trouble. Including search terms in your URL may help.
- Live Chat – More and more sites are implementing Live Chat as a way to better connect with their guests, taking online customer service to a new level.
- Footer – Utilize the footer of your website by having easy to find links to key offers, pages or products.
- Contact info – No website is complete without providing site guests with contact info such as name(s), phone number, physical location, hours of operation and a contact form so they can leave you feedback.
- Mobile Friendly – Design with mobile being a priority- after all, people look at your site on all types of screens and you want it to look great no matter what device they are using. In addition, having a mobile friendly website will boost your search engine ranking, too.
Elements that may not be visible on a website that should be considered:
- Have methods to track conversions and traffic, such as Google Analytics.
- Fast loading – Today’s society is impatient (not surprised, are you?) so people are not willing to wait more than 2-3 seconds before moving to another website – potentially, your competition! To ensure your website loads quickly, be sure to always optimize photos, enable compression so files can be smaller and open quicker, and minimize HTTP requests.
- Internal Links – Make it easy for people to navigate within your website by linking relevant products, blog posts and other elements on your site.
- Quality hosting – Don’t skimp on hosting costs. Work with a provider who can keep your website up and running, and perform updates and backups for your site so you don’t have to.
- No extraneous plugins – It is important to avoid having too many plugins for WP sites. There are a number of great plugins out there, but you don’t need to have all of them – often each plugin you add will slow down your site. Be selective and only choose those that are most effective for your site’s needs.
- Have SEO boosting elements. Search engine optimization is a must for an effective website. Design elements such as meta tags, title tags, heading tags and other HTML coding all play a part in boosting your website’s ‘find-ability.’
- Have a CMS (Content Management System) which helps you more easily manage the content on your website or blog. WordPress is a popular CMS.
- Is your site an e-commerce site? Then be sure to have an inventory management tool. This will make the checkout process easier for your guests, while letting you know when you need to order more products.
- Search indexing – Submit your website’s sitemap to popular search engines to help with diagnosing any issues with your site. Google Webmaster Tools is a great place to start.
By implementing these 25 components to your site, you can be sure to have a website that doesn’t suck. Still have questions about building a successful online presence? Contact the Page Progressive team today.