Setting up a new website or even revamping an old site, can be a daunting task. With all the features, plugins and technologies available in 2016, how can you even begin to choose what to include?
The answer will vary according to what industry you’re in and what your site needs to achieve, but there are some fundamentals that visitors will expect in order to help them have an enjoyable experience. Here are the five main features your website really needs:
1. Business information
Regardless of its industry, every business website needs to provide essential information, and you can’t go too far wrong if you stick to the 5 W’s:
- Who are you, what do you do and what is your mission statement?
- What product or service do you offer?
- Where can this product or service be accessed?
- Why should people use your business over others?
- When can customers use your product or service?
Your ‘About Us’ page is the best place to centralise your info, but visitors should be able to figure you out from any page.
You should also collect and review any information or queries received from visitors, before using it to build up a bank of FAQs. It’s not only a great navigational tool, it can also help to boost your search rankings by providing direct answers to regular search terms.
2. Navigational aids
There’s a host of visual and text-based cues that you can use to make navigating your website a more user-friendly experience:
- Keep the design simple
- Design for mobile and desktop use
- Label menus/links clearly
- Use links to direct visitors
- Make the site layout intuitive
- Include a site map
- Use strong calls to action to instruct visitors
- Use colourful buttons to highlight key commands
3. Contact information
It’s a good idea to include both a contact form and a list of contact information so that people can use their preferred method of contact. You should include your company details and address on your site, even if you don’t think anyone will actually use them, as these help to build trust.
Think about the last time you went to a contact page that only had a form and no other information – did you get in touch? Probably not.
4. Engaging, regular content
Publishing high quality content on a regular basis is both a way to climb Google’s search rankings, and to build authority and trust with your audience. Here are some of the best ways to get started:
- News/blog content
- White papers and guides
- Landing pages targeted to popular search terms
You can use leading news channels or Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what people in your industry are talking about, before publishing your content and pushing it out through social media.
5. Analytics tools
Now that you’re all set up, you’ll want to know how people are using your site in order to drive future improvements. Embed the free Google Analytics code into your website in order to discover:
- Whether you are getting enough new visitors, where they come from and whether they’re returning
- How your visitors are accessing your site, which browsers or devices they are using
Which pages are most/least popular, and where people click-through or bounce (i.e. leave your site without interacting)
A website isn’t just one extra way to put your message across, it is your online shopfront. So, make your you give it the time and features it deserves, and create an engaging, enticing space that visitors will want to return to time and again.