Your website is your company’s face to the digital world. It can help you find more customers, establish more loyalty with existing customers, and ultimately make more money. There is no exact formula for creating a perfect website, but there are definitely a number of things that every website needs in order to be successful and functional.
A well executed site is crucial because it is a reflection of your company. Here is a list of ten things that every website needs to work efficiently, run smoothly and be found easily:
CMS (Content Management System)
A modern website needs some type of system to add new pages, upload media, and easily update content. Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, Expression Engine are all great CMSs that you can setup on your hosting system. For the less technical, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly and WordPress.org are all great solutions as they don’t require hosting or a lot of technical knowledge to get setup. Their downside is that once you stop paying for the service, your website goes away.
As outlined in our post, 10 Reasons to Power Your Website with WordPress, our personal favorite CMS is WordPress. Powering over 18% of the world’s websites, WordPress is by far the most widely used CMS. Contrary to what some may think, WordPress isn’t just for blogging. It was originally used for blogging but has slowly moved into being a full blown content management system. With an intuitive interface, WordPress is easy to use and quickly updated. There is also a very healthy ecosystem of plugins and themes to choose from and customize.
Search engine optimization is no longer an option. With so many websites competing for attention and so many people turning to Google to search for where to spend their money, having awesome SEO is crucial for business development. There are a number of things that you can do to optimize where you show up in Google’s results, as well as other search engines. In case you missed it this blog post written by Lion’s Share founder, Jesse Brede, details the 7 basic principles of SEO. Plugins like Yoast’s SEO for WordPress are also extremely helpful for getting your website search engine optimized.
The key to SEO is quality content, but quality content is important for so much more than just SEO initiatives. Your website should clearly explain what services and benefits you have to offer. All content should be clean, clear and concise. Make sure to leave any fluff out of your main pages. Quality images and well written copy also establish a level of professionalism, which instills trust about your company within your potential customers.
Blog / News
Keeping your site up-to-date with quality content through regular blog posting is one of the best ways to boost your search engine rankings. A constant production of content keeps your site fresh and on search engine’s radars. Blog about things that are useful to your potential customers and make those posts shareable. This idea is known as Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing is the idea of creating compelling content that your potential customers can learn from. This very post is an example of just that. We are giving potential customers a basic outline of what makes a great website and through that we earn their trust and demonstrate our expertise. These types of posts also do really well on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit.
Speed / Low Load Times
People don’t have the patience to sit and wait for your website to load. If your site doesn’t load immediately, rest assured any potential customer that found you online will move on to the next site. We recommend quality hosting to maximize the speed of your websites load times: WP Engine is our preferred WordPress website host, and we recommend it to everyone.
Making sure that your images are optimized for the web is also another big first step to making sure your website is snappy for your potential customers. We recommend WP Smush.it for WordPress to compress and optimize your images as you upload them.
You can use tools like Pingdom, GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed to test your websites load time and they give you a list of items to tackle to make your site load more quickly.
Clear Calls to Action
Even if your site’s SEO is perfect and its content is flawless, your website won’t be useful without clear calls to action. What’s the point in bringing a lot of traffic to your site if you have nothing on it to encourage potential customers to work with you in the future? Customers need to see things like “request a quote” and “sign up for our newsletter” to encourage them to take the next step toward working with you. If you’ve already caught their attention, it’s time to encourage them to act on it.
Call to Action
Easy to Contact
While it is important to have clear calls to action on your site, it is imperative to have ways that make you and your company easy to contact on your site. We suggest using a contact form, a map and social media links on your contact page to make it easy for potential clients to reach out to you. Again, if you’ve already caught a potential customer’s attention, then its also up to you to encourage them to act on it and convert that into a sales lead.
It’s reported that in 2015, more people will use their mobile devices to search the web than their desktop computers. In a recent article, we outlined how Google is now rewarding and labeling sites in their search results who are mobile friendly. With that said, it’s no longer optional to have a mobile version for your website. Luckily, responsive website design has come to pass. A responsive website simply means that the website layout responds to the device that you are using to view it. In other words, the website will adjust accordingly depending on if you are looking at it with a phone, tablet, computer monitor or even a television.
This is crucial; you don’t want to compromise your established and potential customer’s privacy or safety. This is particularly important for websites that have e-commerce stores built in, or other attributes that require personal information. If you are using WordPress, follow our steps on how to secure WordPress to make sure you don’t get hacked. Automated daily or weekly backups and making sure that WordPress and all your plugins are up to date is by far the most important steps.
Third party validation is important to establish a sense of trust in potential customers. People want to know who you’ve worked with and what those past clients thought about the experience. We suggest asking past clients to write short testimonials that can be used on your website after finishing their projects.
We hope you found this list of things every website needs informative when it comes to making your own site. If this all sounded overwhelming, we are always here to help you build the best site possible.