10 Essential Elements Every Business Website Must Have.
It’s no secret that businesses all over the world are online these days. The Yellow Pages are just about obsolete and we are officially in a Google era. When your customer wants information about you, your product, or your service, more often than not the first place they go to is the internet. In fact, 78% of internet users conduct product research online. If you don’t have a website, you’re missing out on outrageous amounts of business.
But you know that already. Your challenge is not in deciding whether you should or should not have a website. Instead, your challenge is wondering what all you should include in your company’s website. This list of crucial elements will be a great starting place for you.
1.Good Visual Design.
With everything being digital these days, we are overloaded with information. If your website isn’t visually pleasing, I promise you that your competitor’s is and you’re losing money because of it. Take a look at these two examples, both from the same industry.
Now, this isn’t a post about how-to design great websites so I won’t go into all the particulars, but just ask yourself one question. If you had never been to either restaurant and your first impression of them was from their website, which one would you feel more comfortable visiting? Which one would you expect fine dining from?
Make sure you do your research. Web design isn’t just about what looks good to you. Does it work for your target market? What are other websites in your industry doing that might be stealing your customers away from you? If you don’t have the time to do the research yourself then hire a professional designer to do it. One way or another, make sure it gets done and that you have a visually appealing website.
Bottom line is that a customer MUST know what you are selling when they come to your website. If there is any confusion at all they will likely go elsewhere. Confusion because of a website will also lead to distrust. And if a customer doesn’t trust you or your company, you will not be making the sale.
3. Ease of Use.
This is similar to clarity of what your selling except that it references the visual presentation of your entire site. Your customer should be able to get where they want to go, without unnecessary frustration. However, this does NOT mean to list a link to every page contained within your site on your home page. You want to make your website user-friendly and cluttering up your home page with loads of information will do the exact opposite. You will also then have failed to satisfy requirement #1 (good visual design) and will have two strikes against you.
This ties in with #3. Your website should absolutely have a search bar somewhere on the homepage. You want your customers to be able to find exactly what they want to find in mere seconds.
5. Personality Behind the Company.
This is especially true for service providers. People do business with brands they like. It is much easier to get someone to like you if you show your personality. Whether it’s showing the CEO’s personality or the brand, it doesn’t matter. But a personality must exist.
6. Fast Load Time.
People have short attention spans. With the invention of twitter and the 140 character cut-off, attention spans are getting even shorter. Gone are the days of dial-up internet where people expected a photograph to take 30 seconds to load. You absolutely have to make sure that your images are web optimized and that all your widgets and do-dads load as quickly as possible.
In my personal opinion, every business should be blogging. Not only will it drive traffic to your website and increase exposure, it will also help you sell your customers on your personality. It’s also a phenomenal way to educate your customers about why you are better than your competitor.
Since after reading #7 everyone is now blogging, you should also have an rss feed that people can subscribe to. If your company sends out a newsletter, you should also have a way to subscribe to that. This is just good marketing. If you’re not doing this, you’re not gaining access to your customer’s attention stream and you know how the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”
Good Great Content.
One of my favorite bloggers/salesmen is Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich. As he himself says, “I want to give [my customers] results in advance. I want to show them that my free stuff is better than anyone else’s paid stuff.”
The result? A website that is ranked 19,466 on Alexa. It hosts over 250,000 monthly readers, and has 100,000+ newsletter subscribers. But most importantly, Ramit’s tactics get his readers results. See this post, where over 500 readers wrote 54,818 words that say so.
There is no substitute for great content. If you are going to have a blog you will have to generate great content.
10. Contact Information.
I can’t believe I have to add this to the list, but I do. There are so many websites out there that forget to list their contact information! Triple check this if you have to, but this is an absolute must for business websites.
There are many other items we can add to the list but this is a good starting point. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.
Breathe. Live. Love. Create.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Statistic provided in introductory paragraph can be found here.