The 101 Series – What are the important features of my website?
Whether you are building your first website or planning a re-design, there are some key features that you must include. While many of these elements may seem obvious, you might be surprised how often key features are overlooked and not included. On other occasions these important aspects are present, but seem apparently hidden; so for all intents and purposes are still missing!
To begin you need to consider why you are building a website in the first place. Then you need to forget about you, and concentrate on what it is that the visitors you want to attract need from your site?
What consumers want boils down to delivering the why, where, when and how much for everything that you do! When your content answers all of these questions in a succinct and compelling manner (quickly), it would be fair to say you have cracked it!
New Website Considerations
Contact Details – One of the most important elements of your site is prominently presenting multiple ways to contact you. Including phone numbers (free phone is ideal), email address, social media links, physical addresses of your stores or business facilities, and contact forms. Contact details should be present on every page.
Design – Should incorporate a professionally developed logo. Your design needs to be simple, effective, attractive and visually appealing. First impressions count, so your design needs to be clean, modern and made with mobile devices in mind. It should be “responsive”. Pictures tell a thousand words- use high quality images that are optimised.
Navigation – The pathways to site content need to be well thought out, logical and clear. More and more people will access your website on all sorts of devices, so the navigation and design needs to be “finger friendly” and easily used on small mobile touch screens.
Content – Is everything! Be clear and concise about what you do. You need to educate, inform and engage. Use images, video, whitepapers, provide maps. Include FAQ’s; infuse keywords about your business activity and products throughout. Where possible try and deliver key content and messaging above the fold, so your visitors don’t have to scroll.
Testimonials – provide a powerful way to validate and reinforce your businesses credibility. They positively support purchasing decisions and help you attract and convert customers. When implemented (coded) correctly using structured data and micro formats, they can help promote your search engine results page display, and provide additional competitive advantage.
Site Maps – offer many important benefits. They provide users with the structure, navigation and layout of your site so they can quickly reference and access specific content. Sitemaps also assist Search Engines like Google to more intelligently crawl, understand and index your content.
Calls to Action (CTA’s) – Prominently positioned calls to action throughout your site, help visitors achieve their objectives more quickly and easily, i.e. they help conversion. Dependent on the type of site you have, you need to consider what your most important calls to actions are, and prioritise them. If you sell online it is likely to be your buy button. However, if you offer a content only site, making it easy for customers to call or email you will likely be more important you. Getting this right is a key part of the planning and design process.
Selling – If you are going to sell online through your website, a number of additional features need to be considered. Security is paramount, closely followed by multiple payment types and a fast and intuitive checkout process. Along with all the other features above, you need to provide easy access to warranty and returns information; including phone, chat and physical address details.
Technical Delivery – While all of the above elements will contribute to providing a good user experience, the reality is for visitors to find you; you need to also perform in Search Engines. In a slightly dated report by the Pew Research Centre they tell us “more than 60% of adult users who use the internet, use search on a daily basis.” As search engines don’t see your website like a user does, it is important your site is set up technically in the best way to give you every chance of appearing in online search results for searches about your products and services. If your site is not set up technically in an optimal manner you will have little chance of ranking or being found.
Fast – Your site needs to be fast, it needs to be optimised so it loads quickly on every device. No one wants to wait!
Regardless of the type of business you are in, all visitors to a website want to find what they are looking for and they want to find it fast!
A study by Hubspot reinforces this contention, they tell us – “76% of consumers say the most important factor in a websites design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want”
Lastly, use an expert!
Digital strategy, design, website development, conversion, social marketing and SEO/SEM are complex. Your business website is too important for a DIY approach, do it right!
Stuart Clark – www.strategus.co.nz