Whether you want to increase your readership, interact more effectively with your customers, build a web presence, or make more sales online, there are certain key attributes that your website should possess. Below is a list of features that we think are the most essential for a successful website:
1.Eye-Catching Images and Design
The attention span of web users is getting shorter and shorter, which is why your website should visually stop the user in their tracks. Images that are eye-catching and a layout that is aesthetically pleasing are vital to ensure that your visitors stay on your site long enough to find out more about you and/or your business.
However, you should keep in mind two caveats: firstly, images that take time to load will frustrate your users and increase your bounce rate; and the images that you use should be relevant to your website’s topic.
2. Regular, Fresh, and Engaging Content
The main purpose of adding content to your site should be to interact with your readership and to brand yourself as an expert. Publish content that your readers enjoy so that they will keep coming back to your site for more.
Aside from this, regular content is great for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes – Google loves sites that are updated frequently. It also gives you the chance to target some specific keywords that are relevant to your niche. However, don’t let ‘keyword targeting’ compromise the readability of your content – always remember that you are writing for a human audience.
3. Compatibility with Multiple Browsers
If your website is not compatible with certain browsers, you risk alienating a segment of your audience, and are a good way to make a bad first impression on a visitor. Be sure to test out your site with Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer to make sure that it is compatible with each.
Ever browsed the web on your phone? You can bet that a large number of your readers do. The convenience of being able to web surf quickly from any location with the use of a phone and that 91% of all smart phone users have their phone within arm’s reach 24/7 (Morgan Stanley, 2012) means that a large section of your audience will want to view your website on their phone.
Mobile Internet usage is expanding and, according to Microsoft Tag, it will exceed desktop access by 2014. Therefore, you can’t afford to not have a mobile-friendly website.
5. Visible Contact Information
Providing your contact details on your site is a great way to increase your credibility, to interact with your readers, to obtain leads/prospects, and to ensure proper customer service.
A simple call-to-action and enquiry form allow you to easily interact with potential customers. For example, small businesses can use this to offer their customers a quote depending on the amount of goods/services that they require or respond with specific information depending on their needs.
Keep it simple and do not go overboard on details – having to fill out 20 fields is a big turn off.
For straightforward communication purposes like asking for feedback about your site prompting your reader for their email address, the subject of the enquiry, and their message, should be sufficient. At the same time, it’s important to realise that different people respond to different types of call-to-actions so you may wish to have more than one type on your site.
Make sure that whatever contact method you use is in plain sight so that your readers can get in touch with you quickly and easily.
6. Convenient Navigation
No one likes visiting a website that is confusing or difficult to navigate – and visitors will leave if they can’t find their way around easily. Make sure that you have a simple layout so that your readers can find what they are looking for and will stay on your site instead of heading to your competitors.
Keep it simple and use standard formatting of menus as well as your logo in the top left corner, which leads back to the home page.
7. Allows You to Track Important Metrics
Continually monitor your visitor stats in order to work out your site’s strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities to expand your readership and to improve conversions.
Google offers a fantastic and comprehensive free resource called Google Analytics, which enables all website owners to determine who is visiting their site, what they are looking for, where they are coming from, what browser they are using, and how they interact with your site. This includes information on what search terms people are entering to find your site, which is extremely valuable for SEO purposes. Tracking these metrics is easy to do and is vital for developing a strong online presence.
8. Can be Updated Through a CMS
A CMS (content management system) allows those with little knowledge of web programming languages to publish and edit content with ease, greatly increasing efficiency and allowing you to publish content quickly. Additionally, being able to access the CMS keeps you, as the business owner, in control.
9. Effective On-Page and Off-Page SEO
Being able to get on the front page of Google for a specific search term as a result of good SEO practices can generate an avalanche of traffic to your website. Effective on-page SEO methods include publishing quality content with optimal keyword density (the number of times your keyword appears compared to the total number of words on a page), internal linking, correct use of tags and URL structure, and the use of site maps. Off-page SEO is more concerned with the number of external links that point to your site. SEO can be very complicated but can yield huge results so you might want to consult an SEO company to help you with this aspect of your marketing.
10. Social Media Integration
Social media is no longer just for social purposes – the explosion of the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other sites means that all businesses should be taking advantage of their viral nature by having a social media presence. Social media can help your business interact with customers; enhance communication, and increase creditability and transparency.
Integrating social media tools on your website is a great way to allow your readers to easily share your content and spread your message to their contacts. Having a piece of your content go viral on social media sites will result in a lot of traffic to your site and the added benefits that increased exposure can bring.
These are the ten features that we think every successful website should have. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you can implement all of these key characteristics, you will be on your way to building a strong and profitable web presence.