22 things every site must have
We love a good list as much as the next person – so here’s our top 22 list of things every site must have (no matter if it’s an estate agent website, e-commerce website or just a simple brochure site). This list comprises recommendations we include in all our proposals;
Content, Content, Content
This can not be stressed enough, but it’s something even our more conscientious clients neglect. You need to address two audiences with your content, first (and foremost) your customers and secondly Google.Good content is critical to selling yourself to your clients, so punchy headlines and bold calls-to-action are key and remember those keywords, sprinkle them around and enjoy the SEO rewards.
A Strong Social Presence
Social media marketing is a powerful tool in the right hands and it’s critical to take control of your brand. This means keeping your Facebook and Twitter accounts on brand, on message and most importantly up-to-date. Once you’ve got those under control depending on your needs you’ll then want to explore: YouTube, Vimeo, Google+, Tumblr, Dribble, Pintrest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr and the social bookmarking sites like Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit to really spread that brand message.
Speaking of social media – it’s critical to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to share your content, the more they share the more traffic you’ll get. Well placed social sharing buttons on every page/post will be enough to entice your visitors to share.
What’s the point of having a website if you can’t quantify its reach or how many enquiries it draws in? Analytics is key to understanding who uses your site and how they use it. We use the industry standard Google Analytics to track the basics: page views, unique visits, incoming traffic sources (e.g. from a Google search or a direct link) and then depending on the site we would integrate advanced goals to track how users travel around the site.
In-Your-Face Contact Details
So you’ve done the hard bit; got the potential customer to your website, they love what you sell – if only they could find your phone number? But you’ve gone and hidden it away on your “Contact Us” page – which of course you’ve only linked in your footer! Don’t lose sales to silly design mistakes, have your phone number, email address or contact form in plain sight at all times.
Contact Form / Live Chat
Sometimes people just don’t like speaking on the phone, or go through the hassle of opening up an email client – so don’t give them an excuse to give up on contacting you. Every site should have a simple, easy to use, contact form. All you need is; Name, Email/Phone and their Message. The easier it is, the less likely they will want to click away.
Got the man power to answer customers questions live? Then a Live Chat will help give your site the added personal touch.
A Page About You
A lot of users view the internet with a hint of suspicion, why not allay their fears with an “About Us” page. Key information to include in a concise, friendly paragraph; What do you do? Who do you do it for? How long have you been doing it? What makes you different from the rest?
A Page About Your Team
Got a staff of tens, hundreds, thousands? Shout about it – It’s all about building trust, the bigger you are the more trust worthy you seem. You should be at least listing your key personnel (e.g. management, sales and support staff), anyone the client is likely to speak to on a day-to-day basis.
We find that our best sales people are our clients. If you’ve carefully nurtured your client list then use them to boost your credibility.
Create a Newsletter
Why not use a newsletter to keep in touch with your existing client base – share your latest products and announcements, it’s the easiest way to keep in touch with your clients and with newsletter analytics you can finely tune your mail shots and ensure you message is reaching the right people.
Write A Blog
Blogs are wonderful things, they serve as a three pronged attack: They engage your customers, they keep your site up-to-date and they expand your content footprint. Good for your customers and good for Google. Do remember to keep blogging, at least fortnightly posts will keep your content from going stale!
A little old-school these days but still worth doing, RSS Feeds allow your blog content to be quickly read and syndicated around the web, building vital back links to your site which will help your SEO rankings.
A Full Sitemap
You’ll need two site maps for your site, one for the user and one for the search engines. A simple well designed page with links to the key areas of your site is an invaluable tool for customers who are a little bit lost on your site. An XML Sitemap for Google, Yahoo and Bing will ensure that they are able to crawl every aspect of your site. After all, you don’t want them to miss all that content you slaved over do you?
Web users these days are so used to searching for exactly what they want – so why should the searching stop at Google? If your site is big enough think about integrating a search so they can find what they need quickly and easily.
A Helpful Navigation
Of course your customers wouldn’t need a search and a sitemap if you had helpful navigation. Stay away from multi-multi-level nightmares. Use a clear one or two word header and if you do need a drop down list, keep it short and sweet. Only put the critical stuff in the top navigation. Leave the boring legal links for the footer, no need to overstuff that header.
A Good Design
The only way you’re going to get a good navigation is to have one expertly designed by Kaweb, your very own web designers in the Birmingham and Staffordshire area, if you catch our drift! But seriously, a strong design that’s had careful attention paid to it in detail will wow your customer and leave a lasting impression. Gone are the days of Frontpage, Dreamweaver and £2.99 a month template builds – this is something you cannot afford to do cheaply or you risk doing again it again properly 6 months down the line.
As Web Designers our number one bugbear is poor photography which can kill a design. If you have a beautiful product you need to show it in its full glory and that isn’t achieved using your iPhone. If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer then look to stock photography to fill the gap. We particular enjoy using iStockPhoto and Shutter Stock for their extensive photo libraries.
A Moving Video
Cheesy title, but let that be on the only thing cheesy about it. Video’s aren’t cheap, but done well can have a huge impact on your site, it’s like having a sales person your client can pause and rewind to their hearts content. Get that video on YouTube and Vimeo for maximum effect.
So now that your client is browsing your site and loving your video it’s time to sell them something. “Calls-to-Action” as they are known are those little visual nudges you give to your customer to get them on to the right page and clicking the right things. But use them sparingly if everything tries to stand out and get the users attention then in the end you’re back to where you started with all your key points hidden by each other.
Make Sure It’s Tested
Before you launch and before you start that major advertising campaign take time to ensure you’ve tested everything. We’ve learnt over the years that the longer you’re working on a project the more complacent you become, so ensure you get some fresh eyes (friends and family) to give the site a intensive test before you open it up to the general public. Testing is an absolute must for any pre-launch checklist.
Our clients get between 10% and 40% of their traffic from mobile devices, depending on the industry. Mobile usage is constantly growing, you probably use your mobile to browse the web too, so you’ll know the frustrations of bad design and crazy redirects that take you anywhere but the place you want to be. A well designed and implemented mobile site can be an impressive tool for your clients on the go.
Make it SEO Savvy
Last, but not least, make sure your website is optimised for search engines. If customers can’t find you on Google then you may as well have forgotten the rest. SEO is an evolving process requiring near constant on-site and off-site tweaking. But start with the basics: Good META tags, fresh content and a good selection of incoming links, and you’ll be well on your way.
We hope this list has given you lots to think about, and hopefully not created too much work for you to do! But remember, if you need a hand you can always give us call on 01543 414564 or use our handy contact form to get in touch. We’d be happy to help.