Every business should have a website. And actually most businesses know that and either have a website or have the intention of getting one.
But not all businesses realize that there is a big difference between a good website that converts visitors and one that doesn’t help the business.
Not all websites are easy to navigate and optimized properly to convert visitors.
So here are my 9 features every website needs!
1. Clear navigation menu
The navigation menu are the links usually at the top of a website where visitors can click on to reach another page or part of the website. This is where visitors of a website look first! Here they get an orientation of what is available on this website and where they can go after they have looked at the homepage.
Most websites choose to have a horizontal navigation menu at the top of the page because it is the easiest to read. But some websites also have their menu on the side of the website.
Either way, it has to be super easy to understand and navigate.
The recommendation is to have no more than 5 pages shown in your navigation menu to limit the choice of the visitor and not to overwhelm them but give them a clear guide where to click next.
And as people read from left to right, the page that is shown on the far right is the one that people will see the most and should contain your most important page where you want people to go. That is why you will find so many websites with the link to the contact page on the far right of the navigation.
2. Clear message
You have a few seconds (some people say 3 seconds, some say 8 seconds - but overall it is very short) to convince a visitor to stay on your site. So a visitor needs to find out immediately if the website will solve their problem or give an answer to their question.
That’s why your first message on your homepage needs to be super clear and concise. If you don’t convince your visitor that they will find what they are looking for within seconds they will leave.
Don't want to read? Watch my summary here ;-)
3. Obvious Contact page
You need to have an obvious contact page! The aim of a website is to convert, to sell, to get contacted. So once a visitor makes the decision to contact a business it needs to be as easy as possible for him or her to do so. Don’t make visitors search for your contact page!
Having said that if you are a business that does not require personal contact - an online shop for example - it is ok to have the contact page in a slightly less obvious place, for example in the footer navigation. This is to keep space for other important features but also to get your customers to use the website/shop the way you want them to and don’t send an email out of convenience.
You still need a contact page though in case your customers have questions. Because nothing is more frustrating when you want to buy and something doesn’t work and you can’t contact the supplier. That definitely turns customers away.
4. Clear call to actions
You need to guide your visitor through your website and make it as easy as possible for them to reach your desired final destination of your website. So tell your customers where to go! If you don’t tell your customer where to go next they will leave your site.
Have clear call to action buttons that keep the customer wanting to learn more and click on.
These buttons need to be easy to see and read and their descriptions short and punchy.
And I have learned once that there can not be too many call to actions. If you tell someone something over and over again people will believe it. So tell them to contact you over and over again and they will eventually.
However as I also love a minimal and clean design I think there needs to be balance. Don’t misunderstand this and over clutter your website :-)
5. Cohesive Branding/Images
Although I am a designer I would not put this on top of my list but it is definitely on the list! A website needs to look pretty and cohesive. You should have a logo or a clear name on every page and you need to decide on colors and fonts for your website. Choose about 3-4 colors and 2 to maximum 3 fonts to use on your website and then stay consistent and use the same on every page.
And the same applies to the images and tone of voice you use. Keep it all in line with the rest of your brand and repeat it on your website and across all points of contact with your customers.
Don’t underestimate the power of images and tone! You can convince visitors easily by using great and matching images and copy on your website.
I will write more about this in a different blog post :-)
6. Fast loading speed
As I said above you have a few seconds to convince a visitor to stay on your site. And nothing is more frustrating than wanting to visit a site but it is not loading. Visitors are bound to click away and move their attention to something else.
You can achieve this by choosing a good hosting provider but mainly by keeping the size of your images small!
7. Mobile optimisation
People are using their mobile devices to surf the web more and more. So even though everyone seems to know this not every website is optimized for mobile devices and you need to make sure yours is!
8. Email list sign up
Having an email list is emphasized everywhere as the best way to stay in touch with your customers or fans. I don’t want to go deeply into why it is so important other than telling you that email still shows the highest conversion rates. You own your email list and website whereas you don’t own social media. And most people check their emails every day and not social media.
Anyway, a website should clearly give the option for signing up to an email list. Either by offering a free ‘gift’ which the visitor will get once they signed up to your email list or for example by having a pop up window.
Find out more here why having an email list is so important from Melyssa Griffin.
9. Social Media links
Being on social media in some form or another is a must as a business these days. So link all your online presences together and tell your customers where else they can find you. If a customer does not want to buy from you immediately but wants to follow you along for a while, this is a good place to send them.
However saying that you want to keep your customers ON your website and you don't want to send them away from you! Therefor I would only have your social media links in the footer area and not super visible all over your site, like having a big section about your latest Facebook Feed etc. It is also good to have them on your blog page so that your customers know where they can stay informed about new posts.
I hope this was helpful in understanding what is important for a website!
So your homework is now to go and check your website if it has all these 9 features every website needs :-)
Let me know if you have any questions!
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