You should build your website so that it stands apart from the crowd. If you’re taking your business’ online presence seriously, you need to steer clear from the things all the other websites in your industry are doing. Or, at the very least, you should find out what they’re doing and then do it better. In that case, you’re aiming at being the leader of the pack, the one business that stands out by always being in the front.
But the thing with websites is that, no matter how much you want to be different than the others, you’ll inevitably have to employ some of the same solutions. Some areas support variety better than others. In the areas that don’t, you should have to stick to best practices.
There’s nothing wrong with doing things that work just because they work, but this is different. There are some things on your website where we know what works and what doesn’t, but there are also areas where experimenting can cost you lots of visits and conversions until you get everything right. So here are the seven things your website definitely needs, and you don’t need to experiment with them.
Visible Contact Information
Let’s start with something that’s so obvious people think they’ve taken care of it even if they haven’t – contact information. Your customers should be able to get in touch with your business, and a website is a perfect place where you can let them know of all the ways they can do it.
Besides having a “contact us” page with an email address or a contact form, you should strongly consider including other contact information. You might even put some of it on the front page. Information such as a physical address and a real phone number is a strong signal that your business actually exists in the real world. You can never have enough of these trust signals on your website.
A website can’t be all images, no matter how often you hear that visuals are important. There need to be words on your website – not too many of them, but enough to let people know where they are, and what they can get there. This is another obviously important thing people tend to overlook.
There are three things copy needs to tell your website visitors in the first couple of seconds of looking at your website. The first one is who you are. The second one is what problem you can solve for your customers. The third is why they should buy from you. Three things, a couple of seconds, and a couple of dozens of words.
A Call to Action
Websites have purposes. The very fact your business has a website will make your website appear more legit, but proof of existence is one of the weakest reasons to build a website. If you make them well, websites are conversion machines. Give them a purpose, something you want the visitors to do.
It can be anything from buying your products to subscribing to your mailing list – it doesn’t matter. If there’s something you want, you need to ask for it. The way you do it on a website is by including a call to action on it. You can do it on the front page even, and place it in a brightly-colored button.
Good, Logical Navigation
In video games, old castles with a huge gardening staff, and myths and legends, mazes can be fun and exciting. For the people who just want to get from point A to point B, a complicated road with too many dead ends isn’t just frustrating. It’s a reason to skip going to point A if there’s a point C with a nice path leading from it to point B.
Don’t let your website become point A. Be point C to your competitors’ point As. Make sure your website visitors can get anywhere on your website easily. Give them enough navigation options to ensure they’ll always be to find what they’re looking with only a couple of clicks.
Testimonials have been around for a long, long time. They’ve been used as a sales and marketing tool before we started using the internet as a sales channel. Even today, television commercials are full of them.
Your website could use them, too, because they are a powerful trust signal. They are what’s called social proof, and long story short, they can help increase your website’s conversion rates. For best results, get real testimonials from real customers – you don’t’ want to get caught posting fake testimonials online.
How do you think people are browsing the internet today? Because the days when it was mostly from desktop computers with big screens and keyboards and mouses, you’re wrong. People are browsing the web from mobile devices, and your website better be ready for that.
By being ready, of course, you should mean the largest possible degree of mobile-friendliness. Your website needs to display well on small screens. But don’t forget that people should be able to navigate it the way the internet is navigated on smartphones – by using thumbs.
None of this matters if your website isn’t online most of the time, though. Or if it’s so slow people are having time to shop on your competitors’ websites while yours is still loading. Or if it lacks even the basic features.
Your choice of hosting providers will make or break your website. You need good uptime, fast servers, good hosting options, and good security infrastructure. It wouldn’t hurt if the provider had a deal for an SSL certificate. At the very least, you should use a website host that makes your website better, not one that’s hindering its success.