10 ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF SUCCESSFUL WEBSITES
Hello again! So, as the title suggests, today I want to chat to you all about websites – and most importantly how to make yours a successful website. First of all, every business needs one. Yes, platforms like Facebook can be really helpful but it’s still so important to have that destination of your own. The way the algorithms keep changing, you simply can’t rely on social media alone! We’ve all know what that’s like so I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted and you already have or are intending to get a website up and running. HOWEVER, just having a site alone is not enough. Many websites out there can actually have a negative effect on the business. Why I hear you ask? Because if they’re not easy to navigate or optimized properly they won’t convert ideal clients into customers. I’m sure we’ve all closed a site or been put off using it because it’s hard to interact with. Just like your brand, the user experience is so, so, so key.
So how do you get it right? Well, here are my 10 essential features of successful websites to help you get yours on track and start making it happen.
#1 – DEFINE YOUR MESSAGE
This is such an important theme of branding, which of course your website comes under. The amount of time people spend on websites is dropping all the time, giving you a super short window to convince them to stay and have a look around. So your message needs to be on point. This is a great time to put your mission statement to use. What do you do. Who do you do it for. And how do you do it. By answering these questions you’ll give visitors a clear idea that you can deliver what they’re looking for. And even better, if the message is consistent with the post or newsletter that brought them there, the more likely they are to like and trust you and your brand. Which is the goal, right?
#2 – MAKE IT SIMPLE
It sounds obvious but it’s absolutely crucial. Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice user experience and navigation for a beautiful design. It’s all about balance. Because if people can’t find their way around quickly and easily it doesn’t matter how amazing your website looks – they simply won’t stay long enough to find out. One of the fastest ways to do this is with your navigation menu. Make sure it’s accessible and easy to engage with as it’s often where visitors look first. It’s also good to consider the fact that many web developers recommend having no more than 5 pages in your navigation menu. You can also build pages and click throughs on to them but keeping that main menu simple is less daunting for a user. Too much choice can overwhelm visitors and put them off but the right balance will give them a clear guide of where to click next.
#3 – CONSISTENCY IS EVERYTHING
I’ve said this time and time again, but it’s so important I’m going to repeat myself once more…consistency is crucial. Your branding designer should work with you to make sure everything fits your brand mission statement – from the colours you choose to the images you use and the fonts that get your message across. For your ideal clients, arriving at your website is one of the final stages of their user experience journey. You’ve hooked them in with a social post, or a live video, or a newsletter and now you need to convince them to like and trust you. So if your website fits with everything else they’ve seen so far, you should be onto a winner.
#4 – GO MOBILE
If you’re anything like me and use social media channels like Instagram and Facebook as key platforms to share your brand message and drive traffic, then this point is absolutely essential. Mobile browsing is more popular than ever, and it’s only going to rise from here, so you really need to get on this. It’s a common mistake and something which people often de-prioritize as they see their beautiful new website on their desktop browser and think that’s enough. But in today’s world it just simply isn’t, so make sure your site is optimized from the word go, and you’ll avoid losing clients who click through from social.
#5 – BE SOCIAL
This is an absolute must for any business in the modern age. We all know how important social media is, not only to keep people informed of what you’re up to, but also to drive your ideal client to your website. Just as your branding needs to link together and be consistent, so do your online channels. Make sure visitors can access them, so they know where to find out more about what you do and who you are. However, you don’t want to drive them away from your site straight away so it’s best to keep them in the footer section of your website. You can still give people a taste with a live Instagram feeds, which can have a real impact – especially if you have a curated and on-brand channel (I hope you do!). I’d also add Blogs into this point too. It’s not strictly social media, but it’s another way to share your opinions and build a rapport with your audience, not to mention boost your Google SEO…which I’ll come onto next.
#6 – SEO
Not the most visible or design focused feature of this blog – but definitely one of THE most important of all. This is so key to increasing traffic and boosting your website’s success. It all runs in the background, through the words you use – make sure all your copy is SEO optimized – and the way you tag your images. Picking the right keywords is critical, so work with your branding designer and web developer to ensure that’s happening. Your mission statement should also play a critical role here. Finding and carving out your niche will really boost your rating on Google, meaning more people see you, more people will stop by, and most importantly more people will buy.
#7 – SIGN UP, SIGN UP
Yep, you guessed it, this point is allllll about your mailing list. It’s the best way to build a community around your brand and stay in touch with your ideal clients – bar none. It’s your way of targeting your message directly at your clients, which is especially important with social media platforms continuously altering their algorithms. Your website provides the perfect platform to capture their data, so work with your branding designer to ensure a sign up feature is clearly visible on your website – the more contacts you have the more people will know all about you and the amazing things you do.
#8 – DON’T HANG AROUND
As with your mission statement, you don’t have much time to convince people why they should stay on your site – so fast loading speeds are essential. And we’ve all been there, there’s nothing more frustrating than a site that doesn’t load. You need to act fast and grab their attention before something else does, so make sure your branding designer and web developer are delivering this for you.
#9 – CONTACT, CONTACT, CONTACT
Another one that sounds so simple but having an obvious contact page is an absolute must. If you don’t, then what’s the point? You want to engage people with your message and then turn ideal clients into ideal customers. And more often than not, when they decide to contact you, you’ve almost done it. So don’t make them go on a wild goose chase for your details, make sure you’re easy to reach whether they’re looking to purchase immediately or have questions about who you are and what you do.
#10 – CLEAR CTAS
Sometimes you just have to tell people where to go! No, not like that. I’m talking about call to actions. Now these are so important and serve as a guide for your site visitors. It’s not just about having them though, you need to keep your customer wanting to learn more and progress through your site. Your branding copywriter should be well aware of this and include CTA buttons throughout your website. If you decide to develop your copy yourself, it’s definitely something to have at the front of your mind. Keep the descriptions short and punchy, for example they can be as simple as ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Find out more’ or ‘Get the lowdown’ but they should always encourage people to discover something new. Work with your designer and web developer to create the right balance though, too many call to actions can clutter some designs, and put people off who don’t want to feel like they’re constantly jumping through hoops.
So there you have it, my top 10 essential features of successful websites. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it’s got you all inspired to think differently about your own site.