The 10 most important things a good website needs
In today’s increasingly online and digital world, it is absolutely essential for any business worth its salt to have a good website. But what exactly makes a good website? What does a business need to include in its website to make it successful? Well, the short answer is ‘a lot’ – a lot goes into making a successful website, and here we outline 10 of the most important things your website needs.
1) Good content
There is a myriad factors that contribute to whether a website’s content can be considered good. Good content goes beyond just the quality of writing or aesthetics – let’s have a look at some principles to which your website needs to adhere in order to be successful:
- Professionalism and readability – your website needs to look professional in order to gain the trust of site visitors. It’s best to steer clear of gimmicky fonts like Comic Sans or Joker, for example. Also, make sure the layout of your content is clean and simple (we touch on this a bit more in #3 and #4).
- Regular uploads – a good website is updated regularly with new and fresh content. This is best done through the use of blogs (see #9).
- Highlight the USP – it is essential that your website describes and emphasises the features and benefits of your business’s offering.
- Video – studies have shown that people absorb information more easily via audio and video than reading large amounts of text. So, it’s a good idea to have a short video introducing your brand to site visitors.
- Photographs – whether your website has a video or not, good quality images are absolutely vital for keeping site visitors interested in and engaged with your website and its content.
- Testimonials – if a visitor to your website is completely unfamiliar with your brand, testimonials are essential for fostering and growing a potential customer’s trust in your business.
- Call to action – it’s all good and well to follow the above guidelines, but without an effective call to action, it’s going to be a lot harder to convert a random website visitor into a customer or client.
2) Competitor differentiation
It’s very rare to find a business that has complete monopoly over its particular market or industry, and that’s why it’s essential that your website differentiate your brand from that of your competitors. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Industry knowledge – use your years of experience and expertise within your particular field to set you apart from your competition. Also, customers tend to lean towards businesses that have been around for a long time.
- Industry accreditation and certificates of compliance – if your business exists within a market that requires some sort of accreditation or certification in order to operate (and you have it) use this to your advantage. Customers are inclined to make use of businesses that have been validated by some sort of authority. This includes a BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) certificate if your business is based in the Republic of South Africa.
- Competitive advantage – explain to potential customers in no uncertain terms why you are superior to competitors in your industry or market.
3) Basic SEO
If you’re wanting to do some unpaid marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) is the way to go. If you’d like your website to show in search results when internet users search for your brand’s offering, there are a couple of SEO principles to which your website should adhere:
- Submit your site to search engines – this is quite self-explanatory, because how else will your website show on a search engine’s results if it doesn’t know your website exists?
- Have an XML sitemap – this helps search engines crawl your website (crawling is when a search engine scans your website’s content when generating search results)
- Use tags – these are what appear above or below your business’s URL on a search result. It’s also important to include meta description tags, which are the several lines of information about the web page that appear under the title tag.
- Structure your website – we touched on this a bit earlier. A good site structure is essential not only for readability, but also for SEO. Good use of headings and subheadings help search engines crawl and index your site.
- Include relevant keywords – this goes without saying, really. Include the keywords for which you want to rank highly throughout your website’s content (including your business name, if that’s what you’d like to rank for), including in those headings we mentioned previously.
- Insert links to other websites – link-building helps improve search engine results and helps your business appear valuable and credible. Conversely, list your business in as many online directories as possible so that your site has both outbound and inbound links.
4) Easy navigation
This aspect also goes back to what we’ve mentioned about good site structure. An easily navigable website is essential for keeping site visitors on your site. When a site is difficult to navigate, visitors will become frustrated and leave your website, increasing bounce rates exponentially.
- Hierarchical URLs – make sure that as your website’s visitors navigate from section to section, the URLs make sense. For example, if a visitor goes from ‘Products’ to ‘For Women’ and then ‘Shoes’, each URL needs to build on the previous one. The last URL here, in this example, would look something like brand.com/products/for-women/shoes.
- Easily accessible contact details – ensure that your contact details are easy to spot and access, regardless of where a visitor is on your website. Spending five minutes trying to find an email address is a sure-fire way to irritate visitors to the point of leaving your website completely.
5) Fast loading speed
Like a poorly structured website, nothing drives away a website visitor more quickly than a web page that takes ages to load. Ensuring that your web pages’ loading speed is fast an essential component in designing a good and successful website. There are multiple tech-intensive ways to do this – check out this link: https://moz.com/learn/seo/page-speed
6) Mobile-friendly design
Over 40% of internet browsing takes place on smartphones, so it’s absolutely vital that your website is mobile-friendly. Like poor site structure and slow page loading speeds, website visitors are very easily put-off by a website that can be browsed perfectly on desktop, but not at all on mobile. Ensuring that your website is mobile friendly is essential for maintaining a competitive edge!
8) Private domain name
Having a private domain name (i.e. a site that, although built with WordPress, does not include ‘WordPress’ in its name or URL) makes your business more credible. Further, registering your domain as private enhances your website’s security.
Blog posts are useful for a number of reasons. Remember we mentioned that it’s important to post new content regularly? Blogs are a great way to do that. They show that your business is active, and can serve to educate, inform and entertain customers, both current and potential. Make sure these blogs are shareable (i.e. that they can be shared on social media) as this helps digital word-of-mouth. On that note – make sure it’s easy for site visitors to clickthrough to your various social media accounts/platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc).
10) Information capture
A good website has a way in which to get site visitors’ information from them (with their consent, of course). This includes sign-ups for newsletters, email submission forms and the like. This helps the site visitor feel that they are connected with your business, and it allows you to stay in contact with them – continuous engagement with customers, both current and prospective, is essential.
So, as you can see, there are a bunch of factors which contribute to a website’s success. This may seem daunting at first, but if you follow these guidelines when setting up and maintaining your website, over time, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your hard work and see your business’s website succeed!