With so many entrepreneurs working from home in today’s generation, many businesses are turning to the great World Wide Web as their “storefront.” However, there are a few key elements that every website must have in order to be successful. These must haves are key for creating an effective storefront that generates business and drives sales. Most importantly, they allow your website to be appealing to users, loyal readers, and potential clients and increase your chance of return visitors.
A website is nothing without great design, and bonus points to you if your website is mobile-friendly or responsive! When you get new visitors to your site, the first thing that they’ll evaluate is the design. If your website is poorly designed, they’ll move right on to another website without thinking twice. That’s a big shame because who’s to say your website isn’t full of the best, most effective content that’s sure to close every deal? Your site needs to grab visitors’ attention and keep them engaged with a simple, easy to follow design that is unique.
As cute as “kudos” or “high fives” may sound, you have to remember simplicity is imperative for your website’s navigation. Something may sound like a great alternative to “testimonials” or “portfolio” to you, but that doesn’t mean that every single person who visits your site will understand what you’re trying to say. If someone visits your website and is looking for your portfolio but can’t find it because it’s under “the bomb” or some other phrase, it’s very likely that they will quickly get frustrated and leave. Users like simplicity. They appreciate a straightforward navigation that makes it easy to find exactly what they’re looking for. If you don’t have any happy users, you probably won’t generate much business either.
Once you start getting visitors to your website, they’ll hopefully be impressed by your design and content. You want to provide an easy way for these engaged users to contact you, whether for a business inquiry or a compliment from an admirer of your work. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated contact page that is easily accessible- usually the last link in a site’s navigation. Contact forms have become very popular, and they’re a great way to get a little information from your inquirers. Additionally, you should have either your phone number or email (or both!) in your header or footer on every single page of your website. If you have a contact form, some people may not want to take the time filling it out, so leave an alternative method of contacting you (i.e. directly via phone or email). The more options you provide, the more messages and inquiries you’ll receive.
What good is a website without images? Every page of your website should have beautiful imagery that matches your business’s style and industry. The images should hint at what exactly it is that you do, and they should complement your content. Providing graphics along with text is a great way to make your website an easier read. This is especially true for blog posts- vivid imagery is an absolute must (even if it’s just one header photo). Fact is, imagery provides more chances for you to grab prospective clients’ attention, and it makes your website design look more sophisticated and professional. By including photos on your website, you’ll be able to further establish your business’s style and voice, which will allow your site visitors to get a better idea of exactly who and what your business is.
Before launching your website, you should have a very clear idea of who exactly your dream clientele is. Your number one priority should be to write content driven directly to your niche. By appealing to a small group of people, funny enough you will have a much greater chance of succeeding. I’ve heard it often before, and it seems to be true: if you try to attract everyone, you’ll end up attracting no one. Because almost every industry is so competitive today with the growing number of entrepreneurs, it will benefit you tremendously to find a common ground with a specific group of people and try to attract people from that group to work with. For example, my graphic design career began during an event planning internship. During that time, I became a certified event planner and planned a number of weddings. I learned a lot about the industry, and therefore have a good idea of just what it takes to make businesses in the events industry stand out and succeed. For this reason, many of my clients are from the events industry. However, this does not mean that I only exclusively work with businesses from that field. Just because you are targeting one specific niche, that does not mean you can only work with those people and have to turn everyone else away.
You should use your website as a marketing avenue by clearly displaying icons to each of your social accounts. The more places you include your social icons, the more traffic you will generate to your accounts, and vice versa to your site. Additionally, if you have a blog, you should have social sharing buttons at the bottom of every post to encourage readers to share your content. The more people you are able to reach, the bigger your following will become, and the more business opportunities you will create. A great way to create these opportunities is to use e-mail marketing via an e-mail newsletter. Whether weekly, monthly, or another time frame, sending out a periodic newsletter can do wonders for your business, so it is imperative you have a sign up form for your newsletter to grow your list of subscribers. A great way to provide incentive for subscribing is by offering a freebie or exclusive blog post in a quick pop up when a new visitor comes to your website.
Without including testimonials on your website, you’re just a business without any credibility. It’s likely no one will work with you because you’ll come off as a nobody. A lot of business is based off of referrals, and a great alternative to word of mouth marketing is including testimonials of past happy clients on your website for prospects to read. Include the review, the reviewer’s name, and the reviewer’s company; that way, website visitors can do a little research on your reviewers to verify their credibility. Regardless, including a handful of strong testimonials from past clients who were very pleased with your work and their experience can go a long way and help you gain new clients.
Let your site visitors know who you are. How did you get started in your industry? Why did you start your business? Having a great about page is your opportunity to try and connect with potential clients and loyal followers. People are weary to do business with a company that they know nothing about. Even if you have the most basic information on a short and sweet about page, it’s a good way to make your visitors feel comfortable and relate to you and your company. If you need any help with writing an effective about page, you can read one of my past posts with a downloadable questionnaire and key elements to think about.
Is there anything you think should be added to this list? What item do you think is the most important must have for any website?