9 website must haves
9 things your website simply must be
A website is now, arguably, the most important introduction to a brand that potential customers have. Unfortunately, many businesses are making the same mistakes when it comes to their website and making a less than favourable first impression. Typically, today’s business buyer won’t contact a supplier directly until 57% of the purchase process is complete. In other words they do their research online, which means that your website is more important than ever to get on their shopping list.
Here are 9 things you can do to make simple, immediate improvements that will convert visitors into customers.
If a company’s website is the 21st century equivalent of a shop window, it stands to reason that good design is going to be an essential part of keeping a visitor’s attention. Avoid confusing visitors with a page crammed full of information and imagery. This is a perfect opportunity to follow the K.I.S.S principle of simplicity. We’ve already explored ways that you can get close to website perfection but at the very least, it should look good, with a clean design and layout, which makes it easy for visitors to find the information they need quickly.
On average, people will give a website 3 seconds to load before they give up on it. Once it does load, if it’s poorly designed or difficult to navigate they’ll give it even less of their time. Check for broken links on your site. Try and navigate it as a customer, is it easy to find the information that will be most important to them- how many clicks does it take to get there? Ensure that each page has a link to the main homepage and make it as easy as possible for people to enquire or buy by clearly displaying your contact information.
It’s all very well having a website that looks great when you view it on a PC monitor or laptop screen, but more and more people are now visiting websites on mobile devices. According to the Office for National Statistics, access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2013. How does your website look on a phone or tablet? Not every company will need a separate site designed specifically for mobile, it could be a responsive design that adapts depending on the device you’re viewing it on, but it is important to always give visitors a good experience.
Be in control
If you need to change the content on your site, would you know how to do it? With advances in CMS (Content Management Systems), many websites now have outdated “back-ends”, making it hard for business owners to make changes. Updating your CMS will give you more control over your site, ensuring that it’s always full of the most current information. With online metrics you can also pinpoint which parts of your website are the most effective and where improvements could be made. Without these analytical tools, businesses can’t see how they’re progressing online.
Why would any business go to all of the trouble of attracting people to their website and then give them no way to get in touch with them? Depending on which stats you can find about it, anywhere between 93% and 60% of business websites aren’t displaying clear contact information on their home pages. Many customers will visit a website solely to find this information, so make sure it’s visible.
Make sure that you’re telling people precisely what you want them to do and how they should do it by giving clear ‘calls-to-action’ on relevant pages. When you’ve convinced people that you’re the experts in your field they need to know what their next step should be. A specific contact form will also allow you to engage with your customers, making you aware of what they like and dislike about your site and how it could be improved.
If you’re on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network, make sure that your social media icons are clear on as many pages as possible, so that your site’s content can be liked, shared, pinned and tweeted. Likewise, make sure that your website is clearly displayed on your social media pages so that people can easily click through to it and check you out.
There’s no point having a website if people can’t find it. Keeping your content up-to-date and relevant not only improves your reputation to your customers but also to Google. When Google sees this it will improve your rankings on their search pages. Create a consistent content strategy for your website with a distinctive tone of voice. Write in short, concise sentences that focus on the essentials. Accompany this with keyword data, meta-descriptions and page titles that relate to the keywords you want to rank for, and you can begin to stand out in Google.
Be well informed
Many businesses set up their websites several years ago, so the employee, agency or freelancer who initially arranged the hosting of the site may not even be around today. You’d be surprised how few businesses know how to access their website or are even aware of who currently hosts it. Do you know? If you do, it’s hopefully a reliable, locally based host who can be on-hand to solve any issues swiftly and effectively if there’s a problem. While the design and content of your website are important, without a reliable host it could be that no-one is going to be able to see it!
Follow these 9 simple tips when you are designing your next website or improving your existing one, and you’ll find that they can make a big difference to the way that visitors perceive your business. More importantly, they will not only help attract more visitors to your site but also convert them into enquiries, leads and sales.
Written by Jyles Kerr-Smith, Online Manager