Once upon a time, a business website was just a small part of a company’s identity. It showed that your business was modern and kept up with changing times, but it didn’t factor too heavily into your regular business operations. Yet nowadays we live in an always-online world, and for the most part, if you don’t have a business website, you don’t have a business.
Just as the importance of having a business website has changed, so too has what a good business website looks like. It isn’t enough to have an online presence: you need to create one that meets customer’s needs and expectations, and failure to do so could mean the difference between making a sale or losing one. If you are looking to build a company website or just want to improve upon the one you have, consider these ten things that every business website needs to be successful.
Before anything else, the first thing that someone is likely to notice about your website is your layout. Your number one priority when choosing a layout for your website is readability, so it is best to keep it fairly simple. Most modern websites have a two-column layout, with one column having the main content while the other one has extra features and navigation functions.
Pretty much any website is made up of several different parts, so it is important to have navigation options that make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they are looking for. Your navigation should be completely straight forward and easy to read, with all pertinent information able to be found in as few clicks as possible. This includes both the main content of the site as well as contact information.
Arguably the most important thing for your website to have is value, specifically something of value to your audience. To put it plainly: if your website doesn’t offer anything of value to your audience, they are going to leave. What the value-driver is will vary based on your business and your areas of interest, from informative blog posts to free online resources, but no one is going to stick around if your website is just a sale pitch.
4. Lead Generation
One of the biggest reasons to have a website is that is an opportunity to collect leads. However, this is harder to do than ever before, because people are far more hesitant to give out their personal information these days. The only way to get emails and generate leads to offer people something of value for sharing it with you (i.e., an exclusive video, an eBook, a discount, etc.).
5. Money Generation
One of the best parts about being an entrepreneur are those moments where you wake up and find out you have money in your bank account. Your website can help make this happen by simply including ways for people to pay you. This can include an online store/eCommerce page or simply by having a “Buy Now” button on certain products or services. However you decide to approach it, the important thing is to not just your products and services, but to give customers an opportunity to buy them.
In order to be successful online, you need to consider the importance of keywords or search engine optimization (SEO). Unless they are already aware of your business, the way most people are going to find your website is by searching for something on Google or another search engine. The way to ensure that your website shows up higher in the listings in by including relevant keywords that people are likely to search for. Be aware that you need to include them strategically however: search engines tend to exclude websites that just keywords around without context, so find ways to weave relevant keywords into the natural text of your website.
In the modern internet age, your website needs to have media. This can include a number of different things, from photos and videos from recent events to plug-ins that can lead visitors to your social media pages. It is a good way to keep your website visually interesting and showcase what you and your business has been up to. Keep one thing in mind though: make that the way you implement media isn’t invasive. People tend to dislike websites that have audio or video that plays automatically, so avoid doing this in on your site.
Any entrepreneur can tell you that they are good at what they do, but hearing a third party endorse that claim goes a long way towards establishing their expertise. As such, you should always find a way to include testimonials from past customers somewhere on your website. Some businesses will have a separate section on their website for testimonials, while others will find a way to sprinkle them across their site. Regardless of how you do it, having testimonials is a must.
9. Mobile Friendly
It is currently estimated that 72.6% of internet users will access the web solely through smartphones and mobile devices by 2025. As such, mobile-friendliness cannot be an afterthought when designing a business website. Certain design and formatting choices might look great on a computer, but will look terrible or run slowly on a smartphone. When building a company website, design it with the mindset that a smartphone will be the default device that people will be accessing it from. This eliminates the frustration that comes with designing a non-mobile-friendly website and having to make changes down the line.
10. Call to Action
If you managed to get a customer to your website, they are already at least somewhat interested in you and your business. Additionally, whether they admit or not, people like to be told what to do. So before someone leaves your website, you should include a message that tells visitors what to do next. What that “next step” is can vary, but whether you are asking them to sign-up for your newsletter or encouraging them to follow you on social media, you should be giving them some kind of instructions before they leave.
Building a high-quality website takes time and effort, even for someone with a background in web design, and for the less design-savvy among us it can be a challenge. Despite this, the rewards that come with having a good business website are plentiful, and as long you remember these ten important elements for a successful website, you have a set of solid guiding principles for building a website that works for you.