10 Essential Elements Of A Great Website

10 Essentiële Elementen Van Een Goede Website - Webdesign Mechelen
“Websites promote your brand 24/7: No employee will ever do that for you. It works continuously for you whilst you sleep!”  

Your website is in our modern world usually the first impression your client gets of your organization. To make the best out of this moment, it's very important to provide all the necessary information your visitors are looking for!

However, many websites I come across forget many (simple?) details, making them lose out on potential clients. 

In this article I am going to do a brief summary of the 10 most important elements which should be present on your website and why. I also am going to give some tips on how you can address these. 

Let's go! 

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1) A Fast Loading Speed


People in our current society have an "information overload"

Think about advertisements, video's, 9Gag, YouTube and different social media channels who all combat for our attention.

The information-influx is enormous.

The easiest way - then - to navigate this gigantic pile of information is to simply ignore most of it.

And that's exactly what most do.

The average attention-span of a person is incredibly short these days and that's exactly why you can't let them wait. 

Research shows that when your webpage loads slower than 4 seconds, you lose (on average) 25% of potential clients.(1)

Therefore, every second you can cut from your loading time can potentially lead to extra customers. 

How can you do this?

  • Measure your current website speed here.
  • If you have a wordpress site and you're able to tweak it a little bit, this video might help you well on your way.
  • Do you have a website built on another framework? Then you can always check the recommended adjustments under "performance insights" at the bottom of the test! (see image)


2) Great SEO


With SEO (search engine optimization), we mean how easy it is for search engines like Google to; 

  1. Find your website
  2. Understand what it is about

Now, why is this important?

Simple! Google uses this information to show your pages to people searching for your products or services! If - however - your webpages are poorly made (or unclear), you'll be far more likely to rank at the bottom of Google and therefore miss out on potential clients!

Imagine you've recently started a bike-shop in New York. Then it would be great if your website would pop up as the first result in Google. Don't you agree?

By optimizing your SEO you'll be able to rank a lot higher! And ranking higher automatically means more customers!

"Now, is it really that important to rank so high?"

Yes!

Because, the first three links in Google get about 65% of the natural search-volume (clicks)! That's 34%, 19% and 12% for the first three links respectively! (2)

Webdesign Mechelen | SEO 3

The higher you rank, the more people will click on your website basically. And by quite a significant margin!

How can you do this?

There's two main ways you can improve this; onsite/internal SEO and offsite/external SEO

2.1) Onsite SEO


The first can be improved by making your website more clear and "readable" for Google. You can do this by supplying your pages with keywords, using a clear meta-description for each page and also having a clear link structure (among others).

For example;

  • www.website.com/article-about-health
  • www.website.com/2016/08/03/aspx?article%20about%20health

Here are some more tips;

Webdesign Mechelen | SEO 2


2.2) Offsite SEO

The second part is a bit more challenging (but also a more important ranking factor). This is basically determined by the authority of your website, or basically how relevant Google thinks your website is. This is mainly determined by the amount of incoming links (also called backlinks).

This means, if other websites link to your site (through an article for example), they signal Google saying; "Hey this content is pretty interesting!". Google then uses this information to see how different websites "stack up" against each other.

Off-course, not every backlink is weighed the same. Websites who have a high authority themselves carry more "link-weight" and influence your ranking more. So getting a link from a news-website like The Times, ABCnews, CNN an so-forth, will influence your rankings more significantly than your social media accounts

Note: Since Google doesn't give the public 100% insight into how they exactly rank websites, most of the literature on this is our "best educated guess".

Here's some things you can do;

  • Make social media pages with backlinks to your website (and write articles on it, which get shared).
  • Make a company page on LinkedIn and point it at your website.
  • Make a company page on Google Maps and point it at your site.
  • Subscribe to directory sites like the yellow pages (and others).
  • Publicize articles on sites with more authority and have a backlink in the bio (also called 'guest-posting').

3) A Mobile Version


About 50% of all Google-searches are coming from mobile devices (tablet or smartphones) since the end of 2014. This is an incredible number and probably will rise more the coming years!

"In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan. This presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to reach people throughout all the new touch-points of a consumer’s path to purchase." (3)
- Google Adwords

Your visitors are very inclined to close a website that's not optimized for mobile devices (think about how you judge websites when browsing on your phone.) 

That's why it's important to show an adjusted version of your website to mobile users. Otherwise you could potentially lose out on over half of your potential clients.

How can you do this?

  • You can check here if your website has a mobile-friendly design.
  • If you're running a WordPress-based website, it's a great idea to get a mobile-friendly theme. (Most are these days, but it never hurts to check.)
  • If you're running a website based on another framework, I'd recommend to call in a developer for this (since optimization for mobile devices can become rather complex). If - however - you're up for the challenge, I suggest starting here.

4) Clear Info About Your Product Or Service

Don't make your users search endlessly for information about your products and services.

When somebody visits your company site, they're usually searching for a description of your products and services, your working process or otherwise the benefits they can derive from working with you.

So, it seems logical to include a clear overview of these in your website, right?

Despite this, I daily see websites where this information is hard to find or even absent from their company site!

The easier it is for your visitors to visualize exactly what you're offering, the better!

How can you do this?

  • Provide your website with some detailed pages of your services and products. Let someone outside of your industry read it, to see if it's understandable to a layman.
  • Add pictures to visualize your offer (Don't underestimate this).

5) Detailed Contact Information


Your contact information can lead directly to a new customer, so don't hide this in some obscure spot on your website but always make it plainly available in sight.

Also: Be as detailed as possible! Give your customers multiple ways of contacting you, so you can keep the barrier to contact as low as possible!

Here's a few key elements you should include;

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your telephone number
  • Your email
  • Your social media accounts 
  • A contact form

6) No Unnecessary Distractions


Furthermore, it is recommended to keep your site as simplistic as possible.

If you want your visitors to focus on what is really important, you should make sure not to distract them with useless things like sidebars, pop-ups that occupy the entire screen or otherwise a chaotic layout of your website.

If your visitors do not immediately understand your site, they will not hesitate to close the window.

The purpose of a website is ultimately to inform the user of your services, give them access to your contact information and to help them make an informed decision. 

Ensure that this can happen effortlessly.

A modern trend here is to use a "One-Page" design where all critical information is displayed on the main page instead of the user having to click through to individual pages.

Designs like this and this one are included among those for example.

Many people do not have the patience to read a whole page, let alone browse a full site and therefore just scroll/skim over the content to get a quick overview. Therefore it is a good idea to just provide the key information bundled on your homepage!

How can you do this?

  • Make the life of your user easier by setting up a minimalist site without too many bells and whistles.
  • If you have a WordPress website, it is recommended to choose a theme that shows the most essential information on the first page. Here you can find an extensive overview. 
  • No annoying/shaking full-screen pop-ups. The best way to tackle the design is to ask yourself; "What kind of site would I like to read/follow?"

7) A FAQ


People usually have further questions about your products and services;

  • Do I get a money back guarantee? For how long is it valid?
  • Can I take this supplement with medication x?
  • How much will the cost be with the addition of option y?

Try to anticipate these questions in advance (or regularly update them) using a list of frequently asked questions which guides your users through some common problems. In this way, you create a win-win situation!

On the one hand you can spend more time on what really matters; namely the development of your business and on the other hand, your user can simply retrieve the information they need!

Here's an example of what that looks like;

Webdesign Mechelen | FAQ

8) A Mailing List


"The power is in the list"

A mailing list is also one of the elements that are often neglected on company websites, although a mailing list is probably one of the best ways to stay in touch with your clients, even after your collaboration ended.

This is ideal to keep the relationship with your client going, to update them of new developments within the organization and also to present yourself as an expert in your industry. These are all elements that you can use to build your brand!

In addition, an email list is also a good medium to increase engagement on your website

When users subscribe to your email list, you usually have a (higher) assurance that they will actually read it. Through social media, your posts mostly just "blend into the masses" by the continous amount of information that's flushing through their news feed.

Given that it is increasingly difficult to attract the attention of potential clients, a mailing list is a powerful (and indispensable) weapon in your marketing!

Of course you should keep in mind that no one like spam, if you betray their trust (even once)  they'll remove you immediately and irrevocably out of their inbox. 

If - however - you can show them that you respect their time/attention and that you effectively send them useful information, they will eventually trust you and allow you to send them information!

How can you do this?

  • Add a form to your website where your users can sign up for your emaillist! 
  • Create relevant articles that your visitors can apply to his/her life!

9) Testimonials


Testimonials are simply the best way to convince potential visitors who are still doubting! The greatest portfolio of a company is simply how the previous customers have experienced the cooperation with the organization! If you have a good "track record" of successful projects, business will come naturally!

Think of how you choose products or services when you're still doubting

  • If you buy a book, you first look at the reviews before you make the purchase.
  • If you want to see a movie, you see the reviews or ask someone you know for a movie recommendation.

The same applies for any other choice! People learn A LOT by observing the behavior of others and are strongly influenced by it.

How can you do this?

  • The best way to implement this, is to give a detailed outline of the situation in which the doubting visitor finds himself in. Put yourself in his/her shoes and ask yourself, "What is important to him/her". Show that previous customers had similar doubts, but nevertheless have made ​​the move and do not regret their purchase decision. 

10) A Personal Touch


People do not do business with a website. People do business with other humans.

A personal touch can make sure that you stand out from the rest but also just "humanize" the contact with your clients.

By adding a mascot, a personal business video, an "about us" page, some humor or even a custom error page,  you can make your business stand out from the crowd!

Some good examples include the company "Viget" who have made a game to help the user pronounce the name of the organization (definitely worth watching!)

Webdesign Mechelen | Game 
On the other hand, you also have the custom error page of the company  "Bluegg" giving you the choice to go back to the main page or listen to a goat "scream like a human". Easy choice ;)

Webdesign Mechelen | Goat 404


A small gift, a funny picture or an interesting insight can do wonders to build the relationship with your visitors!


Essence


There you have it! Building a good website isn't as difficult as it seems.

With some minor adjustments you can improve your site a lot! Use the tips and tricks outlined in this article to catapult your user experience and web-image to the top! 

Provide it with;

- A Fast Loading Time
- Great SEO
- A Beautiful Mobile Version
- Detailed Information About Your Product Or Service
- Extensive Contact Information
- No Distractions
- A FAQ
- A Mailing List
- Testimonials
- A Personal Touch 

That's all it takes! 

See you soon,

- Simon

References

  1. http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/your-website-design-should-load-in-4-seconds/
  2. https://www.advancedwebranking.com/ctrstudy/
  3. https://adwords.googleblog.com/2015/05/building-for-next-moment.html
  4. https://moz.com/blog/google-organic-click-through-rates-in-2014
  5. Simons' head

Questions/Suggestions?

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