Whether you’re in the start-up phase, looking for the right design for a new website or are an established business ready to make a few changes, you’re probably doing a lot of research.
Spending time checking out the websites of your competitors, searching for layouts and templates or even working with an experienced designer are all great places to start.
However, sometimes business owners get so caught up in the bigger picture that they overlook smaller, common elements of a webpage that are integral to making it a success.
To make your website work for you, focusing on the must-haves is important.
Check out the 10 elements that your website absolutely must have to be effective.
1. A Headline That Draws Attention
Once a visitor comes to your website, you need something that will grab their attention, something that will say, “Hey, you’ve come to the right place!”.
A headline will help decide whether a visitor will stay to learn more or if they’ll move on.
The best headlines should focus on how your company or brand meets the needs of your customers in a short, three- to eight-word summary.
A subheadline can provide more detail about how your company fulfills the statement or promise of the original headline.
The Boyer & Ritter LLC page below makes excellent use of this element.
In addition to concise and clear wording, your headline should stand out from the rest of your site as a main design component, catching attention from the start.
2. Social Media Links and Buttons
The world is social; there’s no way around this. In order for your brand to engage customers and potential customers, an active social media presence is essential.
While certain social media networks are better than others for different businesses, you should always be actively working to build relationships with customers online.
While you want potential customers to visit your website, your social media pages should also be a focus. To interlink the two, include social media buttons on your home page – as demonstrated in the upper right corner of the Mashable home page below.
These links make it easy for customers to access your entire online presence all at once.
3. Simple Navigation
If visitors to your website can’t find the information they’re looking for quickly and without a hassle, your website has failed.
Internet users are incredibly impatient, and in many cases anything more than a few seconds is too long to spend looking for information.
The most effective site navigations include clear headings that link to pages describing your website or company, the services offered and other important pages like blog, testimonials and more.
Limit the main navigation to five to seven categories, like this example from OneLogin, and utilize drop-down menus for more specific pages.
4. Effective Web Copy
How many times have you received an email or visited a website that offers multiple guarantees, includes too many exclamation points and makes promises that are impossible to quantify?
Probably more than you can count.
While the promises and guarantees might be true, they probably turn away more visitors than they appeal to.
Finding a balance between effective sales copy and infomercial sales lingo is critical.
To make your sales copy effective, consider:
- Including the benefits of your products or services by demonstrating a need and using your brand to fulfill that need.
- Establishing credibility through stories and testimonials.
- Describing your products or services in detail and including images.
- Highlighting special offers and sales.
- Asking questions to invoke participation from the visitor, like whether the visitor is ready for a change – as seen in the copy for Social HubSite highlighted below.
Sales copy doesn’t have to be over the top to be effective, it only needs to be genuine. Language is just as important as design.
5. Map It
If your business includes a brick-and-mortar location, your visitors should be able to find you easily, without leaving your site.
While including an address is a given, you take it one step further by using a map and direction plug-in, like Google Maps, in your site.
Maps make it easy for users on all devices – especially smartphones and other mobile devices – to locate your business and to populate directions from their current locations.
A simple, interactive map – like the one from Mericle below – gets the job done.
6. Strong Calls to Action
Even the most well-designed site cannot be effective if visitors aren’t sure how to proceed.
Fortunately, directing your visitors in the right direction doesn’t have to be a challenge.
By including a call to action that is clear and easy to follow – “Click here to sign up today,” “Purchase your XYZ product here” or “Call to set up a consultation” – your visitors will know to how to proceed in the direction that positively affects your brand’s bottom line.
Boxycharm – a retailer of monthly beauty boxes – includes a sales pitch like the one below on each page, along with a subscription link to make it simple. Include your call to action on each page for maximum results.
7. A Company Blog
While search algorithms change on a regular basis, one thing has remained consistent: sites that publish authoritative, valuable content on a regular basis are rewarded over sites that remain stagnant.
The easiest way to accomplish this is by creating a blog that is a part of your business’s webpage.
Blogs also provide a way for you to share important information with your customers on a regular basis.
They can easily be shared across social media channels and through email newsletters, providing additional touch points that could enhance your long-term marketing strategy.
When thinking of blog topics, consider the following:
- Answering questions you’re regularly asked by customers
- Sharing industry-related news
- Sharing stories about how your products have benefited customers – like iFormBuilder does in the example below
- Highlighting your employees and team members to help build a brand personality
- Announcing company news and special offers
The options are endless. Consider writing weekly – or more frequent – articles to keep your blog current and to give visitors a reason to return.
8. A Contact Page
Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than having a question or concern and not being able to reach the person that can provide an answer.
To avoid creating this frustration, include a contact page on your website, like this one from Reebok.
Your contact page should include a phone number, address and email address, but it should also include a form.
If your site visitors are able to ask a question or share a concern without leaving your website or taking an additional step, they’re more likely to do so.
9. Your Story
What separates your brand from your competition? Why should a customer select your product over another? These answers start with your brand’s story.
Customers want to connect with the brands they do business with; they want to understand your purpose and why you do what you do.
This is why stories are important. By including an “About Us” page that shares the history of your company, like this page on Yellow Leaf, visitors are more likely to feel a connection that could lead to a conversion.
Don’t overlook the importance of your brand’s story.
10. Mobile-Responsive Options
Last year, the number of mobile device users overtook traditional PC users.
This means that the majority of visitors coming to your website are probably mobile.
If your site is not ready to meet this challenge, you could lose visitors before you even have a chance to make a pitch.
Mobile-responsive sites display the basics to your visitors. They load quickly to avoid lag times by using optimized images and design features.
Some brands use apps to reach mobile users, others simply create a version that is designed for mobile devices. Working with an experienced designer will help ensure that your site is equipped for all of your visitors.
By integrating the 10 necessary elements listed above, you can be sure that your business website is attractive, effective and ready to convert visitors into loyal customers.