One of the most common questions we get asked is what a website should include and how it should look. This can be a difficult question to answer because every industry is different and every client has their own vision.
Putting it simply, websites are like faces. They are all unique. But fantastic, thought-out websites identify who you are, what you have to offer and do it seamlessly. These sites include nuances of the brand and content that will make you want to read every last word.
1. Clean Layout
Don’t overcrowd your site. Make it easy for your customer to read and undestand what you have to offer. Start by simply hand-drawing a wireframe and sectioning off your website by content, images, call-to-actions and blog.
2. Great Content
Content can lead your customer down 2 paths. It can either pull them in and get them on the hook or it can bore them, confuse them and push them toward purchasing from your competitor. You can hire a copywrighter or do your research and write it yourself. Just make sure it’s awesome!
3. Beautiful Imagery
Pictures say a thousand words. Having your own photography is the best option, but not everyone is capable of providing their own.
Here’s a guideline for picking the perfect photos for your website:
- Choose photos that don’t look like stock photos. If they look posed then they probably are. Pick candid imagery. They will look more real and relatable to your customer base.
- Choose natural light photography. Light and bright is the design trend and it’s not going anywhere.
- Choose photos that relate to what you’re selling. People smiling or giving a thumb’s up tells your customer nothing.
- Choose stock photos wisely. If you own a restaurant but have no pictures of your own dishes, do not use stock photos of food. That’s misleading to your customers. Rather, choose pictures of food being prepared on the grill or a server waiting on happy customers.
- Ensure your imagery is high-resolution and optimized for web viewing.
Pixelated images are a turn-off.
Think of these as little, tiny salespeople. They hang out on website pages, next to or below a great set of copy and have fantastic hook-lines. They can say anything from “Let’s Chat” to ”Start Your Free Trial Now!”. Your customer simply clicks on the call-to-action and it takes them right to your contact page. Money in the bank.
5. Custom Design Aspect
Find a design aspect that complements your brand. Recently, while designing a site for a client, I felt like it was missing something. After hours of thinking about what it needed, I realized all it needed was a thin, gold line under each of the images and products. It was that simple but made such a huge impact to the overall feel of the project.
6. Branding Cohesion
Branding is the first place to start in marketing. You cannot skip out on a logo as it defines your colors, fonts and overall feel. Stay within your branding guidelines and your site will feel like it flows perfectly. If you have an E-Commerce store and sell products, include your brand ideas in your product naming.
7. Font Selection
In choosing the best fonts for your site there are a few guidelines to stick with:
- Use at least one font that you’ve already used in your logo or business cards.
- Always use a different font for your headers than you use for the body of your copy.
- Use at least 2 – 3 different fonts throughout your site to separate your buttons and call-to-actions from your headers and body content.
8. The Blog
Blogging about your industry is a fantastic way to market your business as well as relate to your customer. Sharing information with your customers gains their trust, proves your worth and creates a lasting business relationship with them.
9. Great Icons
Use wireframe or flat design icons rather than bulleting your information. They are a wonderful way to organize your copy while creating a more visual experience for your client. Ensure they relate to your content and are your brand colors.
10. Mobile Responsive
The majority of consumers are looking to purchase from their mobile phones rather than a desktop computer. If your site isn’t mobile optimized, you are missing out on about 75% of your target market. Don’t miss out on potential business. Having a mobile responsive site is a small investment with a huge reward.
11. SSL Certificate
Security is essential these days. An SSL Certificate helps your search rankings on Google, Bing & Yahoo!, but also shows your customers your site can be trusted. It’s a small fee and provides a sense of security to your clients that you couldn’t otherwise provide.
12. Contact Page
It’s so common that I visit a site and their contact page either doesn’t exist or it’s missing vital information. Guidelines for a contact page are simple.
- List a phone number if you have a business line.
- If you have a physical address, list it and show a Google map location.
- Have a contact form! This one is the MOST important! Ensure your contact form has any information you want to capture from your customers like Name, Phone Number, Email Address, Comments and anything else you need.
13. Customer Reviews
I can’t stress the importance of customer reviews enough. This shows your customers that you’re willing to bare it all for them and also acts as references.
14. Social Media Proof
Social Media is one of the largest ways to market a business these days. It helps to keep your company current and get your product in front of an additional market. Have clickable social icons on your site that lead your client directly to your social media and you’ll see an increase in activity.
15. XML Sitemaps
Last, but definitely not least, is a technical aspect that every website owner should know about. In layman’s terms, an XML Sitemap is an index list of URLs on your site that you want search engines to crawl. If you don’t have a sitemap, search engines won’t crawl your site and you won’t rank in the search engines.
BONUS: SEO Pro Tip
If you’re in the process of a website redesign, this is very important. The agency designing the site needs to setup 301 redirects from any old URLs that have been changed to new URLs. If you are doing a DIY redesign, contact us and we can take care of that for you.
We want your site to be as fantastic as the pros, so we created this simple guide for you to follow. It doesn’t matter if you have hired a web designer to create your site for you or if you’re designing it yourself using a website creator, these tips are integral in capturing your business objectives and selling them to your customer. Take our advice and use these 15 website must-haves and your website will look gorgeous, professional and current.
Please comment below if you have anymore tips to add to our list.