The 5 Must-Haves for Your Website
Summer is in full swing here at 180Fusion. All of you (and all of us!) are celebrating holidays, having barbeques and laying out by the pool, but truthfully — there is no better time than the lazy summer months to make sure your websites have everything they need to succeed. With sunshine and the smell of sunscreen comes a lifting of spirits that boosts not only your Vitamin D levels, but your creative levels, as well.
Just like in real life, in the on-line space you often get only one chance to make a good impression. Your first impression is absolutely critical to the success of your website. A good first impression relies heavily on the following: a professional and easily navigated design, informative and well written content, optimization, analytics, and most importantly — prominently displayed contact information. When you make sure that these bases are covered you will have set the cornerstones for a successful internet presence.
- Professional and Easily Navigated Design: As early as 2006 studies began coming out about the importance of your website design. Gitte Lindgaard, a researcher at Carleton University published a study showing that your potential customer develops an opinion about your site in 50 milliseconds. That’s about the time it takes to blink your eye. This opinion will determine whether or not that potential customer will bother to look at the rest of your content. In essence, if your website does not only please the eye, but also represent the professionalism and image you desire, then you are losing customers before you even knew they were there. Remember, you are competing for your position against your local and national competitors. Your website design must meet or beat the bar set by them, because your customers are comparing you.
Always remember that the primary goal of your website should be to serve your customers. You need to be giving your customers what they want and need. Your website should contain a navigation menu that is simple and well titled — don’t use ambiguous names to title your tabs. If your customer is confused they will move on. There should be a three click rule to your navigation. If it takes more than 3 clicks to get to any content on your site — you might as well not include it, because the customer will never get there.
- Informative and Well Written Content: Now that you have your cornerstones set, it is time to build your foundation and good content is the foundation of a successful website. You may have spent time and money investing in 4 out of the 5 Must Haves for Your Website, but if you have not invested in well written content, then the success of your website comes into serious question. When a visitor comes to your website they should find content that clearly explains your products and services. Your website should also give the customer a reason to choose you over your competitors — a persuasive call to action that will lead the customer to contact you. If a customer has to spend more than 30 seconds on your site to discover who you are, what you offer and why you are the best, based on a combination of your design on your content, they are very likely to check another listing.
Your content is critical to your websites optimization and ranking on sites such as Google, which leads me to the next topic.
- Optimization: Are you ready to put up your frame? If your framework has been built badly, your house will never stand. SEO Optimization should be carefully planned and executed throughout the entire site to keep your site sturdy and, therefore, more appealing to search engines. Search engines rank you based on complicated algorithims, but you can win a top ranking organically by paying close attention to your optimization plan and techniques. One of the most important factors that search engines like Google and Yahoo pay attention to is keywords within your content. You should spend some time considering which key words your customers are most likely to search for and then be sure that those keywords are commonly, but not overly, used in your content. For top ranking within a competitive market, you will need at least one page of content focused on each key word. If you are a smaller, local business you will need less content, but the use of your key words within quality and informative content is crucial. A good example of content written on key words is a page out of the encyclopedia.
Your site should be carefully coded to enhance the ability of the search engines to search for content and understand what you are trying to accomplish. Every page on your site must have a unique HTML title tag (which references the keyword), meta key words tag and meta description tags.
- Analytics: If your roof is missing or it leaks, then your building will eventually crumble back onto its foundation. Analytics provide knowledge that will keep everything else fresh and sturdy. While analytics are not visible to your customer, the end impact they will make on the customer is very real. Analytics will show you exactly what is converting and what customers are interested in. This will allow you to cut out irrelevant or bad content and replace it with content that the customer really wants.
- Prominently Displayed Contact Information: You could relate your contact information to the finishing touch of the front door. If your customer doesn’t know how to contact you without searching for the information, then odds are they won’t contact you. In addition to having your contact information prominently displayed, I often recommend a form that gives the customer a chance to take an action — e.g. Request More Information, Subscribe to our Blog or Sign Up for our Newsletter.
If I were you, I would be thinking, “I just want to relax this summer!”. The good news is that you can sit back and relax. 180Fusion can help you with any and every aspect of the 5 Must Haves for Your Website. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager and discuss how we can work, so you can relax.
Enjoy your barbeques and fun in the sun!