When leads are dwindling and business is not-so-booming, the last place business owners look for blame is their website. This is often because many business owners believe a website is a one-time investment; a marketing asset that they invest in once and then leave to its own devices, in the hope that it will continue to reap the same benefits that it always did.
A website is the face of a brand and it’s what gives a brand’s customers and potential customers that ‘first impression’. In order to make that first impression count, there are certain essential design and development elements that every website must possess in order to succeed in 2019.
As the world of web is constantly evolving and social trends are continuously changing, we believe that a website should be regularly reviewed and developed in order to continue performing well. Here we highlight the elements that we believe make a great website.
The Right CMS
A CMS (or Content Management System) is the backend infrastructure of a website that helps users create, manage, and modify the content, without the need for specialist technical knowledge.
Using the right CMS can be the difference between success and failure for businesses, as the CMS used, fundamentally determines the functionality and potential capabilities of a website.
The most commonly used (and our personal favourite) CMS, is WordPress, which powers over 75 million websites worldwide. WordPress is a free and open-source CMS with over 30,000 themes and 55,000 plugins available; allowing for simplified website customisation.
A Reliable Website Host
A website host is a remote server where a website’s files, content, and information are stored.
A successful business will always use a reliable and reputable hosting service for their website. Doing so ensures:
- Optimal website performance
- Technical Support
- Regular site backups
- Minimal downtime
Did you know that we offer hosting services from as little as £20 per month? Find out more about our hosting services here.
A Valid SSL Certificate
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that creates a secure layer between a website and a user’s browser; enabling an encrypted (secure) connection.
Having an SSL certificate can help prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information, such as credit card details by using encryption methods. Not only does a website with an SSL certificate provide an element of trust for users, but it can also have SEO benefits as Google will more often than not, prioritise secure sites over insecure sites in its search rankings.
Wondering how to identify a website with an SSL certificate? Take a look at the website URL; if it starts with HTTPS rather than HTTP it means it means the site is secure and using an SSL certificate (the additional ‘S’ standing for secure).
Did you know that if you have your website hosted by us, we will include an SSL certificate as standard?
A Clean and Professional Design
A well-designed website should be simple, yet professional and should always compliment the content rather than distract from it.
We believe the following makes for a clean and professional looking website:
- A strong but limited colour palette
- Consistency with fonts for all headings, subheadings and body text
- Ample white (or negative) space
- High-quality images, placed consistently across the site
- Clear and concise content
The SEO Basics
We believe that every website should be fully optimised with SEO best practices in mind, as standard, however, we also understand that for many this either isn’t possible, within budget or just isn’t a priority.
That said, we do maintain that every website should at least include the SEO basics, such as:
- High-quality content that is relevant and unique
- Good loading speed
- Optimised for relevant keywords
- High-quality backlink profile
- Mobile responsiveness
Mobile-Friendly / Responsiveness
A website that is mobile-friendly, is a website that is responsive (and works) on all mobile devices and screen sizes.
A website can be designed by the best web designer in the world, but if it isn’t optimised for mobile devices, it’s pretty much pointless, now that over 51% of Google searches come from mobile devices.
These days, any reputable web design agency will create mobile responsive websites as standard practice.
We don’t want to struggle to find what we are looking for on a website; we want to be able to navigate our way through without being overwhelmed with unnecessary content.
Having an easy to use and intuitive navigation on a website helps to guide users through the website and to the next stage of their journey.
A website with simple navigation will usually include:
- A prominent or easy to find menu
- Limited menu items
- Clear navigation back to the homepage from any location on the site
- Clear navigation to contact page from any location on the site
- Search bar functionality
A site that includes a search bar feature allows users to take control of their experience on the site by giving them the ability to find exactly what they are looking for, straight away.
Webpages that rank the highest in search results have on average 7 images included on the page that they rank highly for.
Using high quality and eye-catching images help to convey messages and break up content, whilst also improving the sites overall appearance.
A 404 page
A 404 page is a page that appears when a user attempts to access or manages to find a page that no longer exists.
It’s inevitable that this will occur on occasion, and the best way to deal with, or prepare for this eventuality, is to create a smashing 404 page.
We believe that if your 404 page is to include nothing else – ensure that at the very least – it includes the following:
- A sentence to explain that they have encountered an error
- An apology
- A clear option to navigate back to your homepage
*Bonus points for including humour.
Strong Call to Actions
A call to action is a piece content (such as a button) on a website that created that encourages a user to perform a specific action such as signing up to a newsletter, providing contact details or signing up to a free trial.
A great call to action is one of the most important website components for successful businesses; it’s what encourages their users to do what they want them to do once they have landed on their website.
Reviews and Testimonials
A website is a great start for providing users with information about a business and also creating that all-important first impression. But, there’s nothing that will demonstrate social proof and create trust more than splashing good reviews and testimonials across a website.
We love finding websites that shout about their happy customers and backing it up with genuine reviews and testimonials.
Looking to improve your website’s usability? Or maybe just think it’s time for a tidy up here and there?
If you’re feeling like your website isn’t performing as well as it used to, is no longer gaining the traffic that it used to, or needs a refresh, get in touch with us. Not only are we experts in all things web design and development but we are also skilled with the knowledge and experience to help market your website.
Try Square Media as your outsourced marketing team today!