Plan Your Website Right
How do you feel about your website? Does it make you shudder each time you share it with a prospective client?
Maybe it’s not providing the brand experience it could.
A great website should build trust, engage, and ultimately convert lookers into loyal customers.
So you may be asking, “What do I need on my website to achieve all of this?” Or, “Where do I start!?” Great questions.
Before beginning any step in the web design process, you must know the specific goals of your website. In general, the end goal of most websites is to increase the sales of a product or service. Don’t underestimate the time, planning, and skill that great web design takes!
When beginning the design phase of a website, there are standard elements that each will need, the specifics and additions will vary depending on the business and its goals. To get you started, I’ve created a list of 10 essentials you will need to consider to create a website that wows.
Scroll to the end for your FREE PDF of “The 10 Essentials” Cheat Sheet
The 10 Essentials For A Website That Wows
1. Clear Messaging
Messaging is number one on my list of website essentials for a reason!
Who do you serve or who does your product impact?
When you are clear on who you are speaking to, your website displays your understanding of your audience, where they are coming from, and where they want to go.
I get it though…You don’t want to leave anyone out, but there are 7 billion people in the world, can you really serve them all well? More than likely, no.
You have to realize, getting specific about who your ideal audience is doesn’t mean cutting out a whole group of people. Instead, it enables you to make your purpose very clear and speak directly to your ideal customer. It also allows you to get detailed and communicate more genuinely.
Being genuine connects with your customer on a deeper level. When your website copy is written with your specific customer in mind, it demonstrates that you understand their problem and your product/service is the solution they need.
Added bonus: A clearly defined message will also help keep your site from appearing cluttered or unprofessional and white-space is very inviting!
A CTA, Call-To-Action, is text, a button, or an image that prompts your visitor to take action. Your visitors are on your website for a reason. Your website’s job is to guide them to the solution of their problem – your product or service.
Every page on your site should help visitors understand what to do next. This means every page should include at least one call-to-action.
Too many CTA’s makes the page look cluttered and complicated, instinctually people navigate away from the confusing. A headline to grab your readers’ attention before following a single arrow to read the exciting details is the next step. It’s simple.
Most likely, your homepage is your most visited page and should definitely contain one and up to three CTA’s, depending on your audience type. I go into more detail about using CTA’s in is Website Essential #9.
Your website needs to be mobile responsive – which means the design and content of your website adjust to the size of your user’s screen size. In today’s business world you cannot build a site to only work and look good on one type of device. As I discussed in the post 8 Mistakes On Your Website And How To Correct Them, more than 60% of traffic is from mobile devices. This makes a mobile-friendly website a necessity to reach your business goals. It also impacts local search and how your website ranks.
4. Email Opt-In
One of the best ways to convert website visitors into clients is through a lead capture. This could be as simple as capturing an email address through an opt-in form. Email opt-in forms have become an important element to the success of a business. Why? Because it is one of the best ways to connect with your audience – an audience made up of people who have chosen to hear from you. According to HubSpot, email generates $38 per $1 spent, which is an amazing return on your investment.
Opt-in forms are simply a form on your website where someone enters their name and email address or other vital information you request in return for something they value (a downloadable list, free class, coupon) to sign up. It can be in a site-wide banner, placed in your blog sidebar, the footer of each page, or a popup box that shows up when/where you decide.
Creating this feature may be a tech mystery to you. How do you get it to show up where and when you want it to and set up an email so that your new subscriber gets the PDF download or video you promised. There are two options, learn to do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
5. Basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
You’ll need some basic search engine optimization and understanding of the terms people use when they search. After you are done writing your content, look back through and add keywords throughout so it flows naturally. There are consequences for keyword stuffing or using loads of extra keywords that don’t apply to the context you have written. (If you’ve ever landed on a page like this you click away almost instantly and don’t read on. Why would you!)
Another basic SEO practice is to name your image files descriptively. Search engines see images by reading the file names. Your images should be appealing, relate to the content, light-weight, and SEO-friendly to get more organic traffic from search engines.
Here are some tips to help you with image SEO:
- Name your website images properly – using descriptive names.
- Always add alt tags to your images – so your site is still accessible to the visually impaired or if your image doesn’t load.
- Compress your images – choose a lower quality (70-75%). Your image file size will be greatly reduced with little noticeable loss in image clarity and it will keep your site fast.
- Make sure your images are displayed properly on mobile – (responsively)
- And of course, your images need to relate to the content on the page.
We’ve all been on a website with slow-loading images – no one has the patience for that!
6. Google Analytics
Simply put, if you can’t measure what your website is doing, how do you know what is working and what is not? Websites should be designed and built fluidly so that necessary changes are easily made. Google Analytics will display all of the channels that direct traffic to your site, which will help you make decisions about where to spend your time and money, to help you reach your business goals.
Analytics will also show you what devices your audience is using, help you see what pages are working well and which are not. This can also help you pinpoint any issues with your website, so you can work out a solution.
With all of that said, it is obviously important to find a designer who believes in strategy then design, then testing, and if necessary redesign! Some web professionals are more comfortable than others working this way.
7. Thank You Page
Your website will need a thank you page if you have an email opt-in form. Once someone has signed up for your list, you want to redirect them to a thank you page on your site. As you thank your visitor, why not use this online real estate to ask them to share your site, point them to more great content, or offer a discount.
Having a thank you page also makes it easy to track sign-up conversions with your analytics.
8. Contact Form
Another essential feature on your website is a contact form that converts. Your contact page should make it as easy as possible for someone to get in touch with you. When you create your contact form, require only the fields you need in order to respond to that person. The more questions you ask the less likely someone is to fill out the form. This brings us to another way to use your contact form, by asking specific questions you are more likely to weed out those who are not your ideal customer before they inquire.
A blog has the potential to drive more traffic to your website. When your readers like what they read, it becomes a great way to introduce new visitors to you or your business. This makes it even more important to focus on the user experience in the structure of your blog. Be sure to include CTA’s on every blog post using buttons or images.
Blog post CTA’s will encourage readers to:
- Follow or share on social media
- Subscribe to your newsletter
- Download a lead magnet, related to the post they just read
Social proof, like reviews, testimonials, or word-of-mouth are very important. What others say about you/ your product/ your service can be 10 times more powerful than what your site says about your business. Happy customers will do the hard work for you when they receive an outstanding experience with your company. Testimonials paint a picture of the experience you provide your customers.
Improving your website and how your customers use it, can only help you serve and impact them that much better.
Want a checklist so you can make sure your website contains all 10 Essentials For A Website That WOWS? Click YES! to be taken to the download page and begin channeling the planner in YOU 🙂
Now that you know how to plan your site, read How To Create Your Website Like A Designer and make it happen!