Websites can be like Transformers 2
Websites can wow us. They can be amazing feats of technical and artistic achievement. But hang on - for all the fun that comes with a night at the movies, with that raging loud surround sound, and super high-resolution screen at the Mega Cineplex... there might be something missing.
The first Transformers movie was a blockbuster for sure. That meant the Hollywood guys making the sequel needed to elevate the experience even more, right?
And they did – A-list actors fighting and robots transforming and crazy explosions galore. You likely had popcorn all over your shirt and couldn't possibly open your eyes any wider to take in the spectacular visual effects. And then, after your pulse slowed a bit and the main act of the story is revealed, you might have started to realize the substance just wasn't there. The critics sure didn't think so.
The same sort of thing goes with websites. Web designers and their clients can get enamored by the visuals of a site and lose sight of what the purpose is. And it's that purpose that must be defined early on. Be it: calling, clicking, learning, watching, sharing, subscribing, buying, whatever. That needs to be articulated at the beginning and carried through in the strategy of how the site is built.
We design and develop many types of websites for businesses. We're a marketing firm. That's a profound difference when comparing us with many website companies. We look at a website from a marketing and conversion perspective first. Then we build that strategic approach for business into a site that does more than just look pretty. With the most talented graphic designers in the valley you can be sure it will look amazing – but more importantly, it will function as an effective business tool.
Through over 20 years of creating websites for businesses we've learned some things that every website absolutely should have. Here's our top 10 list.
what every website should have
1. A clear description of who you are
Someone who stumbles upon your website shouldn't have to work to figure out what, exactly, it is that you do. That means clearly stating your name and summing up your products or services right on the homepage.
Confirm for users that this is the right website that they have been searching for. Careful copywriting and compelling messaging will encourage them to stay on your website longer, and ultimately do something you want them to do.
2. A simple, sensible domain name (web address)
Imagine telling someone your website address, verbally, in a loud restaurant - or over a noisy phone connection with someone who doesn't have great hearing. The easier it is for someone to understand, the better.
3. An easily-navigated site map
Some people like to see a bulleted-list view of every page on your site, so they can quickly navigate to the page they want. A site map like that can be a nice addition to a "404 Error" page, so if someone doesn't find what they're looking for, they don't have to just start over at the homepage to try to find it.
4. Easy-to-find contact information
Imagine a busy dad with three screaming kids in tow, who just wants to find the phone number of a business like yours. Will he find what he's looking for immediately, or will he run out of patience because you made it difficult?
5. Customer testimonials
Any business can say they're the best, but it usually takes a little more than that to convince your customer. Have you won any industry awards? Any reviews from real customers you could show? Amazon and Yelp are popular because of the reviews from real customers. A user can relate to other users' experiences even if they don't agree with them. Share the reasons why people like you. Others might like those same qualities.
6. An obvious call to action
What do you want your visitors to do? Call now? Get a free quote? Make an appointment? Whatever it is - tell them, and make it easy for them to do it.
7. Basic SEO integration
Is your services page located at mywebsite.com/page-id-90813.php or something along those lines that doesn't make sense to humans? Or does the title of the page (that appears in the browser tab) say something like "Untitled Document?" Things like URL structure, page titles, and headings on the pages can make a big difference for SEO.
8. Fresh, quality content
All things being equal, search engines are going to list the website that was updated today higher than the website that hasn't been updated in months (or years). All things aren't equal, of course, but the more you update your site with high-quality information, the better you'll do.
9. A secure hosting platform
You probably shouldn't host your website with your friend's uncle's roommate's company, who has offered to give you a great deal - because it might not be reliable, so your site visitors might see error pages that the website is not available. Go with a hosting company that is reliable and can promise that your website will be there when people try to find it.
10. A design and style that's friendly to online readers
Make it easy to see images, easy to read text, even on a phone with some glare on the screen (if you use dark blue text on a black background, you're going to lose most if not all of your potential audience).
If your site has all of this, your website will not only look great, it will be more effective than the majority of all website on the internet. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but if your site is converting leads to customers, you will know it. If it isn’t, it can be tough to know the reason(s) why unless your site has the basics done right. Not sure? Contact us. We'll review your full website and give you a free quote on what it might take to "transform" it into a money making machine!