1. Using a Quality Hosting Plan – Best to get this out of the way first. A good website starts and ends with performance, therefore investing in a quality host is a must. Proper web hosting not only improves website speed but typically allows for higher bandwidth limits as well. That means your website can stream media faster or function at 100% even in heavy traffic. Better hosting also means more reliable website security and tech support if you ever run into any problems.
2. Lightning Load Times – Although good hosting strongly affects website speed it’s only one of several factors. Your website’s images need to be optimized for the smallest possible file sizes in Photoshop or with a plugin like Smush.it. Also, avoid hosting videos on your own web server as it is a major drain of resources. Consider uploading videos to YouTube first and embedding them onto your website after. Finally, install a good caching plugin which can shave several seconds off web page load times.
3. Content That Connects – The term “content is king” is still used today ad nauseam, with people thinking bloated pages of run-on text is key to SEO success. Simply put great content is answering your customers’ biggest questions or concerns and educating them on the best solutions. That could be through great copywriting, informative media elements, a detailed FAQ page or a well-maintained blog. Don’t skimp out on the important details or you’ll be derailing your website’s full sale potential.
4. Be a Media Darling – There’s an old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” which is especially true with web design. Your website should be full of high-quality, relevant images that tell a story about your business. If a picture is worth a thousand words however, then a video is worth a thousand pictures. Strongly consider using video on your website even if you’re just using a cell phone to start. Podcasting is also a great way to communicate with your audience along with infographics or anything interactive you can include.
5. Easy to Get Around – How you navigate through a website is one of the most important, yet overlooked, elements of web design. A website’s job is to get visitors to the key information with the fewest number of clicks possible. Every extra click a customer endures is like adding another rung on a giant ladder. Also, implement proper interlinking on website subpages, don’t make the home page the only place users can find the best content.
6. Don’t Be Insecure – It is alarming how uninterested website owners can be about website security, especially when online payments are involved. There is zero excuse for your website to not have an SSL certificate installed with the proper HTTPS extension. From there make full use of the countless security plugins available, often completely free of charge.
If you’re lazy about protecting your website, be prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars per year for virus removal and corrupted data.
7. Ultra-Professional Design – You never get a second chance to make a first impression and with web design, you can literally take that to the bank. It’s estimated that 75% of all web surfers decide whether your business is credible based on the look of your site alone. Although it can be very tempting to go the cheaper route with GoDaddy, Wix or Weebly, at the end of the day you get what you pay for. Hiring a website professional is one of the smartest decisions you will make if you want customers to take you seriously.
8. Mobile Responsive – Over 50% of website users surf the net on their cellphone first, meaning desktop computers are now the minority. It’s important to make mobile functionality your top priority or you’ll be missing out on over half of your potential sales. Worse yet Google’s algorithm will flag non-responsive websites as a bad user experience and drop your search engine ranking accordingly.
9. Strong Calls to Action – If you want your customer to do something when they visit your website you must specifically guide their next course of action. Whether that’s “follow us on Facebook” or “get a free quote” or “subscribe to our mailing list” calls to action should be visible everywhere. Don’t just use CTAs on your home page alone, include them on any other page where it makes sense. Don’t overdo it to the point of becoming a spammer but make sure your intentions are crystal clear.
10. Go for SEO – A highly effective website factors in search engine optimization into all content and architecture. That means including your most sought-after keywords in website title tags, H1 tags, alt tags, page URLs and meta descriptions. Google is all about finding your key information quickly and these are the first places web crawlers look. Overuse of keywords (or keyword stuffing) can get your website penalized so include them for readability first and SEO second.
11. Know the Competition – To make a great website you must first research the standard of competition in your industry. If you live in a bubble and don’t plan to meet or exceed the quality of your online competitors you’ve already lost. Remember people will always shop around for the best overall experience and that’s not just limited to product quality or price. Your website needs to showcase the best your company has to offer and do it better than the other options available.
12. Easy to Update – Most websites today like WordPress or Shopify use Content Management Systems (CMS) where business owners can do simple updates themselves. If you’re stuck relying on your web developer for basic edits you’re less likely to update your site, due to cost and convenience. Be sure you’re aware of how to update your website properly, or if you’re working with a developer, confirm training is provided.
13. Know Your Audience – When you’re building a website every creative aspect should be laser-focused on your ideal client. Understand who you are selling to, what their most important needs are and why you are the right choice for the job. Don’t get overly wordy with technical jargon, speak to your audience the same way you would in person. This builds trust and rapport with future customers before they even choose to contact you.
14. Pick A Great Domain Name – All domain names are not created equal and yours needs to stand out in the crowd. Choose a domain name that is catchy, memorable and clearly states the type of business you are in. Shorter domains are usually recommended, but you also want to include your desired keywords if possible. The right domain choice will give your website a better click-through rate and an instant SEO advantage.
15. Eyes on The Prize – When building a website people are often lured into getting too fancy, adding bells and whistles that do nothing to sell your product. A website’s job is to shine the spotlight clearly on what you are trying to sell while eliminating all distractions. Don’t go for “wow factor” at the expense of getting to the point quickly and effectively.
16. Back It Up – You’d be surprised how many website owners do not perform regular backups of their website. This becomes a major issue if your website crashes or you acquire a virus or malware. Paying to fix these problems is not cheap but it’s usually very preventable. Invest in the proper backup solutions which are often free and can function on auto-pilot if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.
17. Don’t Be Anti-Social – Social media is arguably the best way to gain better exposure for your business. Make sure your social media buttons are always clearly visible and easily clickable on your web pages. If there is a way you can encourage or reward someone for joining you on social media, even better. Getting a customer to like or follow your business is the perfect way to keep in touch long after they’ve left your website.
18. Add A Blog – One of the biggest questions first time website customers ask is “what is a blog” and “why do I need one?”. Simply put, a blog allows you to easily post up to date content that keeps your audience coming back for more. That could include important announcements, personal videos or educational articles. You may choose to populate the blog yourself or hire a content developer instead. Either way, Google loves new content and rewards websites that are constantly active.
19. Subscribe to Thrive – Building a mailing list is extremely valuable for long term sales success. You can easily add a subscribe button to your website with a program like MailChimp or Thrive Leads. This allows you to contact hundreds or even thousands of customers whenever you send out your newsletter.
Often people need time to get to know you before being comfortable enough to make a purchase. A mailing list allows you to stay fresh in buyers’ minds with regular reminders.
20. Be Unique – You can decide to do what everybody else is doing online or take things a step further. Analyze the best websites in your line of work and identify 4 or 5 things they all do well. Then make another list with 2 or 3 things they are not doing but would benefit them greatly if they were. If you’re able to incorporate these ideas and go the extra mile for your customers, you’ll be at a distinct advantage in your marketplace.