Your website often serves as the first, sometimes only, impression of your business to the world. A good website provides customers with pertinent information about your business, and establishes credibility.
Ever-evolving technology and ongoing competitive digital environments are the major reasons businesses should invest in keeping their website optimal and current. For a business website to successfully compete, essential features and functionalities must be up to date. If your website is more than a few years old, the functionality, user experience and visual presentation is likely not aligned with current customer expectations. When refreshing your site, or building a new one, there should be some key elements you should ensure your website has.
Website Need #1: A Current Content Management System (CMS)
A website’s CMS is what allows you to control and manage the content within your website. There are a lot of platforms to choose from including Wordpress, Joomla!, Drupal and other more design-focused platforms such as Wix and Squarespace. For sites that require a good bit of custom functionality (ie an online store, integration with other software platforms, etc) we recommend Wordpress for it’s ease of use and functionality. For those businesses looking for a very simple brochure-style site simply stating who they are and what they do, oftentimes Wix or Squarespace can work well!
Website Need #2: Web Analytics Tracking Software
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purpose of understanding and optimizing web usage. These analytics give you a deeper understanding of your customers and their behaviors on your site. Having this software set up on your website allows you to monitor customer behavior, and tweak your site accordingly to deliver a better user experience. Google Analytics is the most popular tracking software. It’s free to use, and we recommend it as the best option.
Website Need #3: eMail Marketing Integration
Email is one of the most effective forms of marketing. See our blog post titled “The Power of Email Marketing”. Be sure you are utilizing your website to encourage customers to sign up for your email list. Most major email marketing platforms such as MailChimp and Constant Contact have widgets that can be added to a website that allow customer data to flow directly from your website into your email database whenever a customer signs up. You can then setup MailChimp or Constant Contact with triggered emails to automatically email pre-set messages to customers when they sign up, a certain time after they sign up, when they purchase, etc.
Website Need #4: Adequate Hosting
Building a website and then short-changing the hosting is like buying a Corvette, and then taking it off-roading in the mud – the Corvette can’t perform the way it should, and will get stuck. The right hosting provider will provide the appropriate bandwidth and storage space needs for your website’s size and functionality. You also want a provider that offers live support to clients 24/7 so that should your hosting ever go down, they are available to make the fix.
Website Need #5 – Focus on User Experience
Don’t just walk a mile in your website visitor’s shoes…..walk the entire length of the journey. Put yourself in the position of your website visitor. Can you easily find the info you need? Do you encounter any roadblocks that slow things down? Navigate your site in its entirety to find different points of friction, then remove them. Today’s website visitors don’t have the patience to wait for a page to load, or to dig for he pertinent info they need. Instead they will leave and find another website to get what they need.
Website Need #6: Search Engine Optimization/Responsive Design
It’s almost comical to still be talking about the importance of responsive web design. For most businesses, greater than 50% of their web traffic comes from mobile devices. Responsive design means your site adjusts automatically whether it’s being viewed on a desktop, a tablet or a smartphone. That’s a must, no questions asked. Search engine optimization is another key component. Everyone wants their website to show up high on search engine results. The only way to attempt to achieve that is to ensure that your website is built in a way that’s optimized for search engines. Ensuring your website is optimized for SEO involves several technical components that are completed on the back-end of your site in the CMS system. SEO Optimization practices include having a sitemap, ensuring your keywords are utilized appropriately throughout the site, labeling your photos accordingly, properly utilizing titles/headings, having compelling content, offering a responsive design and ensuring your site loads quickly.
Website Need #7: Value-Added Content
Your website should build trust and demonstrate your authority in a space. Therefore, you want to include content on your website that provides value to your visitors. This can include:
Informative content that breaks down, explains and teaches topics related to what you do
“How To” content that provides actionable, step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish something
Process content that explains how your business uniquely executes on your services and solves customer problems.
This content can be created using blogs, articles, guides, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc. As a double benefit, this value-added content also helps with search engine optimization (SEO)!
To Tie Things Up
Bottom line, customers need to be able to find your business online, and once they do your business needs a professional, authoritative image. Building a strong website is not something that’s easy to do on your own. Besides, you have your business to run! Thompson Marketing Partners can build your business a beautiful, well-designed website that ensures you put your best foot forward.