Your website is the hub for online information about your company. In addition to describing and selling your products or services, it can be a central repository for blog posts, newsletters, articles, videos, and other valuable content that you create. It’s also the destination to point to when you post those assets on social media sites and elsewhere. With so much activity within and around your website, you want to make sure it’s doing its job: converting interested prospects into paying customers.
You can find countless articles about the many features and sections of an effective website and you should seriously consider that advice. But whether you include many of those features or sections depends on your target market and how they want to buy. For example, for a clothing manufacturer, an online store is likely a must-have, while a software development firm probably doesn’t need it.
Yet, there are things that are common for any company website, regardless of its industry or target audience. Here we present 5 of the most essential bare-bones website elements.
- Relevant Content
You may have heard that news stories answer in the first paragraph the critical questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how. You should strive to do the same with the initial content of your website, ideally on the home page. Post a clear statement about what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for. Include the major benefits and other important details. Then, allow viewers to click to additional content to find out more.
Include specific descriptions of the products or services you offer, including exactly what customers can expect from them. If possible, include high-quality photos or illustrations to support your text. Also, try to address any concerns or objections you’ve heard from actual customers or those you can imagine. Make sure any supplemental content such as articles and blog posts, follow these same guidelines.
- User-Friendly Navigation
One of the most frustrating things for website users is not being able to quickly find the information they want. So, you have to make it easy for them. Your menu should include high-level section titles as well as specific page names. Consider displaying the high-level sections and allowing viewers to click them to see what’s underneath.
Carefully consider the organization of your site so it makes logical sense. You may have to try a few different arrangements before you arrive at the best one. If possible, have testers try to find certain information on your site to help you understand its navigability.
- Eye-Catching Design
Design is subjective and will largely depend on the kinds of customers you hope to attract. While an accounting firm may use clean lines and minimal illustrations, an amusement park might display bright colors and lots of photos. Either way, the design should be well thought-out and in alignment with your content. The key is to ensure the visual aspect of your website reflects your brand and is appealing to your target market.
In today’s mobile-driven world, your design must also be responsive, which means it appears differently on different-sized screens. Businesses whose websites still require pinching and zooming on a smartphone are doing themselves a disservice because viewers will likely click away rather than subject themselves to that aggravation.
- Obvious Way to Initiate Transactions
Websites are complex and they can take a long time to develop. You have many details to consider. So, you might lose sight of the true purpose: to convert prospects into customers. If you don’t make it easy for people to do business with you, you’ll lose sales. So, make it very obvious on every page or section of your site how to take the next step.
Keep in mind that, because some people might still be in the decision-making phase, the next step may not be a purchase. It might be a newsletter signup or a free consultation. Again, make it obvious how to perform these actions. To do so, you can use big buttons, boldface type, illustrations, arrows, pop-up windows, or a combination of all them.
- Obvious Contact Information
As good as your website might be, visitors may still have questions for you. Create multiple ways for them to reach you, including phone numbers, email addresses, chat boxes, or social media links. This element, or at least an obvious link to it, is another one that you should include on every page.
Websites can be as different as the companies that they represent, with nearly endless options for features and design elements. When creating or refreshing a site, each business must consider the needs of their target audience when deciding which components to include.
But some elements are absolute must-haves. When you include a clear description of your offerings, easy navigation, an appealing design, and obvious contact and transaction tools, you have a strong foundation no matter what you want to sell.