There are some aspects that every website should have. You may have many different goals for your site, but the main goal should always be that it benefits the visitors / potential customers. People want to visit a site that caters them and meets their needs. Here are some ways to visiting your site a great experience for its users.
MEANINGFUL, RELEVANT, HELPFUL CONTENT
The content of a site is the single most important feature. Content drives everything. Without great content, the most eye-catching design, intuitive user interface, and best SEO work are useless. Your content should be focused on serving the customer, not bragging about your company. A visitor to your site wants to know what you can do for them, not how awesome your company is (Although I’m sure it is awesome).
Wikipedia doesn’t have the greatest design, but it’s content brings in millions of unique users a month.
CAREFULLY CHOSEN DOMAIN NAME
Your domain name should be short, unique, simple to spell, and easy to remember. Some recommend using a keyword in your domain name for better SEO, but this can cause problems down the road if your company ever choses to expand.
Your logo is the center of your company’s branding. It should be easily recognizable, so your brand can become well-known and trusted (if it isn’t already). Most businesses have their logo in the top-left corner of their site.
McDonalds has their logo and slogan in the top-left of its website with its own box for high visibility.
ATTRACTIVE & ORGANIZED VISUAL DESIGN
An ugly or confusing website can turn away visitors before they even take the time to look around. A poorly-designed site can make your site seem less credible. This doesn’t mean you have to have the most beautiful, fancily-designed site out there. Usually a clean and simple design that displays your content is an intuitive and organized way will serve your company best. Using design to add more personality and interest to your site is just the icing on the cake.
Apple has a simple and attractive design that uses images of its products to pull you in.
A THOUGHTFUL USER INTERFACE
When planning out your user interface, you’ll want to think about what the needs of the average visitor to your site are. Are they programmers or barely computer literate? It’s usually safest to go by the standards of what other sites are doing. Visitors won’t want to take the time to learn a whole new system of navigation. They like what they are used to.
PRIMARY INFORMATION ABOVE THE FOLD
Ease-of-use is a necessity for a great business website. Your customers are going to want to find what they’re looking for on your site quickly and freely. Having your primary information above the fold is a huge part of this. Your navigation should be there as well as your logo and a short statement that summarizes what your company does. Visitors to your site will be grateful that they didn’t have to hunt around for what your company is about.
PS. “Above the Fold” is a phrase to describe the top section of a website that is viewable on the screen without scrolling. This is usually the top 500-600 pixels.
Every site needs a footer. The footer should definitely include another version of the main navigation. It should just be simple text, which can make things much easier, especially if your main navigation is made of images. The footer navigation also provides a space to house links to pages that are important, but not important enough to be on the main navigation. Contact information and social media links are also great features to have in a footer.
AN ABOUT PAGE
People want to know about the face behind the company. They don’t want to just interact with an impersonal business. An about page with a picture of yourself and a little bit of your background information can help customers to feel a lot more connected. Giving your company a relatable face gives your company credibility, as people can see there is a real person behind the business.
There are few things more frustrating to a potential customer than finding no way to contact you. People will want to be able to get in touch easily. Having a contact form makes it easy for both you and the visitor. They can easily send you any question or comment without even leaving the site. You should also provide an email address, phone number, and mailing address so your customers have the option to contact you in whichever way works best for them.
If you have a physical location, make sure to include that too, so people will no trouble finding you. You get bonus points for embedding a Google map so visitors can get directions without leaving your site.
Osmond Interactive has their phone number and email largest and most visible for quick access. They also include a map, social media link, more contact information, and a short contact form that won't frustrate users.
A SEARCH FUNCTION
This is mostly important for large sites, blogs, and eCommerce sites. Having a search function will make your customers’ experience so much better, since they can just type it what they’re looking for and go instead of digging through pages and pages. This is incredibly important for eCommerce sites. You want no obstacle to deter your potential customers from making a purchase.
Your site should have two sitemaps, one for humans and one for search engines. Hopefully visitors won’t have to be turning to a sitemap to get around your site, but it’s always good to have an HTML sitemap. However, an XML sitemap is extremely important for search engines. It allows your site to be properly indexed by them. That means your site showing up in searches, which leads to more traffic.
CROSS-BROWSER COMPATIBILITY & RESPONSIVE DESIGN
Cross browser compatibility is a necessary evil. You may do all your internet browsing on Firefox, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will. Half your audience may be using Internet Explorer. To make sure your site provides a great experience for all users, your site should look good on all the popular browsers and platforms.
On a related note, the majority of internet browsing is shifting from being on computers to being from mobile devices. Responsive design allows websites to be viewed in a way that best suits whatever screen they are seen on.
Your website is a very public face of your business. Does it have these important elements? If it doesn’t adding them could bring a huge boost to your sales as well as customer’s opinions of your company. This list definitely is not comprehensive, but hopefully it provides a good start for improving your site today.