Let’s face it, in today’s world every business should have a website. The question is what does it need on it? Not every business is the same, and there is no one size fits all website that covers every industry. With that being said, there is some things that every website must have regardless of your industry. Here is the top 9 things we think your website should have to be a success and actually help increase your sales, because at the end of the day that is the purpose of the website!

1. Design that is simple, clutter free, and easy to navigate.

We have all heard of K.I.S.S. right? (keep it simple stupid). Not everything needs to be bright and stand out, or be animated. Some of the most effective websites out there are not complex in design, in fact they are usually very simple. Your eyes are attracted to the few items that are made to stand out and get your attention. Keep in mind when people are using search engines to find something they are looking for, they will judge your website in a matter of a few seconds! A clean design is so important for this, as well as having the featured content easy to see and read that will help keep people there. Avoid lots of long write ups on your home page or landing pages. Use short paragraphs, bullet points and highlight important words or phrases.

2. Proper coded website for SEO (search engine results).

No matter how good your traffic is, how many back-links you have, or how well written your content is, if your website is not programmed right, you will have a hard time getting the results you want. Programming of your website is the foundation of your SEO, while it alone won’t get you the results, without it the rest of your website SEO has nothing to support it. It’s always good to get a second opinion on your websites SEO health, even if you have to pay extra for it.

3. Easy to find contact information

This one bothers the heck out of me. There is nothing worse that being on a website and you cannot find a way to contact them. As a business owner you need to think about what is the main source of people connecting with you. Is it by phone? Do they come to your location? Whatever it is, it should be the easiest thing for them to use to contact you. Usually a phone number in the header, or link to a map is a good start. You will also want a contact page with all your contact methods on it, and make sure the contact page is easy to find on other pages like in the navigation and not some small link in the footer. Finally, if your using any social media make sure its built in to the design and easy to find.

4. Testimonials

This is the most underused feature of a website that is one of the most important. I also want to stress that you should never put fake testimonials. Seems obvious, but I have seen them time and time again. Some important features of good testimonials are getting key people in your industry or community, someone people know. Having a first and last names with the testimonial helps people know that its a real testimonial. Including the persons business name attached really helps build credibility. Placing a picture of the person with the testimonial also helps build trust. While it may not be possible to have everything in line to a perfect testimonial because of confidentiality reasons (A counselor may not be able to list his patients names) but doing what you can to make them seem as real as possible is your key here.

5. Call to Action

Always, always, always have a call to action on every page. Maybe its in your design, or maybe its specific to that page and it’s content. You should always be asking people to do something on that page. It may be to call now, buy now, sign up now, register now, pick your nose now (ok, maybe not that one). If your not trying to make the sale, your not going to get the sale. You don’t always need to ask for the sale either, maybe your call to action is a soft one and its to just go to another page or subscribe to your newsletter. Remember not all sales happen with one point of contact, most sales come after 6-7 points of contact with the customer which is why newsletters are so effective.

6. Simple ways for people to spread the word

If you want people to help promote you, you better make it as easy as possible. To copy your URL, open an email program, or open a social media website, and paste it in there takes far to long, and people will mostly likely not do it. That’s hard enough to do on a computer, never mind a smart phone! Now we have these amazing social icons, that with one click people can share your website and brief information in a mere few seconds to over a hundred different methods and social media websites.

7. Analytics

I can’t tell you how many times I ask someone the simple question of how much traffic they get and I get this deer in the headlights look for a few seconds, and then they say, “I am not sure”. (I need to take a 5 minute break from writing this blog to calm down). Ok, I am back, coffee in hand and ready to move forward. Every host provides you with the most simple of analytics. You should at least know how much traffic you have per month, and where its coming from…..at the least! Using Google analytics allows us to go way deeper, but also remember we don’t need to dig into every detail just because it’s there. It all depends on your business. knowing your analytics allows us to make educated guesses on whats working on your website and what isn’t to make sure your getting sales from it.

8. Images

Our eyes go to images before words. Using good images that represent your brand, product, service, or you is very important. In most cases using professional photos are a must. If our eyes go to images first on a page, then they are our first impression. As stated above, if the impression your site is not in sync with what the visitor is expecting they will leave within seconds possibly without reading a word on your website. Do not cheap out on the photos, hire a pro, you wont regret it!

9. Best for last

Us, you need us! (Did you see that one coming?) Ok so we think you need us, but if choose not to hire us you do need a professional to help you with your website. Yes you can probably find a way to make your website yourself for free or cheap, but will it actually function properly as it should? As a business owner you need to understand the value a professional gives you. As we always like to stress to our clients, do what you do best, outsource the rest! Focus on what you do best, if that’s the sales, or the production or whatever, and hire people that do the other jobs the best they can.Your business will be far better off, run smoother and make more money because of it. If you’re not convinced and still want to do a website yourself, then at least pay a professional to review your site, and give you honest feedback on it, it will be money well spent!