Your website is your biggest marketing tool. Whether you’re hiring a web designer, or going the DIY route, it’s important to understand which aspects of your website are crucial to help attract and convert new customers or clients.
Before you get bogged down in colours, fonts and photography, make sure that your site includes – at the very least – these 5 essential website features.
1. Mobile friendly
Do you remember the last time you landed on an annoying website while browsing on your phone? Chances are you had to scroll from left to right to read the text, or needed to zoom in and out.
Can you also remember what you did next? I bet you gave up and moved on to another website, one more compatible with your mobile browsing experience.
What you experienced was the frustration of landing on a non-responsive website.
Don’t be the owner of that website.
If you want to ensure that all your potential clients and customers stick around once they’ve found your site, you need to assume that their first point of contact is going to be while they’re browsing on a device.
Don’t just listen to me however. You know it’s serious when Google release an update to their algorithm. Very recently – in April 2015 – they introduced a big new change. In essence, the upshot is that if your website doesn’t play well on devices, it will be penalised.
Take the mobile friendly test and see if your site is ticking the right boxes.
2. Call to action above the fold
When a visitor arrives to your website, you want to catch their attention straight away. To do this you need a clear Call to Action (often abbreviated to CTA) sitting above the fold.
That’s all well and good, you say. But what does that even mean? Let’s break it down:
- A Call to Action is a piece of text, or an image, that prompts your visitor to take some sort of action
- Above the fold is the top part of your website, the bit you can see before starting to scroll down.
This is why many websites have a big banner, image or slideshow at the very top of the home page. It’s not just there to look pretty, it’s a way of cleverly using that valuable space and saying ‘look at me’ and then saying ‘do this, or do that!’
Your website will probably have CTAs sprinkled throughout, but even if you only put a CTA in one place, make sure it’s there at the very top of your home page.
3. Clear and easy navigation
Your small business website exists for a reason, and that reason is to help you land clients, or to sell your product.
If your visitors are faced with umpteen choices of buttons to click, or chunks of text to read, they’re going to get distracted, give up, and move on to your competitor’s site. A site which is stealing your clients with its simple design and clear, easy navigation.
What do we mean by clear and easy navigation?
Think of your website like a map to buried treasure. You want to help your visitor find the gold that they’re looking for, and that you know you can provide to them. Make sure that wherever they land on your site, they can pick up the relevant trail quickly and easily.
In practical terms, we’re talking about:
- The menu bar across the top of your site
- The Call to Action on the banner
- The easy breakdown of your products or services on the home page
- Using each page on your site to talk clearly about one specific aspect of your business
- Providing the answers to the questions you think your visitor will have (products, prices, testimonials, contact info)
Visit your site as if you’re a potential client to your business (or better yet, ask someone else to do it for you), and see if it’s easy to find the buried treasure. If not, you might need to do some tweaking.
People love what you do, right? So don’t be shy about getting that feedback and using it to promote yourself.
There are a number of ways you can integrate testimonials into your site:
- An entire page dedicated to testimonials
- Snippets or quotes next to the product or service you are offering
- One section of a longer introductory page
- Some combination of all of the above
However you choose to integrate them, make sure you get them up on your site. Knowing that you have happy customers and clients can give your visitors confidence that you are the best business for their needs.
If you can get permission, use photos of actual people. It adds a touch of authenticity. And if you work with big name clients, make that clear!
5. Contact information
Whether it’s as simple as an email address or phone number, or a whole form asking for key details to enable you to follow up, make sure you are easily contactable.
A ‘Contact’ page is obviously essential, but also have your details in the header and footer of the site. That way, no matter where your visitor is on their journey through your website, they can contact you as impulsively and quickly as they like.