Every business, no matter how small, needs a website nowadays. Your website is your digital shopfront, showcasing what you sell and directing people quickly and smoothly towards a purchase.
Your website needs to look good, but even more importantly, it needs to work towards your business’s specific goals. Whether you’re looking to sell products directly online or drive footfall to your store, your site has to make that process as easy and intuitive as possible for the customer.
This checklist of essential website features will help you build an elegant website geared to your objectives to deliver the best experience for your customers and the best results for your business.
Your header is the first thing people will see when visiting your site, so you need to get it right.
We suggest your header remains static, meaning that it remains in the same place, even as a user scrolls down the rest of the page - this way your core branding, calls to action and most useful information is always available at a glance.
Your header should contain these elements: your logo (which, when clicked, brings the user back to the homepage), a navigation menu that sorts the most essential pages of your site by category (Services/Products, Contact Us etc), and a prominently displayed phone number that, when clicked on a mobile device, automatically begins a call.
Your header should also contain a Call to action (CTA). This will normally take the form of a clickable button with a particular command (‘Tell Me More’, ‘Buy Now’ etc) that takes a user towards the next stage in their buying journey. In your header, this could be something like ‘Get In Touch’ or ‘Call Now’.
But your header isn’t the only place your CTAs should appear. You should aim to feature one CTA per page at least, so that customers never have to stall on the way to a purchase. Make sure they’re above the fold of the page - immediately visible without having to scroll down.
At the bottom of each page you’ll find your footer. This is a great place to include your contact details, a secondary navigation menu of pages you don’t need to link to in the top menu (such as your FAQs or Terms & Conditions), and a set of icon buttons linking to your social media profiles.
People need a way to quickly sift through your website to find the content they’re looking for, and there’s no better way to find information than a search bar! Better still, you’ll be able to monitor those searches yourself to spot patterns in what people want to find, which you can then cater for in future updates to your content.
Your developer should be able to install this quickly, though if you’d rather do it yourself, Google’s advice here should help.
Since the EU’s GDPR regulations came into force in May 2018, every website must ask its users to consent to their data being collected. This is a legal requirement, but it’s easy to implement with a simple pop-up form.
This is where you tell your business’s own unique story and set out your mission statement. Naturally, it allows you greater room for creativity than the more technical sides of your website. Check out these examples of great About Us pages for inspiration.
This is where you showcase what it is you sell. Include a brief, informative summary of each product or service and remember to include a relevant CTA that takes visitors further towards the final purchase.
People like to see that other people can vouch for what they’re planning to buy. Dedicate a page to positive customer reviews and link to it in your navigation menu. Your sales figures will thank you later.
Your contact page does what it says on the tin, giving people a quick and easy way to get in touch with you.
Include your number, contact email address, phone number, location (preferably marked on an embedded Google Map). Consider installing a form which lets people quickly enter and send you their name, email address and message.
Content marketing really works, so dedicate a section of your site to regular and informative updates from your business.
Every offer, marketing drive and promotion you run needs its own discrete landing page, separate from the main body of your website but easily linkable to, allowing customers to quickly fulfill the particular goal at hand and submit their contact details in return for something valuable.
Now that 52% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, you’ll quickly lose potential customers if your site isn’t built to work on smartphones. Use these 5 tips to help you build a responsive site your customers will love.
Your site needs to be visible on search engines to potential customers looking for what you sell. This means your site needs proper SEO (search engine optimisation) to make your site appear prominently in the results for keywords that you know your target audience are searching for.
This is a large and tricky subject, so we recommend reading through this starter guide here.
If your page takes over 3 seconds to load, over half of your visitors will give up and leave it. Fast loading speed isn’t just essential to your conversion rate, it also helps your page rank higher in Google’s search results.
You need a way to measure how many people are coming to your site, where they’re coming from and whether they’re taking the right actions, so make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your site.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption is a security must-have for websites these days, particularly if you sell products via your website and have a responsibility to protect your customers’ data
Google’s Chrome browser has now started flagging websites without SSL encryption as ‘not secure’ and stopping users reaching them, so if you don’t want your traffic to fall off a cliff, it’s time to look into getting it installed!
This checklist isn’t exhaustive, and there are lots more website features you could benefit from, but without these 17 features your website definitely won’t be able to make good on your business’s potential.
Our digital experts can build you a fully responsive, fully functional website incorporating all these features and more, built to the latest in best practice guidelines and specially designed to work to your business’s objectives.
Want to know more about building a great website? Check out these articles from our archives: