A great website is a combination of art, design, and technology. Many sites excel at one or two of these aspects and do their best at the other. So what are the essentials when it comes to a great site? We put together a list of 10 “Must Haves” for a great website that we incorporate into all of the sites we build.
The First Five
The first five on our list (that are in no particular order) all focus on the aesthetics of your site. In other words, how your site is seen by your visitors and how they interact with it.
Great Color Scheme and Images
The colors chosen for your site should complement your logo and each other. Anything too opposing or flashy will turn the visitor off. We have all visited a site that made us cringe when looking at it!
Quality photographs and videos are a huge draw and speak volumes to your visitors without typing a word. Investing in professional photography and videography or stock photos will show quality and integrity to your visitors. At the very least be sure to get great lighting and neutral backgrounds for images you take yourself.
The content shared on your site needs to be concise and of great quality. The fonts must be easy to read on both a computer and mobile device. Typos, incorrect grammar usage, and misspelled words are not acceptable! Take some time to really think about what your audience needs to know and find the best way to communicate that.
For more tips on writing quality content for your site, visit Tips for Writing Content on Your Website.
Every site needs to have an obvious and simple way for your visitors to get in touch with you! Most have a “Contact Us” page built-in, but at minimum, your address, phone, email and any other way of contacting you needs to be easily found. If a visitor has to hunt too long to get in touch with you, they may forfeit altogether. That means you lost a potential sale or contact!
Oh, and if you have not already set up a system for email marketing, you can learn all about it on our post here.
Links to Social Media
Every business should consider being active on at least one social media platform and these links should be on your website. Make sure they are working and that they can be seen easily by visitors. Be sure to share quality content on your social media also. For tips on what to post click here. Not sure where to start or need help producing consistent content – we can help with that!
Blogs are a perfect way to add more detailed content to your site and connect with your visitors. You can share news, special events, product information, event details, and highlights without overwhelming the core content on your site. These blog posts also provide content for your social media pages. Check out this blog where we shared all the reasons we encourage a blog on your website.
Did you know we help many of our clients out by writing blog posts for them that they can then add on their website? Consistent, quality blogs focused on specific keywords can add into your search engine optimization strategy too. All things we can help out with!
The Technical 5
Now that you have the aesthetics down, let’s take a look at the technical aspects of a great website. I know back in 2008 when I built my photography website using a template, it checked all the boxes for the aesthetics but these important back-end settings were incorporated minimally or not at all! Knowing what I know now, I realize how important these settings are for a great website! These technical aspects are a few of the many reasons it is important who you choose for website building or if you decide to do it yourself!
Strong Hosting and Fast Page Load Speed
When building a website, the domain name is the address of your website and the hosting is the “land” which your site lives on the world wide web. Making sure this land (your host company) is strong is essential. We love WP Engine and host all of our sites on their platform. We charge the same for this service as if you bought it straight from them plus we add in manual weekly plugin and theme updates as a value added service.
Brian shared all the technical details about why your host site matters in this blog. Your website host should be able to handle large traffic without being overwhelmed or crashing.
In addition to being able to handle large volumes of traffic, the speed at which your site loads is very important. No one wants to sit and wait for images or content to load when visiting your site. Optimizing the images on your page will help with this, but nothing beats a great host for ensuring the site loads quickly and flawlessly!
When making updates to your site, accidents can happen. Software and plugin updates can cause glitches and perhaps even for things to break. Having a backup regularly completed on your site ensures that when Murphy’s Law happens, you have not lost your beautiful site (and all that work) entirely. Our websites are backed up daily and we keep more than a month’s worth of backups at a time!
A Valid Security Certificate
We have all visited a website only to find the dreaded message “This site is not secure” pop up. Making sure that your security certificate stays up to date gives shopping confidence to your visitors, ensures you don’t lose any potential visitors, and gives peace to those knowing they are not visiting a sketchy website.
Headings in Content and Alt Text on Images
The headings that you see when visiting a website are for more than just organizing your content. They play a special role in search engine optimization. When a search engine such as Google scans your site, they look for specific heading labeled H1, H2, H3, etc. This allows them to understand what your site is about and match it to search queries. These headings need to be applied on each page of your site to make sure the page is “speaking” to the search engines! To learn more about writing content with SEO in mind, check out our blog post here.
“Alt Text” is a description of what the images are on your website. They are not seen by a visitor but meant to be read aloud for those with low vision needs. Having alt text in place for each image on your site is a big boost to search engines.
In today’s day and age, if your website is not formatted to be viewed on a phone or tablet, your traffic will suffer. If you have ever visited a page on your mobile device that is not adjusted for the smaller screens, then you know how difficult it is to read and find what you are looking for. When we build a website, we first build the desktop version then adjust that view for both tablets and phones (and the many different screen ratios) to make sure any visitor, no matter their device, gets the best experience possible.
For more information on mobile responsiveness, check out our blog here.
There you have it-our 10 “must-haves” for a great website! We would love to work with you on your site to make sure it is the best it can be. Give us a call, stop by the office, or send us an email and let’s get the conversation started!