When you set out to build a new website, it would be great if there was a one size fits all plan to follow – there’s not. But there are a bunch elements common to many sites to possibly/probably include in yours, no matter what your website is for.
The Perfect Host
Think local – as using overseas hosting may slow your site, the signal has geographically further to go. It may also mean getting a slower response time from the host’s customer service team if you have any technical difficulties.
The Perfect Domain Name
A good domain name is the beginning of your branding. It’s also how people will find you and has lots of SEO benefits too.
Navigation: Easy-to-read, easy-to-use
Don’t sacrifice utility for fancy design. Slick design is great and we love it too! But it still must have such clear design that nobody will be left wondering how to get around your site. Another note on navigation, be just as brief as you can. The fewer words to use to point people in the direction they need to go, the better. Speak to your web developer about how you could best simplify your navigation.
Your Own Favicon
What’s a Favicon? It’s that tiny image that sits in the corner of your browser tab. At only 16 x 16 px, they are teeny-tiny, but can smarten up your site immensely. So what should it be? You might use your logo or a section of your logo. Keep it simple, really simple, 16 x 16 px is extremely small. But it can be another great opportunity to brand your site.
Make the trail to and from social media nice and clear. Ensure they appear on every page of your site. You want your site visitors to easily access your social media accounts so they can engage with you there. Some of the options for placement on your site include: header, navigation, footer and right/left column of internal pages. Plus investigate addons/pluggins that make your social icons float on the right or left of your site, regardless of where the users has scrolled to.
You might think this is an automatic inclusion with a website, but you may have to request it. Including social share buttons on selected pages in your site means people can easily share your site, your blog posts, etc with their social community. This is vital for blogs but also consider other pages which might lend themselves to social sharing, like About, Contact and Product pages.
I used to be a big supporter of clear and high quality images on websites. And don’t worry, I still am but I’m adding something else – beautiful images. Focusing on including beautiful images in your site is going to go a long way to showing how much you care about your business.
The size of images has changed tremendously partly because hosting is so much cheaper and internet speeds faster, so lovely large images are welcome in present day web design. But it’s also social media’s fault. Beautiful images are so prevalent on social media and statistics show that posts with great images do much better than posts without or posts with poor quality, dark images and this is true across all platforms (even Twitter, which was once so much about text only). At the same time, ensure your images are fast loading and are optimised for web. This is doubly important for viewing on a mobile.
If your website is not full of beautifully composed images where everything looks pristine, inviting and gorgeous, you’re letting the team down. Don’t let the team down!
Just as important as a good web design for viewing on a laptop/desktop, is viewing on a mobile device. Mobile and tablet use is so high that if you don’t have a responsive design, Google will actually bump you down their list! That’s pretty drastic. You won’t be friends with Google, but worse still, people will run from leave your site if they can’t read the text or navigate around with ease.
So in the website building process, don’t overlook responsive design. Find out more about responsive design in our post Responsive Web Design: What is it and do I need it?
About/Our Story Page
About pages are super important and a great opportunity to set the tone for your business and brand to your clients and site visitors. Show some personality, use a conversational tone, tell your brand story, why you care about your business, as well as the all important what it is you do. That’s a lot to pack into an about page, so at the same time as fleshing all those elements out, edit ruthlessly! You only need a paragraph or two. Distill your words right down, so that there is no waffle and every syllable has a clear purpose in getting your message across. You can also use some pictures that show a bit of your brand personality or some clever staff pics.
This almost goes without saying to include a contact page, but where will you put it?
Classically, the contact goes in the navigation along the top or side of your website and links to an internal page. But is that the only option? Try a link in the footer as well as the navigation. Or try omitting the separate page altogether, placing contact info in the footer or sidebar of your site.
How will you know which is best? It’ll depend on the design of your site; just make sure it’s nice and clear – you don’t want to put a road-block in front of people contacting you in order to do business with you!
Terms & Conditions
If you’re an eCommerce site, you must have terms and conditions. People need to know what they are signing up for when they buy from you.
Returns, Shipping, Currency
Again if your site is eCommerce, your clients need to know about your policies for shipping, returns and currency. In fact, if you don’t show all of this information, that might be a reason they leave your site and go looking elsewhere. Including this information in a straightforward way increases trust in your online store.
Subscriber Sign Up
I’ll keep gonging this bell forever! Your email list is one of your most valuable assets. It’s your own captive audience who’ve given you permission to send your information and promotions. A veritable goldmine. Take advantage of this oldie-but-a-goodie and proven form of online marketing and make your sign up form prominent on your site.
You might even consider a pop-up. I know people tend to dislike the idea of using popups on their sites, but statistics show that they are the most effective (but not only) way of getting sign-ups. If you’re down on the pop-up, try a full width bar across the top of your site or somewhere on your homepage. It actually pays to include it in a few places on your site, that way you’ve got a greater chance of sign-ups.
Don’t forget to offer an incentive for people to sign up. Try a giveaway they can’t resist or ongoing information they will want to receive. Be creative and understand what’s in it for subscribers. No one wants more emails unless they really see a benefit.
A good designer/developer can help you out with this. But this doesn’t only apply to the look of the site, but also to the quality and quantity of the content. Are your images of consistent quality and style? Is all of the copy written in the same tone (informal and formal on the same site)? Is there a lot of copy in one section of the site, while only sparse information on other pages? Does the content seem incomplete?
Avoid having any pages that say “coming soon”. These kinds of pages can sit for longer than we mean them to and it makes our websites look sleepy and unattended. Our advice is, either publish a page full of content or leave it off until it’s ready to fire on all cylinders.
Your new website is going to be a great point of contact between your business and your customer. It could open up more opportunities to make connections online and offline. Carefully planning what will be included and where it should go is vital to make sure you get everything out of your site that you can.
Chat to us about how we can build a website for you that will include all you need.