What makes a great website?
Think about the last time you have visited a website that had left an impression on you.
What differentiated that website from the rest? Was it the design? Was it the content?
This article will detail what the best websites have in common.
Websites serve many purposes. If you want a great website, you must know its purpose. Every business unique. They all have unique needs and goals. As a result, your website must be unique to your business.
How will your website align with your business goals?
Here are some of the most common purposes for a website:
- To establish credibility.
- Generate leads.
- Provide customer service.
- Training or Education.
Not only that your website must have a purpose, but each of the pages within your site must service a purpose.
Before you start designing your website, determine the purpose of your website.
Your website is what creates the first impression about your business. Your website must be professional and visually pleasant.
To create the right appearance, you must know your target audience.
A law firm’s website should have a very different appearance from a wedding band’s website.
If your website has a professional design, it will create a great impression.
Here are some of the key elements of great website appearance:
- Great images. Images are the first website elements people see. Not any image will do. The best websites contain carefully selected images. Avoid stock photos, if you want to differentiate your website.
- Proper color. The best websites have 2-3 colors. Some of the most popular website colors are blue, gray, and white.
- Easy to read text. You should consider the font type, font color, and background color. The easiest text to read is black text on a white background. The font size should be 12 pts.
- Less is more. Literally, simple websites are the best. Cluttered websites hurt conversions. Too many options will distract visitors.
The better the navigation the easier it is for visitors to use your website. It can be tempting to create a complex navigation. The problem with a complex navigation is that it frustrates site visitors.
Visitors should be able to find what they are looking for with three clicks.
Include a website search window to help visitors quickly find what they are looking for.
The right color scheme results in a visually impactful website.
The safest color for a website is blue.
Both men and women love the color blue. Another safe color for websites is green.
If your website targets men, minimize purple, brown, and orange. Men prefer blue, green and black.
Red and orange are great colors for buttons. You have probably noticed that the add to cart button is orange on amazon.com. You know that Amazon arrived at that color after extensive testing, to maximize website conversion rates.
Black is a great website color for luxury brands. We associate luxury with the black color.
Your website call-to-action should use a vibrant color such as pink, red, orange or yellow.
White is one of the most effective colors, to highlight an area of the web page.
The best websites have credible original content in a variety of forms.
Regardless of your target audience, your website must include great content.
Great content is the ultimate website differentiator.
You need the following for great website content:
- Original – If you want great website content, you have to keep it original.
- Answer – The best website content answers a question. What questions do your customers have? Make sure that your content answers those questions.
- Credibility – Your content has to be true. You have to show your sources. Prove your points and arguments.
- Authority – Your content should be supported by experts.
- Value – Great content is valuable. Website visitors come to a website for its content. Before you publish website content, make sure it provides value to the visitor.
- Timely – Even the best website content can be outdated. If you had published an article two years ago, it is time to update it. Go back and refresh old content.
- Headline – The headline is what pushes website visitors to begin reading your web page. Create strong headlines. If your headlines are poorly written, people will not read your content.
- Actionable – The best website content is actionable. The website content should include practical advice. Give readers a chance to use the content immediately.
- Provocative – Challenge the reader with your ideas. Leave your readers with questions.
- Story – The best content includes a story. Can you start out by sharing a short story?
- Image – include strong images to tell a better story. If you can, include original images. Avoid stock photos.
- Video – Video is one of the most popular website content. Include videos to support your story.
- Simple – Use simple language. The best website content is easy to read. The complexity of your writing should be no higher than 9th-grade reading level.
An image can say more in a blink of an eye than a hundred words. Images have the power to wow visitors. It is key to have the right images for your website.
The right website images include the following:
- Use high-resolution images.
- The image should be large enough to make an impact. There is no standard pixel size for the right image. What is important that the image has to fit within the design.
- Your images must be relevant to the web page content.
- Combine images with a call to action. If you have an image of a product, include a call to action with the price.
- The image has to push the website visitor to spend more time on the web page.
- Use unique images to differentiate your business. Avoid stock photos, to build credibility.
- Let the image do the talking. If you are a web designer, show websites. If you are a builder, show homes and buildings.
- A great image triggers emotion.
Only include website features that work. Every part of your website must work. If you have a live chat feature, and it’s offline, it will hurt your website conversion rate.
Broken links or poorly programmed website features will drive people away.
Everything must work as expected from your links, contact forms, web pages, site search, email subscription buttons, and so on.
Keep your website copy free of spelling and grammatical errors. Proofread all of your website content. Also, ask a third party to proofread your entire website. Mistakes destroy credibility fast.
Website usability has to do with navigation, content, layout, and overall feel.
Here is what makes for excellent usability:
- Good organization. It is not enough to have excellent website content, it has to be organized in a way that makes it easy to consume.
- The most important information should be above the fold. Don’t ask people to scroll to find the most important information on the page. The most important information should be above the fold. Supporting information can be displayed below the fold.
- The speed of page load. A web page should load in a few seconds. If you can keep it around 2 seconds, you are doing well.
- Maintain a design flow throughout the website. The best websites have two main designs. The first is the homepage design. The second is the design of the inner pages. If every page looks different, you confuse the visitors. The result is a lower website conversion rate.
- Keep the site navigation intuitive. If people have to think about using your navigation, they will less likely use it.
Use the appropriate anchor text for your internal links.
- Test your website with all the major browsers.
- Make sure that your website works well on mobile devices.
It takes a great web designer to include whitespace within a website. Whitespace is not empty space.
There are several reasons to use whitespace in your website:
- Whitespace improves the readability of your website.
- Whitespace helps to emphasize an area.
- It is great to include whitespace around a call to action.
- Whitespace balances the design of your web page.
- It makes for a great content separator.
One of the top priority for any business website is to build credibility. Website visitors look for certain parts to determine the credibility of your website.
Here is how you can boost the credibility of your website:
- Have a professionally designed website. Just because you are proud to have designed your own website, it doesn’t mean that it reflects positively on your business. Hire a professional web designer.
- Show your contact information. The best place to list your phone number is in the header area. Also show your address in the footer area. That way, your contact information is visible on each web page.
- Have multiple options for people to contact you. At least include your phone numbers, email contact form, mailing address, and social network links.
- Show customer testimonials. Customer believes customers. Ask for testimonials every chance you get.
- Display customer logos. To show your client list is a great credibility builder.
- Create an exceptional “About” page. The “About” page is what shows the details about your business. The best “About” pages include staff photos and stories about the company and its customers.
- Show real photos. Many websites only include stock photos. To use stock photos is just another form of laziness. If you think your company is unique, use your own photos.
- Don’t use superlatives. If you think you are the best web designer, show evidence that you are. Don’t just say “The best web designer in San Diego.”
- Show prices. Be upfront about how much you charge.
- Display your awards and accolades.
- Link to external websites that is relevant to your niche.
Search engine optimization is the best way to drive free traffic to your website. Yet, most businesses ignore SEO. There are no secrets to SEO. It takes systematic steps to improve the SEO of your website.
Here is what you need for effective SEO:
- Identify your target keywords.
- Make a list of your target keywords.
- Create at least one web page for each keyword.
- Optimize each web page for a unique keyword.
- Create a unique page title for each page.
- Build links to your website.
CALL TO ACTION
No web page is complete without a CTA (Call To Action). The CTA is what converts a website visitors into a prospect, lead, or customer. The CTA is one of the most important parts of any website.
Here are a few of the most common examples of CTAs:
- Buy Now!
- Call Now!
- Try Now!
Here is what makes an effective CTA:
- Give exact instructions. If you want people to call you, say it exactly. “Call now!” If you want website visitors to subscribe to your email list, spell it out. “Subscribe to our email list now!”
- Make sure that the CTA is loud. Let it stand out. For people to take action, you have to get their attention. Use colors that stand out.
- Position the CTA to show above the fold.
- Give people a reason to take action. It is not enough to ask people to do something. You have to give people a reason to do it. Don’t just ask people to sign up for your newsletter. Give people a reason to want to subscribe to your email list.
- Create a sense of urgency. Use words like, “limited time offer”,”one time only” or something similar.
If your website is slow, it will drive people away. If your website takes longer than 2-3 seconds to load, your conversion rate will suffer.
There are many ways to improve the speed of your website. Here are a few:
- Use a high-performance website host. Most people sign up for the cheapest hosting accounts. They think that hosting is a commodity. The lowest priced website hosts are going to hurt your business. You will lose big money to save pennies.
- Optimize the size of your images.
- If your website is running WordPress, minimize the number of plugins.
- Optimize your databases.
- Use a caching plugin for WordPress.
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
If you have an older website, you must create a new mobile-optimized design. The web design industry calls mobile-optimized websites, responsive. Because responsive websites “respond” the size of the display. The result is that your website will work on a small screen such as a mobile phone or a large desktop screen.
You have done all this work to create a new website design. You have spent countless hours creating outstanding website content.
Social sharing enables website visitors to share your website with their friends and connections.
Each web page should include social sharing buttons, including your homepage, inner pages, and blog posts. Adding these buttons to your website extends your reach.
The tweet this call to action, the Facebook like button, and the LinkedIn share button are just a few of the most popular social share options.