What should my website have in it?
A Simple, Strong Design
An appealing design is vital. If your design is not visually pleasing your visitors will hit the back button instantaneously.
That’s not to say that every top website needs to be a work of art from visual design perspective, but if your site looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1990, it’s not going to be associated with other great websites.
When it comes to design, a clean, simple design is all that is necessary. With website design, sometimes more is less. You don’t want your website design to be too busy or crowded. You just want it to look good so it can stand out from your competitor(s) in the minds of your potential clients.
Just like when meeting someone for the first time, the first impression people take away from your website is key. Although good design alone will not keep someone on your site — a simple, eye-catching design will, at the very least, capture their attention long enough so that they will take a look around.
A good design alone isn't enough to keep a visitor on your website. A good user interface with intuitive navigation is vital. The user interface is the foundation of any good functional website. When designing a site, you’ll need to take into consideration your average visitor. Think about who your customers are. Are they tech-savy? Are they computer illiterate, old, young?
When designing a website it is important to think about who will be visiting your site and so that when you are planning the design you design it with that type of visitor in mind. Be sure your website offers everything your visitor would want to find before buying from you or becoming a subscriber.
Regardless of how computer savvy your visitors are, simple, logical navigation that is easy to spot and is consistent throughout the entire website is a must. Never allow a visitor to wonder where they should click both in terms of your primary navigation and links within your content areas.
An easy to navigate website must have the primary means of navigation (links to the key content areas of your site) above the fold. "Above the fold" refers to the area that is seen on a monitor before having to scroll. With today’s large computer monitors and growing screen resolutions “above the fold” is generally considered to be within the top 500-600 pixels of your site design.
Here is an example of a typical website's navigation – - – “Home | About | Services | FAQ | Contact. ” Navigation is typically placed in a very easy-to-find location at the top of your site or in the left or right column.
Make sure that you navigation is consistent and that it is present and in the same place on each page of your site so that your visitor is always given the option of finding other pages in your site.
If your page content is lengthy duplicating your navigation links in your footer will be helpful to your visitor. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find the content they are looking for on your site. The footer might also link to additional information such as Terms of Service, Privacy, etc. The footer should be used for thing that should be easy to find, but not necessarily something you want taking up real estate on the primary navigation area of the site.
Interesting and Relevant Content
I'm sure you've heard the saying… “Content is King.” Regardless of how pretty your website is and how much it may catch someone’s eye, if the content is no good, it's a safe bet your visitors aren’t going to stick around.
When writing copy for your website, it’s important to provide helpful, knowledgeable information about your company, products, services, etc. You must keep your target in mind. Often we get so wrapped up in our business that we forget that we know things about our business that the average person (our customers/clients) don't know. Being explicit and explain your products and services assuming that the reader knows nothing about your business. If you’re running a blog, informative articles related to your area of expertise are incredibly helpful.
While it’s important to sell yourself or your company, you also don’t want to oversell especially in a blog setting. When people are reading a blog they want to know how you can help them.
People are curious and they want to know who is behind a company or a blog. Adding photo to your about page creates a connection. People like to know who they are working with/interacting with. Ask yourself if you'd click on the "About" page before considering doing business a designer, writer, contractor, plumber, etc.
Include information on your background and how it pertains to your own business and expertise, etc. The about page gives potential clients a little bit more information about you and can often help create a more personal bond.
More often than not, a potential client will select the company with a “real” person behind it, rather than the faceless organization.
Nothing can turn off a prospective client more than not being able to find a way to contact you. If they’re interested in your services, and can’t quickly and easily find a simple contact page with a way to get in touch and hire you, they’re going to end up clicking the back button and will likely end up with hiring your competition.
Ideally you’ll want to give more than one method of contact. At the very least an email address and contact form. To make you more “real” though you should try to include a phone number (and if possible a mailing address) as well. I know many freelancers work from a home office – as do I. A quick solution is to get a separate phone line for business calls, as well as either a PO Box or other mailing service address.
There are two kinds of sitemaps – one for humans and one for the search engines. An html (or php, etc.) sitemap meant for visitors to your site can be an invaluable tool for finding just what they are looking for.
Creating a sitemap – a structured list of all pages of a web site – is especially useful if you are unable to add a search feature to your site. A link to the sitemap is another item that is helpful to place down in the footer of your site, as well. A good sitemap will list out every page of your site in a hierarchial format – clearly showing the relationship of pages in terms of primary pages with sub-pages and sub-sub-pages, etc.