Sure, everybody likes a pretty website, but to be successful your site has to be more than that. Does your site have substance, for example? Does it draw new visitors? Will it boost your ranks in search engines? The fact is, there are many factors that go into good website design beyond fonts and layout. With that in mind, here’s a look at what goes into a fully functioning, well-constructed website, starting from the ground up.
1. Goal-Driven Design: A successful website begins with clear goals — only when you know what you need your site to do can you know whether or not it’s accomplishing that. For an e-commerce site, you might be aiming to generate XX dollars in sales per month. For a banking website, you might want customers to set up new accounts. As a local bakery, your website’s chief purpose could be showing prospects how to find you. You will likely have overarching goals and subgoals, but knowing what you’re working towards is crucial in making your website as functional as possible. Your Chicago restaurant could have the prettiest blog design on the Internet, but if it doesn’t tell locals where you are or why they want your pizza, it’s not working well.
2. Strong SEO: Nobody cares how pretty your website is when nobody can find it. That’s why search engine optimization is so crucial — it’s how you get your website found. Search engine optimization is all about using proven techniques and strategies in order to build your site’s authority in the eyes of search engines. That way, when someone looks for “affordable lawn mowers,” your landscaping store’s website is the place they find.
3. Relevant Content: Even a beautiful logo can’t hide the fact that a site lacks substance. When all your articles are filler content and all your webpages repeat the same generic things, your readers will lose interest fast. According to Entrepreneur, 73% of people prefer to get information about a company through articles instead of ads — so your content truly does matter. Instead of spending all your energy making your site slick and attractive, don’t forget to invest in the actual message it’s sending.
4. Clear Calls to Action: You know the old saying, “If you want something, you have to ask for it.” That’s the name of the game with websites. If you want your readers to sign up for your newsletter, you have to ask (or encourage) them: “Sign up here!” If you want prospects to call you, you have to say so: “Call us today!” Whether you want visitors to buy something or download a PDF or come to your shop, say so — clearly and directly — in order to improve results.
5. Usability: If your site makes it hard for visitors to find information, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is. People want to find what they’re looking for — and they want to find it fast. Your site needs to make it easy to move from one page to another with clear navigational, backtracking and interlinking features. Its structure should be clear and easy to follow so users have no trouble finding what they need. Likewise, fonts should be readable, links should work, downloads should be quick, and there should be an obvious search bar that visitors can turn to when they still can’t find what they need.
Based on these five qualifications, how does your website stack up? Is it functioning well, or is it just another pretty face? What can you do today to improve its results?