A successful website includes many things that must be set up correctly. It must have a professional design and good search optimization. It must also be informative and easy to use. Many websites fall short because they are built poorly and are missing important pieces. Here’s a list of 5 things that every website should include to make it more successful. These 5 “Must Haves” cover the range of categories from Search Optimization to Design and Ease of Use.
1. Get rid of the clutter. Every page should be simple to read. There are many websites that are full of clutter and are still very popular. News sites are very cluttered for example. They simply have a lot of content so they naturally appear overwhelming with all of the information they present. Even so, they can still do their best to organize that information in a way that is easy to navigate and easy to read. Simple websites are favored by visitors much more than complicated, sophisticated looking websites.
2. Fill your website with good content. This is almost the opposite of the first item. However, there is a difference between a nice simple looking website with good content and a nice simple looking website that has no content. Often times a business owner has trouble thinking of things to add to his or her website. Generating website content takes work and is not always a simple task, but it must be done.
Website content should consist of relevant pictures, text, and links. Above all, website content should be what the website visitor is looking for. It must provide value to the website visitor. Good website content also helps give search engines more information which helps the website rank higher in search results.
3. Contact Information. Most websites have a contact page that contains the owners name, address, and phone numbers. They often include a contact form as well. Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you. An embedded Google map is also an excellent item to include on a contact page.
Contact information should also be included on every page, not just the contact page. This information can be in the website footer, or the sidebar. If you depend on people calling you must make it very easy to see the phone number. Make the phone number large so it stands out. Include it in as many places as possible.
4. Clear Navigation. A good website is easy to navigate. A good website makes it easy for people to find content they are looking for. And of course if that content is good content that is what the reader is looking for that’s great!
Clear navigation is a result of careful planning and categorizing of website content. The main menu should categorize the main functionality. Sub pages, or categories in any form, that are one level below the pages should categorize the information. For example a dentist might have sub categories consisting of the various services offered.
Another item that falls into the Clear Navigation subject is search. If you’re going to have a lot of information on your website you will need a search box. Visitors may want to search for older information that is not easily accessible on the main pages.
5. Search Optimization. Often called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. Websites should be created with meaningful titles on pages and paragraphs. Each website page title should be unique and accurately describe the contents of the page. Images should be included and labeled with html alt tags. Hyperlinks should be used to point to other pages within the same website as well as to other websites that are relevant and useful to the visitor.
These 5 “must have” items are just the basics. Start with these things and you’ll be on the right track. There’s much more to a successful website, but every successful website includes these 5 items. Remember to promote your website both online and offline. Promote it online by including your website URL in business directory listings and social media. Don’t forget to include it in the signature area of your emails. Promote it offline by including the website URL in promotional materials and business cards.