The 5 most important features on your website

Every business has a website. Few businesses have great websites. If you want your business to climb from average to good or from good to great, start by improving these 5 features.

1. Web Design

According to Lure Creative, Inc. a Kansas City web design firm, the central purpose of a website is to generate leads, promote your brand, attract your target audience, and inform visitors. Key design aspects include the following:

  • Colors. Colors should match the color scheme of your business and be consistent with your logo throughout all digital platforms. Keep colors neutral. They should not distract from the company message. Use subtle colors for background and more bold colors for calls-to-action and promotions.
  • Readability. White space plays a critical role in readability. White space does not have to be white. There just needs to be a balance between words on the page and open space. When done expertly, white space directs the reader's attention to where you want it to go. Don't get fancy with fonts. 
  • Responsiveness. Your website needs to respond to the website visitor's screen size. More than half of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. If your site is not mobile friendly, you will lose potential customers.
  • Speed. If your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, you're losing about 40% of your visitors. Good web design facilitates fast loading times.

2. Clear Focus

Why do you have a website? Answering this question requires more than a bland generalization. And if your intended website focus does not lead the website visitor step-by-step to your intended outcome, then it's not focused. A clearly focused website incorporates the following elements:

  • Good content. Good content provides value to your target audience. That's how you attract those looking for solutions to problems your products or services solve.
  • Professional copywriting. At some point you need visitors to take action. Good copy leads to high conversion rates.
  • Calls-to-action. A visitor comes to your site and finds valuable content. He or she wants to learn more but isn't sure what to do...until he or she spots your call-to-action. If you don't provide that call-to-action, your visitor will still take action, but it probably won't be on your website.
  • Sales funnels. Before you offer anything on your website you need to have a sales funnel in place. You need a plan for collecting qualified leads and nurturing those leads through valuable content.
  • Analytics. A clearly focused website takes actions and makes decisions based on data-driven analysis. You need a way to collect and analyze data.
  • Intentional Navigation and Site Structure
  • If users can't find their way around your site, they will leave. There are too many online options for frustrated users to stick around. Good navigation includes the following:
  • Menus and labels. Make your menus and labels clear so users know exactly where they are going when they click. Keep the text simple and clear. Make menus and buttons easy to find by putting them where visitors would expect to see them. Include the main menu on every page.
  • Other navigation features. For larger sites, include a site map, breadcrumbs, and sub-headings. Organize pages and sub-pages logically.
  • Categories. Not only will categories make navigation easier, it will encourage visitors to stick around. 
  • Search bar. When a visitor likes a site, but has yet to find an answer to a question, he or she will utilize a search bar. If that search bar belongs to your site instead of a search engine, you're one step closer to retaining a potential customer.

3. Customer Proof

You can brag all you want about how awesome your products and services are, but you have a clear conflict of interest. Those who don't make a profit from boasting about your product, however, have no reason to brag about you outside of the awesomeness of your products and services. Take a look at some third-party statistics for proof:

  • According to a 2013 B2B Content Marketing Trends report, 88% of business content marketers identified customer testimonials as the most effective content marketing strategy.
  • Photo and video testimonials attract three times as many inbound links as plain text.
  • According to Dimensional Research, 90% of survey respondents report that positive online reviews influence their buying decision.
  • Search Engine Land reports that 85% of consumers read at least 10 reviews before deciding if a business is good.

4. Search Engine Optimization

You could have the greatest website, the greatest content, and the greatest product in the history of the internet, but if nobody visits your site then your website is worthless--literally worthless. You must attract visitors. Here are suggestions:

  • Optimize website user experience. The above four features take care of this. Google rewards sites that provide a good experience.
  • Use the language of your target audience. Research what words and phrases your audience uses when searching for content.
  • Use 301 redirects when switching domains. Don't waste the authority previous efforts have built when you switch domains.
  • Don't cheat. Google knows all. Google knows when you're using underhanded techniques to boost search engine positioning. And Google will penalize you.

5. Good News and Bad News

The good news about improving these 5 essential website features is that anyone with a medium amount of technical knowledge can make these improvements. The bad news is it takes a lot of time and a bit of trial and error. And since most business owners don't have the time equivalent of another part-time job at their disposal, it makes sense to find an expert to handle it.