Elements of a successful business website
In order to be successful a business needs certain elements to be successful. For most, success is measured in different ways but the aim of this articles is to help you improve the user experience to generate more leads and ultimately sales.
Write for people, Not search engines
People are always trying to push SEO optimisation as an ongoing practice of your website, however it isn't always the best thing to do. As SEO changes every year it can be very difficult to keep up, which is why the best advice is to write for people, not search engines. If you end up ranking high, but don't have human readable content you will see your bounce rate skyrocket. A better outcome would be to have fewer visitors and as your content is easier to read they would bookmark you, subscribe to your feed or contact you for more information.
In this day and age it should go without saying that every website needs to be responsive (Unless your business model has an app, which is a different topic entirely). There are still hundreds, if not thousands of sites out there which aren't responsive and losing companies good business.
Not having a mobile friendly site will lose you business, and with mobile and tablet usage passing desktop usage there really is no excuse.
It's surprising how many websites have inconsistent colours. A good set of brand guidelines with have one primary colour and one or two secondary colours. Use one colour to highlight call to action buttons or links in order to help move the user forward towards your goal - A download, a signup, a purchase etc. Use a secondary colour for buttons and links that take users off on a detour such as the view the basket (As opposed to going directly to the checkout on an ecommerce site), view more information about a product etc.
Use these colours to your advantage by catching the users eye and moving them to where they need to go around the site.
Tell your story
Nobody will buy something from you if they don't trust you a telling the story of how you got where you were can really help you connect with your audience. Adding images of yourself or your team will also help in making that connection with real people.
Use your social accounts to boost your traffic and show how many people are interested in your business. However if you choose this route be careful on the implementation. It can seem all well and good to add a social share widget to your site, but it can have adverse affects depending on the placement. Focus on share buttons only on articles or pages with useful information. Many sites add a widget globally and it shows only a few people (or worse, no people) have shared your homepage. It will give the impression you're either a new company or nobody is willing to share your work. Either way this can cause potential customers to rethink their decision to continue on your site.
Your social accounts should also be active as well. A potential customer will be put off if they click through to your Twitter account only to find your last post was back in 2012.
Ratings and reviews
Aside from the social proof you receive through social media, ratings on third party websites can have an impact on how a potential customer will feel. Many people read online reviews for local businesses and can sometimes be a deciding factor in their choice to do business with you. As you get more and more reviews from past clients there will become one of the leading sources that makes or breaks a sale.
Incorporate a space on your site to display your reviews from an external source to show what customers are saying about you. Of course you want to make sure the reviews are generally positive before you do this.
Make it Visually Appealing
Customers will interact with a site that is well designed and not filled with clutter. Keep this in mind when designing a site as you want to maximise the access and readability of your content and your ultimate sale goal. Impressive images and video (Not stock!) will provide a far better experience to the user and differentiate your business from competitors.
A business website may have many pages to get across information to a customer but a lot of it is irrelevant. The primary navigation in the header should focus on a top level summary of your company, what you are selling and how can someone make a purchase. Any other pages such as support material or secondary products/services should still be accessible to the user, however the footer is a better location for this to avoid clutter.
Make Purchasing Easy
Selling your products or services should be high priority. If you do this through a third party such as Amazon or Ebay this creates extra steps for the user. Making it easier to make a purchase will see a decrease in the dropoff rate and more sales. Incorporating ecommerce functionality into your site and accepting payment will create less steps and ultimately more purchases.
Freshness and Relevance
Having a constantly updated website will show customers you are still active and serious about your business. The majority of pages on your site wont need updating on a regular basis but there might be some locations, such as a blog, which need it.
Use the blog to post information about your products, what's going on in your industry or any special offers you might have coming up. This will not only draw users in but assist in adding more of your pages to the search engine index.
Track Your Users
Most websites don't pay that much attention to tracking visitors. They usually install a script and never do anything about it. Tracking the conversions will help you implement a successful website. You can't launch your site and expect everything to just work. Check how users interact with the site, what pages they land on and what pages they go to. Use this information to make positive changes to your most popular pages to decrease the bounce rate.