When working with small businesses on their websites and their online marketing & business strategies, a few good ones always end up asking … what should a website include? It's a great question … but one that way too many business owners and marketing managers neglect to ask. Instead of asking what should a website include, most people as questions like …
- How do I make more money with my website?
- How do I make more sales on my website?
- How do I get a website as cheap as possible?
The reality that a good website will be a major investment … just like any significant portion of your business will be. And, the reason that a good website will require an investment is because there are several important factors that a good website needs to have in order to achieve its goal … which is to make you more sales and more money.
So, what should a website include?
1. A Clearly Defined Goal or Purpose
It is important that you clearly understand (and tell your web designer) exactly what the main purpose of your website is. Will it be used to capture sales leads for you to follow up with? Will it direct visitors to fill out a contact / quote form, call you or visit your brick n mortar location? Will it be used to make online sales right on the website through a shopping cart system?
Until you know exactly what you want your website to do, there is no way to ensure that the site is designed and developed to generate the maximum results.
2. Visually Applying Design
This may be one of the most overstated (and over emphasized) aspects of good website design & development, it is still very important that your company's website has a solid, visually stimulating design. Your website is nothing more (or less) than an extension of your business. That's why it is imperative that your website present your company in a professional manner that instills confidence in your prospects and customers … and builds the trust within them that they need in order to give you their money.
3. Easy-To-Navigate Front End
It does not matter how great your website looks … or how many people find it every single day. If your site's visitors can not easily (and quickly) find exactly what they are looking for … they will leave almost immediately. The truth is that you have about 7 seconds to get their attention … and show them the way to information, products or services that they came looking for in the first place. After that, it must be simple for them to move from service-to-service, product-to-product or go from home page to checkout with as few steps (clicks) as possible.
4. Easy-To-Manage Back-End
One of the biggest problems that small businesses face with their websites is not being able to manage, edit and update them on their own. With a typical site (built with just HTML, PHP & CSS), it is extremely difficult for a non-web person to make changes because the site is built using code. By building your site with a CMS (Content Management System) anyone (even people who have never even looked at website coding language) can make changes to the content of a website, add new pages and even upload new images and videos. This way, you do not have to wait days (even weeks) for your webmaster to respond (let alone get your changes made) – remember, just like you, web masters take vacations.
5. Lead Capture & Sales Funnel
The purpose of your website (I am assuming) is to make you money. Whether you need leads, online sales, or anything else to get money from your customers, it is obviously important that your website provide a simple way to capture sales leads (name, email, phone number, etc) or move your visitors from the entrance page (where they came into the site) to the products or services they need … to the checkout / quote request page. If you have not optimized this portion of your website, you are literally leaving thousands and thousands of dollars on the table.
6. Social Media Integration
Today, just having a website is not enough. There is a reason that the vast majority of big and small businesses are using social media campaigns as a marketing and promotion strategy for their business … and that reason is that the vast majority of your prospects and customers are using social media every single day when they are online (hours at a time). By integrating your social media (facebook, twitter, blogging, etc) into your website, you can easily move your visitors to and from your website and social media properties – this is a powerful strategy bringing them on a trip with you (taking them one place to another) which shortens the time it takes to build trust and rapport – and leads to faster sales … and more repeat customers.
7. Search Engine Optimization
What good is your website if no one can find it? More importantly, what good is your website if the right people can not find it … the people who are already online looking around for the goods and services that you provide? Having a search engine optimized website is the only way to ensure that your website is found on top of (or at least on) the front page of search engine results for your targeted keywords. And with more 80% of a websites traffic coming from search engines, this is one of the only ways to take advantage of the vast majority of prospects (and money) in your market.
8. Analytics & Tracking
Lastly, it is important that you understand how many people are visiting your website, how they are getting to your site … and more importantly, what they are doing when they get there. Do you know how many people stopped by your website today? Do you know how many pages they looked at? Do you know how many were repeat visitors and how many were new visitors? Do you know what keywords they used to find your site in the search engines … or which of your online marketing campaigns sent them there? All of these are extremely important in determining where to focus your marketing efforts and where you are getting the largest return on your investment.
That is a pretty in depth list of what a website should include. So, if you are one of the lucky (and very smart) business owners who's been asking what a website should include … you now have a good starting point. Take it, look at your current website and see where your site is doing good (and where it needs some work). If you do not have a website yet … make sure that the website designer you work with addresses all of these major concerns when designing and developing your website.