But often we find that business websites are lacking some of the essentials that every single one needs.
There are some basic questions that every business owner needs to ask themselves when putting their website together. These are questions like:
Why do I need a website?
What information do visitors need to know?
What will website visitors look for?
How can my website make a good impression, and make it easy for people to buy from me?
Here’s our checklist of essentials that we reckon every business website should include.
1. Contact details
The most important essential, but so often overlooked. Website visitors will often try to find your website so they can find your phone number or your physical address.
At a minimum you need address, phone number and email address. Make these details easy to find – think about making the ‘contact us’ page one of the most obvious. Put your phone number big and bold on every page – top right hand corner is most common.
Having a map of where you are:
*adds a reassurance to your website visitors that you actually exist.
*makes it easy for them to find you.
Here’s a tutorial on how to add a Google map to your website.
3. A ‘contact us’ lead capture form
Many website visitors want to know more about your products and services, but won’t feel like giving you a call. This might be because it’s out of hours, they’re busy doing something else, or they don’t want direct contact. This means that you need a lead capture form.
Having a lead capture form also allows you to give them more information when it’s convenient for you,
4. Photos of you
This is great way to add reassurance about who your website visitors are dealing with. Having a photo jump-starts a personal relationship between you and your website visitors, and boosts the likelihood that the visitor will want to get in touch.
5. Newsletter Sign up
Many website visitors are in a ‘research’ phase of the buying cycle. They’re not ready to phone you or start buying just yet, but still want more information.
A newsletter allows you to start warming up your relationship before they’re ready to buy. Website visitors get the chance to ‘taste’ your service before they actually commit to buying.
As a consequence, a weekly or monthly newsletter can be the biggest source of new leads for your website.
A blog is a half way house between your website and a newsletter. It lets you add personality to your website, and starts an open conversation with your visitors. You can use it to showcase your knowledge & products.
Another real advantage of a blog is that it lets you add fresh content to your website, something that Google really likes to see. This can help boost you up the search engine results pages for searches that are relevant to you. For further advice with SEO read our Search Engine Optimisation Guide.
7. Customer reviews and testimonials
One of the most convincing ways to sell your products is by having other customers recommend them. As we’ve mentioned in our Social Media Strategy posts, good customer reviews are an important way to boost sales.
I know that you’re hardly likely to publish reviews and testimonials that show you in a poor light. But if you can get some genuine comments from a real people, and they don’t mind you publishing their contact details, then those comments go a long way to reassure others that it’s a good idea to buy from you.
8. Email to a friend
One of the very first ‘social media’ applications, ‘email to a friend’ is now often overlooked
The best way to convince someone to buy from you is by having someone else recommend your products. An ‘email to a friend’ links on your website does just this.
Here’s a video tutorial on how to add the ‘email to a friend’ application.
9. Social book marking buttons
A more modern social media service, bookmarking buttons often run on the bottom or side of web pages accompanied with a message like ‘share this’, or ‘add this’.
Social bookmarks are public web pages where you list all the links to all your favourite websites. They are a way of saying ‘I like these websites’ to anyone who is interested. They are a great way for customers to endorse you. Popular social book marking services are called Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Furl.
Here’s a video tutorial on how to add social bookmarking buttons.
10. Twitter & Twitter feed
Twitter lets you have a public conversation with your customers or website visitors. It helps to add a human element to your website, and gives your website personality. Here’s a video tutorial on how to integrate your WebEden website with Facebook and Twitter.
Whilst is important to be concerned with design, colours, fonts, menus and layout, when building a website make sure you include these 10 essentials too.
Anything else you think is a ‘essential’ for your website? Leave us a comment below.