6 Essential Website Elements You Must Have

People are becoming more and more concerned by their “rankings” on search engines and Google in particular. With 1 in 3 people in the UK researching a purchase online before making it, this is understandable. However, achieving a coveted 1st spot on Google means nothing in some cases as I will illustrate to you in this post by showing the essential website elements all websites should have, aswell as some consumer buying behaviour stats.

Imagine this: you are walking down the main street of a neighbouring town. You’re looking for a solicitor’s office. Following the directions you were given you find a building that looks like it could collapse at any minute. The walls are all chipped and the building looks like nobody has cared for it in a very long time. When you go inside you are questioning whether you should even be there, but the solicitor who owns the practice is well renowned as a legal bad ass, and that’s what you need right now.

When you go inside you are unable to speak, so you spend your entire time in the office moving from room to room being shouted at by the various sales people in each room. You want to try and tell the solicitor and his staff what you are there for and how they can help you but you are unable, until the very end when you are back near the door. Then just before you leave, miraculously, you are unmuted and allowed to say whether or not you want to hire the solicitor, but at this point you probably just want to get the hell out of there!

Not a pleasant experience and yet thousands of companies do it every single day. Not in their bricks and mortar place of business of course, but rather online.

What’s that got to do with web design? In a word: Everything.

In the story above the neighbouring town is actually a Search Engine. The solicitor’s building is your company website, and the solicitor is just a representation of your business. The rooms inside and the sales people in them are the pages of your website, and the inability to speak refers to the over-abundance of websites where the sole method of having a conversation (read: engagement) with the business is through a single contact form.

[lc-rounded-block-orange] If that sounds anything like your website I’d encourage you to avail of a free report where we will show you (for free!) the area’s of your site you can improve.

This free report examines the 3 areas of your website presence: Top of the Funnel, Middle of the Funnel and Analytics [/lc-rounded-block-orange]

Your company/website will never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression

You may think that the business you are in doesn’t lend itself to having a website that is more of a “hub” or a place where conversation is encouraged but I call shenanigans on that thinking. The vertical market your business operates in is irrelevant. Conversation with customers and prospects is beneficial (nay in fact it’s essential nowadays) for all companies and organisations who wish to grow in a sustainable way.

With one exception: if your products or services stink and you are not interested in improving them. Thanks to social media I don’t think there are too many companies out there like that any more.

Often times a company’s website is the first interaction the firm has with a prospect. Combine that with the knowledge that each day more and more people search for your products and services and I think it’s pretty clear that getting found online and making a favourable first impression are critically important.

As you can see from the infographic above the percentage of people who do no research before buying something online is between 2% (Ireland & Australia) and 4% (UK), which to my mind is a staggeringly low number.

26% of people in the UK who go online to purchase something, research their buy online only. Then add the 7% of people who research offline and online before making a purchase, and the total for the UK is 33% of people (or 1 in 3 people) will be looking for your products and services online before they choose who to buy from.

That’s today – imagine what it will increase to in the next 5 years!

These numbers are increasing all the time with E and M commerce becoming more popular and widely available, getting found online is increasing in importance and difficulty each and every day. What happens though when prospects do find your website online?

Do they take one look and leave? Do they browse around a bit and then leave? Do you capture their details? Do you even know what people on your site are looking at?

The 6 essential elements that should be on every company website:

(yes, especially yours!)

1 – High quality, brand consistent copy writing

Good quality copy sells, simple as that. It’ll be worth whatever investment you make in it.

2 – Professional design

Contrary to what some believe having a website that is completely different from everything else on the web is not the best plan for most companies. There is no need to have Flash pushing images and scrolling text across your page whilst making little beeping noises every time you hover over buttons.

Your prospects will wonder one thing: a simple yes or no question. They will wonder briefly when they view your website for the first time:

Is this a professional looking website (yes/no) and by extension is the company professional and trust worthy?

Yes your site should be completely unique and it should look professionally designed, because you never get a 2ndchance to make that first impression, but when designing it with your web professional, think about what your customers want from your website and design according to that.

3 – A blog to help you get found

The single most effective thing you can do for your business is to write a blog post on a regular basis. If you create content that is very shareable you will have a lot of content that goes viral. A lot of companies can’t afford the overhead of having one of their staff write a post each day/week, but there are plenty of companies (Lime Canvas included) who offer this as a service.

4 – An email subscription list (it’s free!)

With Mailchimp you can send 12000 emails to 2000 subscribers in any given month for FREE! No fuss, no muss, just good, compliant, email being sent to your subscriber list. This email list is a real asset to your business and put quite simply, it will result in bottom line euros, pounds and dollars, depending on where in the world you are!

5 – Social media integration

At the very least when you post a blog post it should be automatically distributed and shared to your social media accounts. There are lots of ways to do this if you are familiar with RSS but one of the simplest & most user-friendly tools for this is Dlvr.it and you don’t need to know much about RSS to set it up.

Social media buttons should be created and added to your header or footer and space permitting I’m a fan of having a twitter and/or Facebook stream with your latest updates on it.

6 – Google Analytics

No website should be built without Google Analytics as standard.It’s a free tool, it’s awesome, and it’s user-friendly, and what it comes down to is this: if you don’t know what your visitors are doing on your website then you have no idea of the volume of traffic you’re receiving.

You won’t know how many people visit and then contact you, or how many people are looking at your site on mobile devices, or where they located geographically.Having intelligence about who, where, what, when and how of your website can be hugely beneficial for informing your decisions and increasing your successes.

How many of the six elements above has your website got incorporated? Would a post about how to set up or configure any of the above help you? Please leave your comments below…