There are two main aspects to every website: Design and functionality. Many businesses put design over functionality, but in fact they are both equally as important as each other. Especially if you want a successful website.
Think about it: Do you have a high bounce rate? Are customers filling their baskets, but don’t actually purchase anything? Why do users check out different pages, but don’t take any action?
For a website to be successful there are a few functional aspects that need to be considered. And by a successful website, we mean a website that converts.
You might already have a website, but you’re not making as many sales as you wish. Or maybe you’re looking for a bit of a guide to building a website with which you can start selling online.
Fortunately for you, we put together the seven most crucial elements that every website needs.
Read on if you want a website that converts.
Essential elements of a successful website
1. Easy-to-use navigation
We kick off with one of the most important elements. A user-friendly navigation is a must-have for any website. You can have the best products and services on the market, but if users can’t find them they won’t buy.
So how do you ensure a seamless and smooth navigation?
Less is more when it comes to your site navigation. Your navigation should be simple and clearly organised. In saying that, your menu bar for example should be kept simple and reflect only the key landing pages you want to send traffic to. You can place your menu at different spots on your homepage, but the good old top navigation bar still works the best as it is instantly visible.
If you want to be a little more edgy and use a hamburger bar for example in the top right corner of your homepage, you can do that. You just have to make sure it’s done strategically and clearly so that users won’t struggle to find the menu bar.
Another thing to consider is keeping your menu as short as possible. Don’t overwhelm users by giving them too many options. That just confuses them. Only have the landing pages listed that you want users to direct to.
2. Clear conversion paths
On top of an easy-to-use navigation, you must have clear conversion paths. This entails catchy call-to-actions (CTAs) and clear messaging. The whole point of a website is to prompt users to take action.
What that action involves is totally up to you and your business goals. You may want users to become a member, sign up to your newsletter, share a snapshot of them with your product on social media, make a purchase, and so on.
Ultimately, a website should provide an end-to-end solution that meets the users’ needs. Catchy CTAs and clear messaging guides users through your website, improving conversion rates.
3. Quality content
The content on your website is more important than you might think. Your content needs to be compelling so your users feel engaged. But it also has to be search engine optimised if you want to rank high organically on search engines like Google.
Let’s have a look at both components in more detail.
Your content needs to speak to your users, which means that it needs to have a clear purpose. Every landing page has its own purpose and needs to be structured in a way that catches a user’s attention, maintains it and turns it into keen interest.
Organise your content with banners, headings, visuals and lists, so it’s easier for users to skim through. Additionally, always make sure you use your brand voice across all your pages to maintain consistency.
In the end, your content should be helpful and relatable. Try and put yourself in the shoes of your audience when you design your website content. This will help you create compelling content that speaks to your users.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Search engines like Google have very specific requirements when it comes to websites. If you want your site to appear in user’s search results, your site needs to be search engine optimised.
SEO involves several components, but the most important ones are:
- Relevant keywords – conduct a keyword analysis to identify keywords and keyphrases relevant to your industry and target audience
- Internal linking – connect one landing page on your website to another on your website. It improves the user experience and helps keeping your bounce rate low
- Page speed – Search engines don’t like slow websites. Make sure you check the speed of your site and pages
- Security – Secure websites are always ranked higher than non-secure websites. Ensure your site has a SSL certificate and is PCI DSS compliant
- Mobile-first index – Google’s algorithm prioritises sites that are mobile-friendly. Your site must entail a responsive design (more to that in a moment)
The use of SEO practices is crucial to your site performance. Mind you, configuring your site to the highest possible SEO standards doesn’t automatically mean your site will appear on top of search engines.
What it means is that your site will rank higher organically, but may still be behind competitors. More importantly, having a search engine optimised site provides you with a solid foundation for any additional SEO efforts, such as Google Ads.
4. Responsive design
Elaborating on the previous point, your website needs to be responsive on different devices such as desktop, tablets, and various sized mobiles. Websites aren’t here to just look pretty, they need to function.
”Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like.”Steve Jobs
What happens if a website looks amazing on a desktop, but all messed up on a mobile? Users get frustrated and switch to a competitor.
You have to make sure your design is responsive to ensure a smooth user experience. With over 70% of web traffic coming from a mobile device, making your website mobile-friendly should be your biggest priority.
5. Consistent design language
Consistency is key to forming brand recognition and building customer trust and loyalty. Anything you do needs to align with your brand strategy. This – obviously – includes your website.
Visual and verbal consistency is essential on any website. This means maintaining a cohesiveness across all visual elements and a consistent tone of voice.
As a result, you get a cohesive brand image, which provides a unified experience for both existing and new customers. Plus, it helps you build a strong brand identity.
Why do I need a strong brand identity?
It differentiates you from competitors, builds trust and enhances customer satisfaction. Higher satisfaction leads to more loyal customers. And what is the key driver of sales? Loyal customers.
So if you want to make more sales, you have to work on your brand identity. Here’s a full guide on how to build a strong brand identity!
6. Easy content management systems
A content management system (CMS) is a platform that allows us to create, edit, manage, collaborate on and store digital content. A good CMS will let you maintain your website, without needing much technological knowledge.
Which CMS you choose depends on your unique needs and business goals. Here are some of the most popular platforms:
Probably the most popular CMS, WordPress is open-source platform which means it’s free to install. It has many plugins and add-on features on offer, with which you can improve the user experience on your site. The main benefits of WordPress are its extensibility, however you will need some basic coding and technological skills to work with this CMS.
On the plus side, you will find that most developers are very familiar with it, so you will easily find a web developer or agency that can work with your site. Also, if you want to sell online, WordPress has a plugin (called WooCommerce) that lets you build an online store on your current website for free.
Thinking of selling online? We weighed up the two biggest eCommerce platforms and can tell you which one is better for you!
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that not only lets you create stunning online stores, but it’s also a CSM that lets you manage your business all in one place. If you build your website with Shopify you also don’t have to worry about security. The key benefits of Shopify are its ease of use, security and scalability, making Shopify an attractive CMS for many.
Similarly to WordPress, Drupal is a popular open-source platform (free to install). Their difference is the strong focus on security, which is where they truly stand out. On the other hand, they don’t have as many plugins and add-on features.
This CMS differentiates itself with a stronger focus on SEO practices such as mobile and search engine friendliness. Joomla also is an open-source software with many extensions and plugins available. Probably its main benefit, Joomla makes it easy to create multilingual websites (they have over 70 translation packages available!).
Squarespace is an eCommerce platform, but like Shopify it comes with many features allowing you to manage your business all in one place. It includes website design and development, software maintenance, security and hosting packages. However, it is not free.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t have as many extensions on offer, limiting your scalability and flexibility.
7. Tracking and Marketing Tools
Lastly, a website can greatly help you achieve your business goals. Whether you want more leads, make more revenue, scale your business, increase your customer base, get more subscribers – your website can do it all!
But if you want your website to perform, you need tracking tools. Some examples are Google Analytics, Matomo, Clicky, Hotjar – and there’s many more!
Tracking tools allow you to measure your site’s performance, user behaviour and traffic. Monitoring your website is essential as it identifies pain points for users and areas for improvement. Once you know where your site fails, you can adjust accordingly and get the results you want.
Then there are marketing tools. They let you optimise your website and create the best user experience possible. Marketing tools include things like email marketing, social media advertising, bot chats, SEO, sales channels optimisation and automation.
As you can see, a great website may require a little more than you thought. It needs to be both aesthetically pleasing and technically sound, if you want the best possible results.
Need a hand creating a great website? We specialise in creating websites that convert. Combining bespoke design with highest functionality, we believe that our websites simply are unmatched.