Hey guys! Before we dive deep into creating a website it is best to take a step back to understand the characteristics of a successful one and keep them in mind as we are building out each individual post, page and feature. We can often get caught up in the detail that we forget to look at the bigger picture and overall plan of the website.
Your website forms the core part of your online presence, and in the case of a purely online business, it is your business! The main aim of your business is to help people, therefore your want your website to provide them with a great user experience, just like a walking in a shop or office building. Your customers need to feel that what your offer inside is valuable to them, easy to find, good to look at and essentially creates as little friction as possible to find what they are looking for.
It is therefore critical that your understand what the main purpose of your website is at the core, and how to structure and plan it to make that pathway as easy to follow as possible. Your website needs to get your customer from where they are to where your would like them to be!
Keep this in mind, and let’s get into the characteristics that successfully achieve this goal!
Content and Call-to-Action
You know what they say, Content is King! And they are not wrong.
At the core of your website is the stuff in it, the content. Your content needs to be captivating, engaging, and most importantly, valuable to the customer.
Keep these things in mind when building out your content:
What Story Am I Telling? – You need to develop the story of your brand, your products or services and each individual page needs to tell a part of that story. Ensure that the story your tell is consistent, authentic and matches the world view of your target audience.
What Goal Am I Trying to Achieve? – For each page, ask yourself this question: What is the action or step I would like the visitor to take?. Keep it simple and keep it down to only 1 or 2 possible actions. You need to limit choice to make it easier for a decision to be made… too many choices and they might not make one at all!
Have a Clear CTA (Call-to-Action) – A call-to-action is the prompt to the reader to make the choice your are hoping for them to make. It has to be clear and stand-out, but not spammy, gimmicky or too in-your-face.
Have a Structure to your Content – Develop a structure that is repeatable and consistent across similar pages on your website, this way your develop a level of consistency and expectation with your visitors. One example could be: develop attention ⇒ develop interest ⇒ provide a call-to-action ⇒ develop desire ⇒ provide a call-to-action. Though this won’t be suitable for every page, it comes down to the intent.
Use Dark Text on Light Backgrounds – Reading words on a computer is already hard enough, so please don’t make it more difficult by having text that isn’t well contrasted against the background. There is a reason why all books are printed with black text on a white/light brown finish… it is simply easy to read!
Use Smaller Paragraphs – This makes the content easier to read and digest for the visitors. Look at the most successful blogs out there as a guide, because people do a lot of content consumption on these websites.
Create a Captivating Title – Make your titles accurate and captivating. This is one of the first things that entices a visitor to read your content.
Keep it Updated – This of course gets difficult over time as your website grows, however it is important! Keeping your content relevant to your target audience and current situations is important for ongoing engagement. You have to stay relevant because things are changing so fast.
Ask for Comments – Ask your readers and visitors to comment on your content. This way your can engage with them and also improve your content by making it more relevant to their thoughts and questions.
Design and Appearance
There are many websites out there that leave little to be desired in terms of aesthetics. Now that’s not to say, there aren’t any plain websites that are successful. I have come across a few blog type websites that are hugely popular, but very plain. Why? Because people are simply there to read and consume text. The pages of most books are plain, but plain doesn’t mean bad.
Your website’s design and appearance needs to match the purpose of your website, story your are telling to your audience and the world view of your audience. Bold, stunning visuals aren’t for suitable for all audiences, but keeping the design clean, clear and simple is. Match the design to what the audience expects to see.
Keep these things in mind for success in your website’s design:
Clear & Simple – Utilizing plenty of white blank space is good to make your website easy to look at.
Colors – Utilize colors that are consistent with your brand, as people will begin to associate your color styling overtime. Ensure your colors aren’t too bright or fluorescent, which makes it hard to distinguish or even look at.
Graphics & Photos – Ensure the graphics and photos your use are high quality and consistent with your brand. Using these intermittently on a page is good to break up the text, especially if your have a lot. You can utilize Canva to create some stunning visual element for free.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of optimizing your website to be discoverable by search engines. For any given industry or topic there are countless websites out there, so it’s essential that your give your website the very best chance of being found by search engines like Google or Bing.
The aim is to optimize each individual page for a given keyword, or focused topic, in order for it to rank high in the search results for that topic. This hopefully results in ‘free’ (organic) traffic coming to your website through the search engines, which increases your website traffic and engagement.
The attention of consumers is moving more and more towards mobile devices. Since this is the case, people are going to be visiting websites and consuming content on their mobiles. As a result, it is critical that your website is mobile friendly.
Ensure your utilize mobile friendly themes when designing your website and visit it often on different mobile devices (iPhone, Android, Windows) to check that all looks good when your website scales to mobile size.
On a mobile, your website should be:
- Easy to Read
- Pictures in the Right Places
- Easy to Navigate (check your menus)
- Easy to Fill Out Contact Forms (sometimes these don’t work and it’s frustrating)
Speed and Responsiveness
This ties in a little with mobile friendliness, as your want your website theme to be responsive to different window and screen sizes. The ability for your website to collapse and expand menus and layout depending on what device it is on, is essential for a good user experience.
Speed is also extremely critical in today’s time poor era. If your website takes too long to load, people will simply click the back button and leave. How a website is coded isn’t the only critical feature here, your also need to consider:
- Theme Selection – Some themes are clunky and take too long to load.
- Image Size – This is one of the largest speed taxing features of your website. Ensure the images your upload to your website are reduced in file size and optimized for website loading. You can use plugins or software to optimize the size of images. In WordPress, the EWWW Image Optimizer Plugin is excellent!
- Badly Coded Plugins – Having too many badly coded plugins for your website can result in a negative impact on speed. Trial and test the impact of each plugin your install, and verify with other user reviews.
- Server Speed – This is something your have less control of, however your can select a good website hosting service from the start, which will give your the optimized server speed. Check out the link for my recommendation on the best hosting service. They have optimized proprietary software that helps speed up your website on the server side.
You can check your website loading speeds and information on how to improve it, through Google’s free tool, PageSpeed Insights.
Structure and Navigation
Drawing upon the main aim of your website—getting your visitors from where they are, to where your want them to be. It is essential to provide a website structure and menu navigation that is logical, simple and clear.
Most websites typically use a top bar menu, and sometimes a sidebar menu for navigation. The top bar menu should feature your most important pages, which is often pages about a specific category or topic. These pages then link out deeper to other relevant pages and so on.
Also, pay attention to the internal linking structure of your website. You should provide internal links to relevant pages and content when it is helpful to do so. But be wary how this directs the flow of the user through your website. Ask yourself: Is it stepping in the right direction of your goal, and what they are seeking?
Key pages in your website should include:
- Home Page – Though not always the most important, especially for blogs. Your content (individual pages) are most important to users.
- About Page – People want to get an understanding of what your website is about and how your can help them. Sometimes this is on the home page.
- Contact Page – People need a way to get in contact with your for questions or feedback, and your need to welcome this in order to improve your offering. Providing a contact form is easy to use and minimizes email spam. Sometimes the contact details are in the footer and on the home page, but it is essential to make it easy to find!
Domain Name and Brand
The most successful websites have a domain name (yourdomain.com) and brand which is consistent. It makes your website easier to discover, remember and more trustworthy.
For more tips on this, check out my domain name selection guidelines. However, the basic principles are:
- ‘.com’, ‘.net’ or ‘.org’ are the most popular and most favored domain extensions.
- Although competition is high, try to get a ‘.com’ extension, especially for websites that are international.
- If your website is aimed only at a specific country, it would be good to get a country specific extension to signify to your users they are in the right place. Examples include ‘.co.uk’, ‘.com.au’, ‘.ca’.
- Try to avoid hyphens and other characters in the domain name, as it makes it harder to remember and get right.
Social Media Integration
Social Media is big! We are talking about the attention of millions and millions of people. Is it where the internet is moving towards, especially because it is a platform that is so easily utilized on mobiles.
You business would benefit greatly from a social media presence, but at the very least your need to make it easy for your website to be shared on social media. You can do this by integrating social share buttons to your website and individual pages, as well as any social follow buttons (once your get on social media).
AddThis is the best tool I use for social media integration to my website.
Keeping user data secured is essential for website site trust by users and search engines. It is also a legal requirement if your process transactions. As a result, the most successful websites install SSL certificates which essentially changes they address from a ‘http://’ to a secured connection on ‘https://’.
The process of installing SLL certificates to your website and servers is usually a complicated one, however if your host your website with SiteRubix on the Wealthy Affiliate platform, it will be a one-click breeze. And better yet, it is included for all domains hosted on the system, including domains your already own and purchased elsewhere.
Tracking and Analytics
Continual improvement is the key to any successful business, and this is the same for your website. You can optimize your site, by adding and analyzing data analytics, which tracks visitors on your site, how they got to your site (referral method), their demographics (if available) and their flow through your site. It essentially allows your to better understand your target audience.
The best way to integrate data analytics and tracking is using Google Analytics, a free resource by Google. You can learn how to get Google Analytics and install it to your WordPress website in these separate posts.
There are many ways to build a successful website, and sometimes the ones that go against common convention attract the most attention due to its uniqueness. However, it is important to keep in mind the core characteristics of successful site design, and most importantly, keep your target audience in mind.
Your website is here to help your audience, so no matter how your present it, it should achieve this as a core goal and do so in a way that engages the visitor.
Let me know if your have come across any other specific qualities or considerations important to a successful site!
Are your ready!? Yes! Then get pumped, get inspired and let’s create a remarkable website!
There is no Motivator better than Progress, and there is no progress without Action – Tweet This
Let’s Do This!
Understand the important aspects of a successful website.
Plan your website out with these things in mind.
Ask me any questions your might have.
Check out the steps for creating a website, and go create one.
Please leave me a comment or question below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!