To be successful online, it’s no longer good enough just to have a web presence. Competition between companies means that the bar has been raised when it comes to website design. Today’s leading sites do more than simply look good, they are functional, optimised and interactive places that engage readers from the get-go.
If you want to propel your business forward, your website has to meet the same standards as your competitors. Here are the 10 essential features that your site needs.
Changes in browsing behaviour mean it’s no longer acceptable to focus design on how websites look on computer screens. Today, more than 60% of all browsing is done on smartphones and more and more of us are using phones to make online purchases.
A website that isn’t designed from the bottom up to cater for mobile users potentially loses 60% of its traffic and any resulting sales. The only solution is to make sure your site has a fully functioning mobile-friendly design that your visitors can access wherever they are. Doing so could rocket your visitor numbers. It still has to work on PC and tablets too, though.
2. Quick loading times
Slow loading times have a hugely negative effect on the performance of a website. Not only will search engines rank your pages lower, but there is statistical evidence that users will abandon your site if they have to wait. It is estimated that even a one-second delay in loading time can reduce online conversion rates by around 7%. In retail environments, where profit margins are small, improving loading times by a second could be the difference between success and failure.
There are numerous things that can slow your site down and the best way to discover what these are and how you can speed your site up is with the Google Pagespeed Insights tool. You should also host your site with a provider which uses high performance, web optimised servers.
3. Search engine optimised
SEO done well can have a business changing impact on the number of organic visitors your website gets. However, comprehensive optimisation is a continual task that needs to take in all three areas of SEO: on-page optimisation (e.g. keywords and content quality), on-site optimisation (e.g. site speed, XML sitemaps and metadata) and off-site optimisation (high-quality backlinks, domain authority and page rank). At the same time, you need to make sure you don’t over optimise and that everything is aimed at your visitors and not simply created for search engines.
You’ll never be able to make informed improvement decisions about your website unless you can measure how well it is performing. The only way to do this is to set up analytics tracking. Using free tools, like Google Analytics, you can track a wide range of metrics, such as traffic volumes and visitor behaviour, as well as setting goals and measuring conversions.
With all this freely available information, you’ll easily be able to understand which parts of your website are functioning well and which parts need more development.
5. Built for conversion
The main purpose of any business website is to generate new business whether this is to attract new customers or retain existing ones. To maximise your earning potential, you should set up specific landing pages and create sales funnels that will have the most impact.
6. Content management enabled
Visitors and search engines both have a preference for websites with fresh and engaging content. It is essential, therefore, that your website design makes it easy for you to manage your content. CMS platforms, such as WordPress, are ideal for this.
A CMS will enable you to publish new content on a regular basis and you can use this to create long-term content marketing campaigns.
7. Social media
Social media can do wonders for extending the reach of a brand to new customers. For this reason, every website needs to have social sharing buttons on their pages so that readers can spread the word. At the same time, companies should set up social media accounts which can send traffic back to their website.
8. Set up email marketing
With an average ROI of £38 for every £1 spent, it’s no surprise that more than half of all businesses use email marketing. It’s forty times more effective at generating new business than social media and has higher conversion rates than PPC, direct mail or broadcast advertising.
To undertake email marketing, websites need to contain email subscription forms and take advantage of email and newsletter plugins or third-party software to deliver marketing materials to their subscribers.
9. Robust Security
With so many cyberattacks on websites, you need robust protection. A key part of doing this is choosing a web host that provides the essential security tools you need: strong firewalls, intrusion and malware protection, SSL certificates, spam filtering and remote backups. At the same time, ensure that the site itself is configured for security and that passwords are secured using two-factor authentication.
10. Progressive Web Apps
People spend more time on apps than they do surfing the web. One way to make your website more user-friendly would be to make it look and work just like an app and have a range of app-like features. This can be done using progressive web app software.
Why not just have an app instead of a website? One of the best features of a progressive web app is that, unlike normal Android or iOS apps, their content is indexed by search engines and appears in research results. Progressive web apps, therefore, give you the best of both formats.
As you can see, the best of today’s websites have features that are geared to help businesses succeed online. From defence against cyberattacks to app-like performance, they enable websites to be user-friendly, search engine friendly and optimised to improve conversion rates.
If you run an online business and need web hosting that is secure, fast and which can cope with the demands of progressive web apps and greater volumes of traffic, check out our wide range of hosting solutions.