Feb 05 2016 | by CONOR BROWN
There’s no avoiding it: if you run a business, you’re going to need a website. Without a doubt, it is the most effective way to showcase what you do and sell your products to the world.
Sure, social media is an incredibly useful tool but you’ll need accounts on multiple platforms to give you the same functionality as a single, well developed website. Social media has its own drawbacks too - you’re essentially borrowing space on someone else’s website, so your profile is always going to play second fiddle the platform’s own interests. There’s also a grey area around privacy and ownership issues
Unfortunately, creating your own website isn’t as easy as starting an account on a social platform. There are lots of factors to consider and decisions to make, so, to make things easier, we’ve come up with the five things a new website needs to do to succeed in 2016 onwards.
Websites are accessible from an increasingly impressive array of devices these days: smartphones, tablets, desktops, games consoles, smart TVs, “phablets” - the list goes on. Mobile internet usage is skyrocketing, so it’s imperative that your website is usable across all of these devices. A responsive website does just that by fluidly adapting the layout and dimensions of a webpage to the browser or device it’s being viewed on.
So, whether you’re viewing your website on an iPhone, tablet or laptop, you know that your content or products will be clear and accessible to all visitors, wherever they are.
A Content Management System, or CMS for short, is a behind-the-scenes platform that allows you to, as the name suggests, manage the content on your website. While you don’t strictly need a CMS to have a website, they provide the ability to create structured and reusable page templates which make adding new pages, blog posts or products to your website a less time consuming task.
There are a number of different CMS platforms available (Wordpress is probably the most well known, but also one of the most basic) so choosing one can be hard, but they’re invaluable for businesses who want to be self sufficient and able to manage their own website.
People visit websites for all sorts of reasons: to shop, to watch videos, to register product warranties, or to find a contact phone number for a business. Websites have become progressively more complex as technology has advanced: just take a look at the website for the 1996 film Space Jam and you’ll see how far we’ve come. The way we interact with websites has changed a lot too, using either a mouse on a computer or our fingers on a phone or tablet.
Web design nowadays is much more than decoration, it’s about creating the perfect balance between form and function. Your user experience (or UX for short) can have a huge influence on the performance of your website and must be useful, usable, valuable, and accessible to meet the needs of your customers. This is why the design stage is critical to website building.
A well-made website provides a strong foundation for search engine performance. The graph below shows the average percent of search traffic based on a websites rank in Google. On average, the top ranking website for a search term will receive over 32% of the traffic, with only 3.4% of people clicking on the website in tenth position at the bottom of the page. If you can’t rank first, you should at least aim to be on the first page as over 95% of search traffic stays there - after all, when was the last time you looked on the second page of Google results?
This will largely depend on the type of website you run, but it’s an important aspect nonetheless. Websites aren’t just online billboards, they’re digital tools which should be serving your business goals. Whether you’re a software company, a law firm or a bakery, if you’re receiving interest from a consumer, there is an opportunity to generate a lead.
Generating leads means more than simply having an online shop. Try keeping some content, such as an e-book or ‘how-to- guide’ under lock-and-key, and ask for an email address in return for access. You can then market to that person through email campaigns and, hopefully, one of those recipients may become a customer.
Of course, depending on the type of business you have, some websites will require a more bespoke approach. In general, however, these five core functions will serve the majority of websites. This doesn’t mean your website will be the same as someone else’s, it just means that it will meet the needs and expectations of modern search engines and users alike.