image for 11 things your website needs blog post by Sarah Lynn of Simple Online Solutions showing a laptop on a desk

I have recently compiled a list of 11 things that in my opinion your website needs right now.

1. A simple description of what you do – above the fold

Whenever anyone arrive at your website you have a very short time for them to decide if your website is what they were looking for or not.  When I say short time, experts reckon that you have under 5 seconds before the click away if  they decide they are not interested in what you have to say.  So because of that I would highly recommend you make your Above the Fold section or sometimes called a Header section interesting to your potential clients/customers. 

Having a statement or a couple of sentences telling your visitor exactly What you do is key.  You could also go on to say Who you do it for and the Solution you provide.  Make sure you do this in their terms, no fancy jargon or lingo and try not to be too vague.  Nike can get away with the slogan Just Do It because they run multi-million pound marketing and advertising campaigns, I’m guessing if you’re like me your marketing budget is a bit smaller than that.  So make it easy for you visitor to understand what you do.

Gousto, in the picture below tell you straight away they offer “Endless Choice In A Recipe Box – Over 50 recipes every week”

You don’t need to guess what they offer, they tell you straight….

gousto website stating An Endless Choice In A Recipe Box

Have a look at your website Above The Fold area, and check it on your laptop, tablet and mobile if possible to make sure that what you want to be seen is showing in the right place.

Above the fold simply means the part of your website you see without having to scroll down on your device.

2. An easy to navigate menu

When a visitor lands on your website they generally are looking for some particular information.  Having an easy to navigate menu at the top of your website, with options on there that again are jargon free and what will help your visitor to find the information they want from your website.  Make things easy to find on your website so that spending time there is pleasurable.  I’m sure we have all been on a website and couldn’t find what we were looking for, only to leave minutes later feeling frustrated. 

Try not to overwhelm them with number of choices they need to make and keep the options to around 4-5 menu choices.   If you have do have lots of options available to them, you could choose to use sub-menus so that the other options are available via a drop down list.  Or alternatively like Gousto put them in your footer menu. 

image of gousto websites menu

3. Easy to find Contact Details

If someone comes to your website with the intention of contacting you, there is nothing more annoying than having to search for their contact details.  An easy way to get around this is to create a page called Contact Us and have all of the ways you want people to get in touch displayed so they can easily do just that.  Include if you want, your email, your phone number, your address, a contact form they can fill in and press Send.

Maybe consider putting a list of FAQ’s on this page too, that may help them so that they don’t need to contact you. 

When I tried to find the contact details for Gousto just as an experiment for this blog, it took me 6 mouse clicks, lots of scrolling and typing into search option to be able to find their contact details.  A bit frustrating I have to say! Now maybe they make this a bit easier if you are already a customer and have logged in but as a non customer a simple Contact Us page would have been so much easier to find.

4. Clear Call To Action (CTA)

When people land on your website homepage, sometimes they don’t necessarily know what they need to do next or where they need to go and that is where having a clear call to action really helps.  A Call To Action can be a button directing them to another area of your website depending on what you want them to do next.  Maybe you want them to contact you so you can have a chat.  Maybe you want them to sign up to your newsletter.  Maybe you want them to learn more information about the services or products your offer.

I would suggest having a CTA button in the Above the fold section of your website so that is one of the first things they see.  Making this a contrasting colour to your normal colour scheme can also make this stand out.

Using Gousto as an example again they have used a bright purple button with the words Get Started on it so people know exactly what to do.  As a secondary CTA button they have outlined the Login button so that if visitors are already customers of theirs, they can direct them to their members section so they can continue ordering their recipe boxes.

If you want to know more about CTA buttons check out my blog CTA Buttons – What They Are and How To Use Them here

Gousto call to action buttons to Get Started

5. Up-to-date content

Lots of people create their website and then leave it well alone, especially if technology isn’t your friend.  Sometimes it can go months or years without any attention at all and that can sometimes cause your website to be out-of-date.

Not only does keeping your website up-to-date help you rank better with search engines, it helps to give a great impression to your visitors.  Remember your website is a representation of you and your business and is available 365 days a year, 24 hrs a day.  So it makes sense to make the best first impression you can.

Looking at your website now, how accurate is the text/copy you have on each pages.  Are you still offering the same services/products? Have you added to your services or brought in new products to sell?

Does your photo on your About Me page  look like you right now? You do have a photo on your About Me page right?!?  I know lots of people are camera shy but this is a great opportunity to connect with your visitors so get your photo on there so they know what to expect if they ever meet you face-to-face.

Are your other photos fresh and seasonal?  Making sure you change your photos regularly depending on what’s happening in the world and what events are coming up are a great way of freshening up your website.  Think about Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, all great opportunities to tailor your business to the season and offer your visitors something new.

Are your testimonials and reviews up-to-date?  It may be a great review but if its dated 2015 it may not necessarily showcase your business in the best light.

And lastly are your contact details accurate?  Have you moved premises? Have you got a new mobile phone? Changed your email?  People could be trying to get in touch with you and they are hitting a blank wall if your contact details aren’t current.

The florist in the photo below is making the most of the season and showcasing their beautiful flowers and has changed their website accordingly.  How can you do that to your website?

 

Townsend Florist

6.  A Blog

Even though the thought of writing blog posts may be scary to some of you, having a blog on your website is a great way for encouraging visitors to stay longer on your site and to return time and time again.

A blog post is simply your thoughts and opinions captured on your website.  You could create posts about the services you offer, the products you sell or use during your services.  You can create show-and-tell type posts where you show your visitors what goes on behind the scenes at your business.  So many possibilities to share with your viewers that they may find interesting and keep them coming back for more.

If you want to know more about blogging check out my blog post Do you blog regularly? And why you should if you don’t

7. User Friendly Design

Have you ever been on a website and left in a rush as it just wasn’t user friendly at all? I know I have.  There are lots of things that make a website user friendly.

Some things to bear in mind are an easy to read font, in a large enough size and in a colour that is easily viewable.  Your favourite colour may be yellow but having yellow text on a white background can make it awfully hard to read especially when viewing it on a mobile.  This is written in yellow! And obviously its not just yellow, pastel colours of all kinds on white can be hard to see, especially for those with eye conditions.

A clear and easy to follow structure is most important.   White space is good on websites as it allows you to separate different areas of your website without too much information.

As mentioned above easy to use navigation is key and it goes without saying that your website should do what it is supposed to do without errors and missing pages when you click through on links.

8. Customer Testimonials

 It’s all very well knowing that you are good at what you do but someone else saying that you are makes a huge difference to how people see your business.  Showing 1 or 2 customer reviews on several pages of your website is my preference, rather than having a page just specifically for reviews.  Add a button to your Contact Me page to ask for reviews on your Facebook page and your Google My Business page so that others can see what existing customers thought of working with you.  I would suggest you have reviews on your Home page, your About page and your Contact Me page at a minimum.  And don’t forget to amend them if they get out-of-date.  It always makes me wonder how on the ball the business is if the reviews say they are from 2014, with no newer ones showing.

9. Social Media icons – that work

Just like in Step 3 above, having easy to find Social Media icons that link to the correct page/account means that following you is quick and simple.  If you have some one showing on your website, give them a click and check they are going to your current accounts.  Sometimes we change the names of the accounts and forget to amend the details on our website or we may decide that a particular platform is no longer working for us so we delete the account, if so don’t forget to delete the icon.

10. An Opt-in offer to your email list

 Collecting your website visitors email addresses allows you to email them time and time again to let them know when there is anything new they should know about whether that’s special offers, a new blog post you’ve published, an event your offering, new products or services.  To entice people to give you their email addresses you will quite often see what is called an ethical bribe being offered in exchange for their name and email address.  This could be a checklist they can work through like the one I’m offering in this blog post – just complete the box below and you can get your hands on your own free checklist.  It could be a money off voucher or code.  It could be an extra 30 minutes of massage when they book an hour appointment.  There are lots of options available to you, use whatever works for you and your ideal client.

11. Legal Requirements – Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, T&C’s

To ensure you and your website is legal you need to have some policies in place that tell your visitors what information you collect from them, what you do with it and how long you keep it.  The Information Commissioner’s Office is a good place to get these policy templates for free.  Just head to www.ico.org.uk/ and in the search option google Privacy Policy, Website Terms and Conditions and Cookie Policy for free downloadable documents that you can amend with your details and then upload onto your website.

Information Commissioner's Office logo

I hope you find this blog post helpful.  Please leave me a comment below and let me know how you get on, if you have found anythings you need to change on your website.

Until next time, love & hugs

Sarah x