In today’s technology driven business environment, almost every business needs a website to represent it in the digital universe. However, for your website to be effective as a business tool that drives growth and helps market your company, following certain best practices is extremely important. In the absence of these, your website will just be one of the millions of sites on the internet that nobody knows or cares about.
Marketing has changed - everyone knows that. Digital media has irreversibly altered the way marketers go about their job. From online lead generation to social media, email campaigns and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), businesses that remain oblivious to these new realities of marketing and selling, are shooting themselves in the head.
At the center of this digital universe is the website. Let’s take a look at some absolutely essential features of a great business website.
1. Loading Time / Speed
We live in impatient times. Waiting for a website to load can be extremely frustrating and can very easily lead to loss of visitors. Make sure your site is well optimised and loads in the least possible time. Image sizes must be kept as small as possible. Unnecessary lines of code should be removed. Performance of the server hosting your website also impacts speeds. Get your web developer to look into these and other reasons, closely.
2. Beautiful Interface Design
First impressions matter. Research shows that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the layout and design of the page is unattractive. Source (Adobe). Having an aesthetically pleasing website design creates a positive first impression about your business. Further, the look and feel should match the nature of your business. You don’t want your restaurant website looking industrial or a corporate website looking too casual. Avoid clutter, use pleasing colors and appealing typography. Make sure the images used are not pixelated. Be aware of contemporary design trends and ensure your website design appeals to the tastes of your target audience.
3. Mobile Optimised
With more and more people across the world and specifically in Dubai, using their mobile phones to browse the internet, having your website display perfectly on mobiles has never been more important. Statistics reveal that between 2013 and 2015, the use of smart phones and tablets to browse the web increased by 78% and 30% respectively (source https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2016/2016-US-Cross-Platform-Future-in-Focus). Moreover, with Googles recent update of their search algorithm, websites that are not mobile-friendly will rank very low or may not even show up in search results on mobile devices.
4. Strong on-page SEO
To explain this, let’s take the analogy of building construction. If your website is a building, on-page SEO is the wiring that goes inside the walls, under the flooring and over the roof. It’s about the meta tags that you insert into the code, the alternative names you give your images, page titles, meta descriptions, and many more elements. Some of these are not even visible when you look at the website, but be sure, they are working 24/7 to make your website more readable for Google’s spiders.
On-page SEO does not make your website rank up in search results immediately. But it’s the most important first step that makes it possible for subsequent off-page SEO efforts to start showing results.
5. Logical and Simple Information Architecture
Think of this as the skeleton. Even before your web design company starts work on design, they need to determine the structure of the website. A sitemap is created for this purpose. It defines how information is organized and categorized on the website. Typically it includes sections like about us, services or products, contact information, etc. Only once a strong skeleton is built, should you proceed to putting the flesh on it and shaping it with design and content. Bear in mind, it can be tedious and expensive to make changes to the site map after completing the design process, simply because the latter is built around the former.
6. Lead Generation / Data Capture Forms
Make it easy for your visitors to contact you from your website. Apart from featuring your phone numbers and emails, it is a great idea to have a brief, enquiry form for visitors to simply fill and submit. The submission can drop into your inbox with the visitor’s information or be connected to the CRM you use. It is recommended to add a captcha to your forms to minimise spam submissions. Diligently used, these forms can prove of great value in lead generation.
Bonus tip: Analytics
Last but not the least, your website must be connected to analytics, Google Analytics being the most preferred. Having invested time and money on building a website, you want to know how many people are actually visiting your site, what pages are they looking at, how much time are they spending on your site, so on and so forth. This information is absolutely priceless as it tells you whether or not your website is working for your business. It offers incredible insights into visitor behavior and preferences, that you can use to formulate your next marketing strategy.