What a Website Needs to Succeed - A Proven Formula for All Websites!
There are many DO's and DONT's for designing a website. Many business owners try to save money by not including many looked-over web pages that really need to be part of their website. I have compiled a list of pages to include (and why), as well as things to look out for when designing a website.
Every business needs a website. It is an absolute MUST! Nowadays, it’s like not being in the phone book. The Internet is a digitally-indexed database that is searchable. Whenever anyone wants to know more about anything, they look it up on the Internet, in their own time, 24/7, without the pressure of a sales person. With search engines, such as Google.com or Yahoo.com, the information they are looking for can be found in seconds. If you aren’t where people are looking, you CAN’T get the sale.
Even if you aren’t planning on selling anything online, you still need to have an Internet presence, telling your story and being a 24/7 sales person for you. The Internet is information. So, even if you just have an informational website, people can find out more about you, your company, what you have to offer, and why they should choose you over your competition. A website gives you the opportunity to get all of that across to your potential customer.
Following, are proven components of a website and why you will need them in yours.
A Home Page is the window into your website and should be short, sweat, and to the point. Statistically, it has been proven that you get about 3 seconds, once a person arrives at your website, to get them interested enough to click for more information. If you can get them to click, then you have them! If you try to give them all of the information at once, then you will lose them.
Some websites try to give you their inventory on the home page, or write a story that scrolls forever. This is not good. A home page should not scroll. This is a big “No No”. When people get to a home page and see paragraphs, trust me, they go on to the next website. It needs graphics that represent the services, happy pictures, happy customers, and a quick sales pitch. Remember, people are lazy and won’t read large amounts of text, unless they have a need to. And included on the home page, needs to be quickly gotten across, why someone should use you over your competitor.
The About Us page sometimes gets left off, in favor of making the home page the About Us page. You will want to have an About Us page that explains in detail what you have to offer, your history, your mission statement, and a good reason that a potential customer should use buy from you over your competitor. This can be seen as the detailed version of the home page. However, it is a mistake to forgo the About Us page in exchange for a detailed home page. Again, this will just push people away who do not want to read all of the details to find out who you are and what you have to offer. This information should be available for those who wish to see more information after they are intrigued by the home page.
Design rules. For uniformity and good design, websites (any marketing piece) should have rules for graphic elements and text. For example, all headings should be the same size/style/color, etc. All subheads should have their own size/style/color, etc. This helps the eye make sense of what it is looking at. Guide your visitor with well-placed graphics and text.
Make sure that your website has good navigation, with buttons/links for all main sections of your website. And be sure to keep these navigation buttons/links visible on ANY page. There is nothing more frustrating than to not be able to find your way while browsing a website. People will leave before becoming too frustrated. Don’t let this happen on your website!
The constant, flashing email (or other) button/advertisement is a "No No" these days. In the old days, flashing and blinking graphics were used. As websites became more graphically sophisticated, these types of elements were not used any more. It can be annoying to see something flashing just off your vision, when you are trying to read the web page.
Text links at the bottom are rarely used any more. They were implemented back in the day of the text-based websites, when they were just starting out. This was for the dial-up users who had the option to turn off graphics for faster web page loading. When this happened, there were no links for navigation, unless a webmaster placed text links at the bottom. Nowadays, most people have broadband connections, and this just isn't necessary any more.
The biggest problem I see with websites these days is that a person has to read quite a bit to see what, exactly, a website is selling. When people show up at your website, you get about 3 seconds to peak their interest. Get it across very quickly, with icons/graphics/bullet points that are easy to understand. Tell them why they should choose you over your competition. And then tell them where to go to get started.
Another very important element is testimonials. More important than telling them why a potential customer should use your services over your competitions’, is a customer of yours saying the same thing. Not only is a testimonial someone who used your services, but they can say "how" you were able to help them. This gives new potential customers ideas on how your services will help “them”. Testimonials are also sales pitches from your happy customers, people just like them. They are people who were in the same position as they are right now and they got through it, so they can too. They also build credibility. When you are endorsed by other people, you have credibility and that you can do what you say you can do. And even though they may be saying the same thing that you are saying, it is coming from someone just like them, and not someone who is trying to sell them anything. They have nothing to gain by saying this. You do. So they need to hear from them. You absolutely MUST have endorsements for your business; otherwise, you are just blowing your own horn!
The next best thing to a testimonial page is an FAQ page. An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page answers questions for your company 24/7, when you can't be at the phone to answer, and for people who would rather look over your information than speak to someone who might try to sell them something. FAQs also help to give scenarios of how they can be helped, by answering questions that other potential customers have asked, and they might not have thought of themselves. This gets them thinking and gives them answers in a risk-free environment. It is VERY important to have an FAQ working for you 24/7. It's like having a free sales person working for you around the clock, fielding all questions that might come up! It's a MUST-have for ANY website!
Your website should also have a clear "call to action". A lot of websites say that “we are here and we do this”, but they don't tell them how to get started, or tell them where to go to get started right now... no call to action. Now that they have the information, now what? People are like sheep. They must be led. You must lead them to the next level; otherwise, they probably won't get there. You should have calls to action by all services, and on your home page. You should sprinkle testimonials throughout, as well, leading them back to the full testimonials and then to the call to action, which should be placed on the testimonials page, as well. You could offer a FREE Consultation by calling right now… or click HERE now to email us 24/7 for a FREE Consultation… something that tells them where to go from here and a reason to get started right now and how.
There also needs to be graphics to help tell the story; high-end icons that help draw the eye to the item of interest, to get them to read it. Having a text-only page usually does not get read. People are lazy and will not usually read paragraphs of information in hopes of getting the information they are looking for. They would have to first be extremely interested before reading the “fine print”. And to get them interested, it should be broken up with graphics that represent each section. They will see the related graphic first, and then move to that area if interested. But to give them a page of information usually doesn't work.
You also need meta tags. This is very important to search engines. These are hidden key words and phrases that describe what you offer, but also your location, etc. Search engines rely heavily on key words and phrases in order to give your website as a result in a search done for your type of business. In fact, it is also good to have misspelled keywords that people might type in order to find you. Obviously, you won’t want to have misspelled words or phrases on your page, since this will give the wrong impression of who you are. With meta tags, misspelled words are hidden in the code of the website, but can be used to bring people to your website who may not be able to correctly spell some your services. Even putting your competitions’ names and products in your meta tags can help get traffic to your site, so that they can compare your products and services to your competitors’.
Another item that puts you high on the search engine results listing is having articles about your type of business, both on your website, and other websites that link back to yours for more information on the subject. Offering free information makes you an authority on the subject, not just someone trying to sell their wares. This plays heavily in search results, along with one-way links back to your website. When you get one-way links back to your site for more information, this gives you much credibility and definitely helps to make you an authority that other sites rely on. So when someone looks up your type of product or service for more information, obviously the search engine will give a site that has the most helpful and free information (and one that other sites rely on for more information on this subject) a higher rating and puts them higher on the search results list.
A FREE Tips & Tricks or Hints page is also a good way to get relevant traffic. People are always looking for How-To's and DIY information on all types of subjects. On my site I have FREE Tech Tips that get hits all the time, which pertain to my services. Again, a percentage of these hits click on my services. And the only way I got them there was because of the FREE How-To's that I offer. So, you have to entice people to your site, by offering more than your competitor's website. This is where these types of pages come in handy.
A Guarantee page is also a good idea. Again, this gives credibility and will give you an edge over your competitor, who may not offer a guarantee. A website that has a guarantee, but is hard to find, makes a potential customer feel like they have something to hide and may not purchase from that website. However, if you have an easy-to-find Guarantee that you put right in their face (whether you dedicate a page to it, or you put it right on the Home page), it eases potential customers into a buying position.
You may want to have a form that allows a customer to request more information about your product or service, and which also lets the customer type in their personal information and what they are looking for. This not only helps you by getting their contact information, it also helps by prompting the potential customer into thinking about other aspects. By doing it this way, you will also get all of the information needed to correctly quote a product or service more effectively, without having to make additional phone calls to the customer. The more common way of requesting information is just by posting an INFO email address and hope that the person requesting the info knows enough about what he is looking for to provide all of the info to get a good quote. This is not usually the case. Most of the time they need a form to fill out. In most cases, there is info that is left out. A form ensures that you get everything needed to quote the product or service accurately. And, also, by offering a form to request more info, leads will be generating 24-7 for you. All you have to do is the quote and give them a call. This reduces the need for cold-calling, and gives you an excuse to call and close the deal.
If you incorporate all of the above pages, along with the “way” these pages should be shown, your website will have a higher ranking in the search engines, which puts your website higher in the search results, thus significantly increasing the traffic to your website!
The above categories aren't the only things you can do to increase traffic to your website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should also be done, as well as swapping links with relevant websites, and posting articles and links back to your website from online article and content websites.
To have an award-winning and specially-formulated website designed for your company,contact Michigan Tech Group TODAY at (810) 496-4595 or email us at info@MichiganTechGroup.com
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Good luck. I hope this article has helped you. If you live in the Lapeer, Genesee, or Tuscola County, Michigan areas, and would like an IT Professional to do a professional to help you in your home or business, please contact Michigan Tech Group at (810) 496-4595, or visit our website at www.MichiganTechGroup.com. You can email us at info@MichiganTechGroup.com.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I have worked in the IT field since 1989 and hold several Microsoft certifications. I am a network administrator and co-owner and co-operator of Michigan Tech Group, located in Flint, Michigan. During these years, I have supported both Macs and PCs, am an accomplished graphic and web designer, and have had the opportunity to support 2nd and 3rd level enterprise networks for GM, EDS, Delphi and Delco. If you would like to get in touch with me, you may do so at (810) 496-4595, or by email at jshutes@MichiganTechGroup.com. My website is www.MichiganTechGroup.com