Five Things Every Successful Website Has

Stephen McCance July 26, 2016

At Red Cow, we do a lot of conversion optimisation and website SEO migrations for clients and we’re often left a bit bemused at the functionality of some websites.

We opt to stick to what we’re fantastic at with search marketing  so we don’t build sites ourselves, but we have considerable experience in working with sites that work at their purpose in generating business for clients, and those that just don’t. What we’ve found is that there are a number of absolute staples that all successful websites have, which is consistent across industries. Here are some of our absolute must haves in order for your website to perform as you want it to:

1. Clear structure and navigation
Your website can look fantastic design-wise, but if it’s a nightmare for users to navigate and find their way around then you might as well not have bothered. When we’re doing user testing for conversion optimization, this is one of the most common issues that anonymous users report on. When you’re so close to your own website and know it inside out, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees and realise that a layman, i.e. your target customer, can’t find what they’re looking for. If they can’t find what they’re looking for then they can’t convert….see where we’re going with this?

2. Calls to action
Calls to action can be subtle, or salesy depending upon your product/service and your target audience. Different types of user will respond better to different types of messaging, so it’s important to know who your audience is likely to be, and to conduct testing on your calls to action. Whilst this can and should be done on an ongoing basis as part of you digital marketing strategy, you’ll need a starting point and you’ll want it to be one that’s going to engage people. We often have to battle with clients and web development companies during client website builds as they never seem to want obvious calls to action above the fold. 9 times out of 10 we’ll win the debate when they’re presented with the stats, since many users don’t scroll past a certain point, no matter how fancy your footer design is.

3. Informative content
When we say ‘informative’, we mean just that. Don’t get carried away with terminology that will get the average user all kerfuffled – people are instantly switched off if they don’t understand what your site is about. Whilst you’re obviously an expert in your field, your customer likely won’t be, so don’t try to confuse them with terms that they, frankly, don’t care about. At a basic level, tell them what you do, why they need it, and how to purchase or enquire.

4. Goals
Whilst this one isn’t a component of your actual website itself, it’s not a case, as many people often think it is, of ‘build it and they will come’. With this in mind, your website should have a clearly defined purpose and it should be built with your next steps in mind so that it can be tailored towards that activity if need be. How are you going to promote it? Does it need to be optimised? Do you need to be able to edit it frequently? Are you selling internationally? There is so much to consider and, unfortunately, not all web development companies are up to speed with what comes afterwards, so choose wisely or consult experts in the field you’re looking to engage after the build is complete.

5. Consistent design with high quality imagery
Ok, so this point is kind of obvious, but there’s nothing that screams ‘amateurish’ like inconsistent colour schemes, font types/sizes and pixelated images. The design of your site is enough to convince a user to become a customer, or it could put them off your company for life, so it’s important that it reflects your brand and what you’re about as a company.

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