No, we’re not exaggerating!
26 years ago the world’s very first website went live. If you want to check it out, visit: info.cern.ch.
The site is text only and was created by a British computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 while working at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).
It’s more than fair to say that websites have come a very long way since then. Colour graphics, video, hyperlinks, deep architecture and structure – the websites of 2016 are a far cry from the early days of the web.
So to help bring your website as close to 2016’s cutting edge as possible, here’s our top 20 requirements – there’s no particular order, but they’re all vital, so let’s get started.
1. A lead grabbing piece of content
When people come to your website, offer them something – a free guide, a book, a monthly newsletter – in exchange for an email address. That’s a lead you can follow up on and in 2016 this is fast becoming a standard.
2. Responsive presentation
Your website must be responsive to different devices and be able to look great whether viewed on an Apple iPhone, a HTC tablet with Android and a Dell PC. Without this, you can lose clicks and customers.
3. Lots of interesting content
The successful websites in 2016 and beyond will have plenty of great quality content for readers – everything from blogs to infographics, freely showing expertise while building a brand.
4. Make a statement
People buy your image as well as your product, so tell them what you stand for, what you believe in and what you want to achieve. Tailor your website’s copy to tell your story as much as possible.
5. A unique “About Us” page
Your About Us page should be as interesting, personal and memorable as possible – explain the why as much as the how. Customers want to know your story, not just a list of the awards and accolades your business has won.
Video is fast taking over the web. To be among the best, create and then embed video content on your site. It can be anything from a guided tour of your facilities to an interview with the boss. A great video will bring eyeballs to your site and help generate leads.
7. Newsletter subscriptions
A regular electronic newsletter is a brilliant way to connect with your customers to keep them abreast of all your new developments. It’s also a razor sharp piece of marketing that allows you to build up your brand, develop trust and make sales. By offering a newsletter through an email subscription, you can build up a big database of potential sales and spread your business’s reach far and wide.
8. Simple, effective architecture
Your website should be so easy to use that it feels instinctive. Clear menus, easy to read pages and responsive search features will help create an enjoyable user experience and will ensure your site is an effective business tool.
9. Top level security
Internet security is a huge issue and your website must be as secure and safe as possible, especially if it’s designed to handle private and financial details. The more safety features you have, the more trust your customers will have.
One of the quickest ways to lose your search traffic is through having your website hacked or infected with Malware. Keep on top of your website updates and security.
10. User Tracking and Analytics
The back end of modern websites can offer an amazing array of data that details what your customers are looking at, searching for and interacting with. By implementing user tracking and analytics, you can understand your customers and client behaviour and use them to tailor your content and appearance to maximise traffic flow and eliminate weak spots. By harnessing the power of data with user tracking, you can offer a greatly enhanced user experience and ensure your website performs at the highest level.
11. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
In a nutshell, you need to ensure that big search engines like Google can find your content easily. It’s also worth investing some time in optimising for other search engines like Bing or Yahoo as these may allow you to rank a touch more easily and pick up some extra traffic.
12. Long scroll
Traditionally, most websites are designed to put their best, most striking content ‘above the fold’ at the top of the main page, with the rest accessible by scrolling down. With the proliferation of mobile devices, scrolling is now standard, so you can spread your content out. A striking image or page layout “above the fold” can be used to lure people into scrolling down, providing a compelling, deep experience where you can show off all of your great content.
13. No more stock
Stock images and stock icons are a well-used short cut for many websites. They can allow a site to be built quickly, but the downside is they are unoriginal and date quickly. Many sites are now ditching their stock elements in favour of using their own images and designing their own icons. By using more organic elements, you can make your website look much more interesting and unique – and it will be a truer representation of you and what you stand for.
14. A blog
We said earlier that content is king – and a blog holds the keys to the kingdom. Make your posts as interesting, fact filled and sharp as possible and you’ll build up a readership and authority in your sector.
15. Easy to use contacts page
The purpose of a website should be to generate leads – and a contacts page that’s easy to navigate is crucial. Have all of your details listed; make sure they’re accurate and up-to-date.
It is also wise to have a phone number, email or contact form on every page of your website. Don’t make users go looking for a way to contact you. If you are using a phone number anywhere, make sure its ‘click to call’ on mobile devices.
16. Dedicated service pages
You should have one, tailor-made page for each product or service that you offer, with the home page taking care of everything else. Keep the site neat and clutter-free.
By segmenting all of your services you have a better chance of converting relevant traffic from paid and organic search.
17. Sharp, relevant graphics and great design
Yes, there are great ‘Do-it-Yourself’ website builders out there, but just because the tools are good doesn’t mean you will be the best person to use them. If you aren’t sure about design and what you are capable of building, hire an expert.
There’s no excuse for a poor-looking website anymore. Invest in a good-looking site and you’ll see the benefits, but make sure the look and feel fits your brand.
18. Social Proof
In other words: show, don’t tell. If your website makes a range of claims about the quality of your service or your skills, you need to back it up with some proof. Things like customer testimonials, case studies and social medial elements like live feeds can help you illustrate what impact you are having on the world. This will give you far more credibility and authority and may even result in increased traffic.
19. Fast loading time
Website loading speed can be tweaked to almost light speed levels if you hire an expert or get your team onto it. Images can be compressed, or you could even introduce a content delivery network to help serve your website data. A fast website will result in more interactions, more leads and better results in search engines.
20. Micro interactions
Micro interactions are where a person using your website encounters prompts, messages, effects and movements that give them an enhanced feeling of truly interacting with your content. An example of this would be a simple animation when a button is interacted with, giving a feeling of realness and control. Micro interactions are sure to become more common and ever more sophisticated, so get ahead of the curve and think how they can become a part of your site.
In 2016, technology has advanced so far and become so accessible that the websites developed by the world’s best companies can be at the same level of quality as even the smallest firms. Want your business’ website to be up there with the best? Speak with the web design experts at SponsoredLinX today on 1300 859 600.