Website 101: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Websites
People flock to the internet … why? To meet a need. Whether it’s to answer a question, buy a product or service, or solve a problem (and often it’s all three), you need to be the one they find (assuming you have their answer, the product they’re looking for, or the solution to their problem).
But who are they?
That’s one of the challenges of designing a website. First, you must create buyer personas so you have a target audience and know who to attract to your website. Then you must understand the issues your buyer personas are likely to have and know, explicitly, how YOU can solve them.What IS a website? What ISN'T a website?
A website isn’t about the products/services you sell. It also isn’t about you or your business (well, not entirely).
A website is about prospective customers and their needs. Your website’s goal is to communicate, explicitly, how you can meet those needs, and offer them proof via various types of content.
You can’t do this without (at least) these pages:
Why do you need a website?
Everyone is online, so websites put you where your prospects are:
- Americans spend 23.6 hours online per week
- Americans use their mobile devices up to 5 hours per day
- 97% of people go online to find a business
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine
- 5 billion searches happen on Google every day
- 30% of consumers won’t consider a business without a website
What should your website offer?
A business bio
Companies used to treat their websites as Yellow Pages ads or billboards. And that used to be ok.
It’s not ok anymore. Consumers expect to find everything about a business on its website, and they expect it almost instantly (you get 8 seconds). They want to know:
- Who you are
- What you do/offer
- How to contact you
Forty-six percent of visitors will leave if those things aren’t apparent in 8 seconds, 37% will leave because of difficult navigation and bad design, and – this is important – 88% of visitors won’t go back to a website after just one bad experience. (They say you never have a second chance to make a first impression, and online, you don’t get to make a second impression at all.)
You can’t prominently feature ALL the critical information visitors might want, of course, but you can make it easy to find with:
- A search bar
- Intuitive navigation
- An FAQ page
A blog. White papers. Webinars. Videos. Checklists. You can use content to convince visitors you know your stuff and can solve their problem. A variety of media types is critical now, as people like to consume information differently; some like to read, some like to watch, etc. And don’t forget to update – continually adding new content keeps you current, brings old visitors back, attracts new visitors, AND keeps search engines happy. (Here are our tips on where, how, and when to use content.)
A website teaches visitors about your business and should compel them to take the next step. But … what’s the next step?
If visitors don’t know, they can’t take it. Hence, calls-to-action. Calls-to-action are typically buttons that give commands: “Download our ebook,” “Call to schedule a consultation,” “Subscribe to our blog,” etc. They explicitly (important word!) tell visitors what to do.
In the past, only companies that sold products had SSL, which encrypts users’ connections so hackers can’t steal their data. Now you need an “https” site even if you don’t sell anything because only 3% of online shoppers say they’d enter their credit card or contact information on a site that’s not secure. If you don't have SSL, therefore, 97% of would-be clients will take their business elsewhere.
A mobile-ready version
Many people browse the internet on their phones and tablets (in 2017, mobile browsing overtook desktop/laptop browsing). However, because desktop/laptop browsing still exist, you need more than one version of your website. (Here are some tips for getting mobile-ready.)
Social media integration
Integrating your social profiles on your website encourages sharing, which is like letting other people do the work for you – more eyes see your content with no extra effort from you! Also, people believe other people before they believe businesses, so a post from “XYZ Business” holds less weight than the same post from “Sharon from high school.”
A final thought
According to a Capital One study, only 56% of small businesses have a website, which tells you two things:
- If you don’t have a website, 56% of businesses are doing better than you
- You can beat the other 44% by building a website
(In light of that, maybe anyone who says your business doesn’t need a website isn’t just wrong – maybe they’re also trying to steal your customers.)
Ready to build a website? Or improve the one you have? We’re good at both those things, so contact us for more information!
PS – You can also read our other website resources!
- How to Improve Your Website for 2019
- The Hierarchy of Useful Websites
- 12 Ways to Improve Your Website
- 8 Reasons Your Website Sucks
- Your Website Sucks? Here’s How to Fix It
- 3 free website analysis tools ... how does your site measure up?