7 Essential Features of an Effective Web Site
Web sites have changed dramatically since I starting doing business online over 10 years ago. When I look back at some of my old sites, I cringe at how unprofessional they seem. Unfortunately, I’ve also run across sites currently in use that I can easily identify as really ugly 1997 Frontpage sites, but they must still be working for the business owner, despite the unattractive appearance. Then Flash sites and Frames sites took the Internet world by storm, and that, too, passed. Now the trend runs to creating web site/blog hybrid sites, or blogsites, that run on the WordPress platform.
Some elements remain the same, regardless of the age of your site. A professional, quick-loading design with clear navigation is mandatory, as you don’t want your site design to distract from the content, and your visitors need to easily understand how to get from Point A to Point B on your site. Benefits-oriented copy is still key (your visitor is asking, “What’s In It For Me?”) as well as strong, compelling headlines. Social proof in terms of testimonials from happy customers, as well as examples of your work, as necessary, helps convince your visitor that you can do what you say you do. Keyword optimized pages permit searchers to find you by using one of the search engines. Lastly, an About and Contact page permit the visitor to get to know a bit about you, as well as how to contact you.
What additional features should a site in the second decade of the 21st century contain? Here are my suggestions for the top mandatory items today’s web sites need to be successful:
1. Links to social networking sites. Today visitors want to connect and want to check you out before deciding to do business with you. A great way to do that is to let them see what you have to say on the social networking sites on which you participate. Offer them the opportunity to follow you there, or if you have a Facebook page, give them an incentive to “like” your page.
2. Content Management System. No longer should you be held captive by your webmaster. If your site is created on a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, it’s pretty easy to go in and update your site yourself, if you choose to. I think it’s imperative that a business owner be able to update her site immediately if she needs to.
3. Mobile marketing version. With the skyrocketing use of Smartphones comes the ability to browse online from your phone. However, your mobile site should not simply be a simpler version of your primary site. When you design your mobile site, you need to keep in mind that the mobile user is seeking something different than the desktop user. In order to determine what that might be for your business, ask yourself the following: What does my customer REALLY need when searching for a business like mine on her mobile phone? It may be directions or hours of operation or your services description or a coupon. It’s important to get into the head of your customer when determining what to include in your mobile site.
4. Regularly updated blog. Content is still king in the new millennium, and keeping your blog regularly updated with new content gives visitors a reason to return to your blog time and time again. Regularly submitting blog posts will enable you to create an authority site in your niche for your target market in a short period of time.
5. Share your content on social media. Make it easy for your visitor to share what she has discovered on your site by adding the ability to do things like retweet you blog posts on Twitter, like them on Facebook, comment about them on Facebook, and post them on social bookmarking sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, or Technorati.
6. Audio and video. Creating and uploading audio and video to sites has become pretty simple. You can easily record a video or audio greeting and quickly upload that your site, or create a longer instructional-type video and upload that to a video sharing site, like YouTube, to drive traffic back to your site. Web site visitors are in love with video, so take some time to determine how to best use this medium on your site.
7. Incentive to opt into your list. An email marketing list is still a primary asset in your business, and you need to provide a great incentive to entice your visitor to part with her name and email address and possibly cell phone number. I refer to this incentive as your Client Attraction Device, and it is typically a PDF ebook, video, or ecourse that answers a commonly-held problem of your target market. From your mobile site, you may want to create a shortcode, i.e. Send "THISWORD" to 555555, to get someone to opt into your text messaging list, and then have them have them insert their email address to get the coupon, free report, video, etc. that you promised.
Take Action Strategy
A web site is never a “fix it and forget it” solution. Like the interior of a retail store, you need to continue to improve, add to, and update the look, feel, and content of your site to remain relevant to visitors. If you are missing some of these features in your site, take some time to plan how you might add these to enhance the effectiveness of your web site.
Introvert Marketing Coach Donna Gunter helps professional service businesses stop the client chase and create online businesses that drive clients to them. Want to learn specific Internet marketing strategies that get results for introverts? Discover how to increase your online visibility in this free ecourse, Introvert Marketing Toolkit: 9 Strategies to Make a BOLD Impression Online, at ==> http://www.IntrovertMarketingToolkit.com