This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
A good website is one that drives web traffic and creates a positive experience for the users by giving visitors the information they came to the site to see. There are ways to ensure it does just that. Below are 19 simple tips you can follow to enhance your design, optimize your content, and improve your site’s overall structure—all of which make a significant impact.
Here are 19 things that make a good website that often fly under the radar:
1. Have a clear goal
Even before creating a website, be clear about what you want to achieve and how you’ll achieve it. Know your audience and your business from top to bottom: what do they like? What do they dislike? What do they need? Most importantly, what can you offer them that sets you apart from every other business offering the same thing?
By laying a solid foundation for your site, you can clearly figure out the finer details, like the type of design and copy your audience wants to hear.
2. Think of how you want to present your brand
More than your logo, branding encapsulates everything about your business. The tone of voice in your copy, how you converse with your customers, and even the layout on your site should be consistent with how you want your business perceived. Consistent branding strengthens your name. Your branding should instantly tell your customers everything about your story, values, and what sets you apart from your competitors.
3. Choose the right colors, fonts & images
Once you’ve narrowed down your goals and your branding, spend some time designing your website. Your site’s theme, images, fonts, and colors should work together to strengthen your branding across all platforms. More than branding, know that good design influences people, and both font and color influence the buying process.
4. Keep your site uncluttered & easy to navigate
A good user experience is more than just aesthetics. Part of providing a good user experience (UX) is making sure that anyone, even complete internet novices, can navigate your website without needing any help. You’re not appealing to only humans with UX; the user experience is a big part of SEO and can help boost your ranking on search engines.
5. More than design, use strong language
Aside from your tone of voice, think about how your copy is written. Most people don’t want to read a novel before getting to the important parts—in other words, get to the gist. Write strong, confident, authoritative, and succinct copy. You want your audience to know that you’re an expert in whatever field your small business is in.
6. Keep your call to actions clear, especially on the homepage
The gap between landing on your site and performing an action (like purchasing a product, learning more about a service, or contacting your business) is bridged by effective calls to action (CTAs). Your audience wants to be told what to do next, so craft clear, concise, and compelling CTAs.
Don’t leave your audience guessing either—because these statements send a strong message, make sure to include them clearly on your homepage.
7. Make your content easy to read
Keeping your words short and straightforward is always a good thing, but take a look at how your words are presented as well. Does your text utilize proper font hierarchy? Do its colors contrast with your background? Arranging and organizing your words properly make it easy for your readers to know where to find the information they’re looking for, adding to good user experience.
8. Give your readers valuable information
You may attract an audience through good visuals and optimization, but what are you doing to keep them on your site? Part of setting yourself apart from the competition is providing knowledgeable information about your industry or product that you should then be telling your audience.
Don’t be afraid to write longer, more informative articles. Aside from being good for UX, these also help you rank on search engines. To keep everything organized, create a blog with these top blogging platforms.
9. Perform keyword research & optimize your pages
Although good user experience is one of the most important tenets of building a business website, UX won’t mean much if there’s no user to benefit from it. Attract people to your site through search engine marketing or a strategy to increase website traffic. Before dealing with the more advanced tactics like paid ads, grow your site organically through search engine optimization (SEO).
The most basic thing to do is to research keywords using one of the many tools online, and insert these organically into your content. There are other optimization factors too. Most all-in-one website builders have SEO guides or walk-throughs to analyze your website and tell you what you’re missing. On WordPress, you can download a plugin like Yoast to help optimize your site.
10. Add pertinent information (e.g., maps & contact information)
According to a study from 2015, 44% of users will leave a website that doesn’t show proper contact information. Not including important information on your website makes your business seem untrustworthy or like you’re hiding something.
Go above and beyond and make sure all the details that can possibly be asked are on your website. If you’re selling services, add a price list. Don’t wait for customers to reach out to you, and proactively answer any basic questions they may ask.
11. Integrate other platforms
Outside of your website, where else can your business be found? Social media is an essential tool in marketing your business, so don’t miss out on creating a presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and other platforms where you can share your business and talk to your audience.
Include these social media links in your site in the form of social icon widgets or small graphics that link to your other accounts. To keep everything in one place across your site, make sure to include these—plus your basic information—on your site’s footer.
12. Be consistent across all platforms
Between worrying about design and language, you already have your hands full when building your website. In fact, this detail isn’t found on your site but rather on your social media accounts. It’s not enough to link your audience to your social media platforms, but you have to keep these platforms on-brand as well. Integrate your tone of voice, colors, font, and graphics into your social media posts, and your branding will come out even stronger.
13. Show your reviews & good publicity
Did you know that 93% of customers let reviews influence their purchase decisions? Prospective customers love seeing reviews from other buyers and good press from more established entities.
Having reviews and good publicity displayed on your website builds trust with your customers. Do this by embedding reviews from your other platforms on your website and building a press page to post all the positive mentions you’re getting from the media.
14. Utilize the tools available to you
No matter what industry you’re in, there are a slew of integrations you should be downloading to help improve your website’s UX. For example, if you’re interested in email marketing, integrations like Mailchimp and Constant Contact can help. For restaurants, make it easy for your customers to reserve tables through OpenTable. Use live chat integrations so your customers can get answers quickly.
Research the best third-party software for your business, and integrate them with your website.
15. Make sure your site loads quickly
The average user expects a website to load in a maximum of two seconds. Anything longer than that and the bounce rate increases exponentially, especially on mobile.
To keep your loading times low and your users happy, compress large file sizes, clean up your site’s code, and troubleshoot your site’s back-end. You can also build your site on a site builder like Squarespace or host your WordPress site on a web hosting service like Bluehost—two platforms known for quick page loading speeds.
16. Ensure your site has a mobile-first design
More and more people are using their mobile devices to browse and shop. Hence, ensure that you’re not neglecting your mobile audience by optimizing your site for mobile as well. In fact, you should be building your site with mobile-first design in mind—think of how your layout presents itself on a mobile screen, and work your way to the desktop. A better solution is to build using an all-in-one website builder with mobile-optimized templates, like Squarespace.
17. Create a sitemap
There are two major types of sitemaps: XML sitemaps, made for search engines to crawl through your site effectively, and HTML sitemaps, which help humans to navigate your website through internal links. Both are important for optimization purposes, as the former assists Google’s bots in determining whether or not your content is valuable, and the latter increases user experience.
18. Make sure your site is safe & secure
With so many websites handling personal information, hacking is becoming a huge problem for businesses of all sizes. You may think that your business is too small to attract a hacker. However, if you’re handling personal information or payment details of any kind, you should be taking cybersecurity very seriously. A simple mistake leading to a data breach can cost your business thousands of dollars, not to mention the loss of your customers’ trust.
More than an SSL certificate (which should be standard for your website), you should be utilizing other security measures like security plugins for WordPress. We recommend Sucuri, iThemes Security, and Jetpack—three well-rated plugins for protecting your valuable information.
For more insight into maintaining the integrity of your site, learn more about ways to secure your website.
19. Set up & learn how to use Google Analytics
Finally, know that building a beautiful, optimized website isn’t enough. You have to maintain it too. A large part of having a good website is website maintenance. Constantly check on and fix your bottlenecks, conduct A/B testing, and monitor your website to see where you can improve.
To help out with user experience, integrate Google Analytics into your site and see which pages catch your audience’s attention and which need tweaking. This way, you can make informed decisions and site improvements.
So many factors come into play when talking about what makes a good website. Overall, a good website not only catches the attention of your target audience, but also converts them into customers. Whether it’s by designing a beautiful site or by optimizing your site’s loading speeds, you need to give your audience what they’re looking for—fantastic user experience that will keep them coming back for more.
An even easier way to provide good UX is by building your site on Squarespace—an all-in-one site builder known for award-winning design and quick loading speeds. Try it out today.