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Five key elements to an effective website

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It’s not enough anymore to just have a website. Your website should convey a feeling of professionalism and contain enough information to convince someone to do business with you. A good website will reflect well on you and your business and it promotes a sense of credibility. In addition, an effective website gives current and potential clients a way to connect with you and to learn more the services that you offer.

What makes an effective website?

The five key elements to an effective website include:

  1. Appearance
  2. Content
  3. Functionality
  4. Usability
  5. Search engine optimization

1. Appearance

For many people, their first interaction with your business will be through your website. For this reason, it is important to make the experience a good one. If it’s frustrating, they may assume that doing business with you will also be frustrating. At this point you may be asking, what does this have to do with appearance?

You may be tempted to be innovative with the look of your site, but now is not the time to be experimental. Instead, you should present your site visitor with a safe space, where they feel comfortable and at ease, not confused. When someone lands on your site, it must be blatantly obvious and self-explanatory how it works.

Most people do not have unlimited time. In order for them to find what they need quickly and easily, the navigation and structure should be clear, the visual cues obvious, and the path easy to follow. Conventional design isn’t boring. Conventions reduce the need for the user to figure things out. This gives the user more time to read your information or look at your products.

2. Content

I am a designer first, so how a site looks is important to me. But it is often the case that too much time and energy is spent on how a site looks. Too little time is spent thinking about what information the site visitor is likely looking for, and what information will convert them from a visitor to a customer. The single most important element of any website is the information it contains.

But what is content?

Content is the information, the text and the images, on a website. Content is what drives people to your site, it’s what keeps them there, and it’s what brings them back. Most importantly, content is what will ultimately convince a user that you are a good match for what they need. Content is the essential factor in compelling them to do business with you – or not.

Not sure what content you need? See our blog post “Content Ideas to Drive Website Traffic”.

3. Functionality

A good website should be easy to navigate. This means that the navigation buttons should be large and easy to read and use. It should also indicate where a user is on the site and where they’ve been already. The URL of each page should be concise and descriptive, and ideally, memorable.

4. Usability

Consistent uncluttered layouts and intuitive navigation both contribute to making a site easy to use. To ensure that a website works equally well on all devices, the site must be responsive. It is also important that websites work on multiple browsers and that content is up-to-date, relevant and free of broken links. Finally, the site should load fast.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” SEO is the effort to make your website more prominent in the results returned by search engines.

Let’s say you want to find the lobby hours of your local bank branch. First, you go to your computer or phone, open a web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or another), then go to your favorite search engine (google.com, yahoo.com, bing.com, or another). Then, you type in words you think will bring up the information you’re looking for.

At this point the search engine tries to match your term with the details it found on the websites it has indexed. But with over a billion active websites in the world right now, how does the search engine judge which sites are likely to be the best match? The answer to this question is the basis of all SEO efforts.

Each search engine has its own set of factors that it uses to determine which entries to display and in what order. The search engines consider structure, content, markup and many other things. Do other websites in your industry link to your site? Is your website getting much traffic? How are visitors spending their time on your site?

What’s next?

If you’re interested in having a more effective website, or you don’t have a website yet but know that you need one, give us a call. We can help. Learn more about our website design and development services or give us a call at 518.392.0846.

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