5 Cornerstones for Websites that Convert

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Websites that convert
If your business doesn’t have a website, tough luck. In a connected world, zero online presence means you don’t exist. A website has become as essential in business today as your company name and the product or service that you offer.

That’s why there’s a huge market for website development services these days. We’ve all seen their ads. And if you check out freelance job boards, you’d notice a slew of web designers all claiming they can do the same. They all promise to build your company a beautiful custom website.

But you don’t need just any website. It’s so easy to have a website these days. Even a five-year old can go to Wix and have a decent-looking website up and running in no time. You need a website that actually converts visitors into customers.

A lot goes into building a website that actually support your business. But distilling all the artsy and techie details, you need a website that has the features that promote reach, engagement and conversions.
Here are five cornerstones to a website that sells:

Available

It’s tough not having a website address that’s not your company or brand name. However, people should be able to easily find your website. For one, it pays if they know and remember what URL to type. This means you should establish a memorable and relevant brand name, along with a URL that goes with it.

Consider registering your domain from reputable registrars like Namecheap or Hover for multiple years, so you don’t run the risk of the domain expiring when you least expect it. You’d also need a web host that has consistent uptime–fast infrastructure is critical. Cloud hosting (like what Amazon or Rackspace offer) has become a popular option if you are looking to scale.

Make sure your website actually loads, and that it loads fast. According to Google webmaster tools, a website should load somewhere between 0.5 to 2 seconds. Else, visitors might bail. That’s how fickle online audiences are these days. You can always have your web designer and developer work with page load times in mind. There are plenty of optimization techniques pros use to achieve quicker load times.

On the infrastructure end, deploying a content delivery network (CDN) reduces load times by caching your content in servers near your visitors’ locations. Cloud based services like Incapsula even dynamically combines CDNs with added security features such as denial-of-service attack protection so that Internet baddies will not be able to prevent potential customers from accessing your site.

Beautiful

First impressions count. Whether or not a visitor stays can be decided in as little as 50 milliseconds all based on your website’s visual appeal. But besides looking good, looking unique counts even more.

The rise of turnkey content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Drupal led to the availability of free and paid themes and skins. They can be pretty. But since these designs are off the shelf, there is a risk that your site may sport the very same look as some other website out there. So being unique separates your website from the rest, especially your competitors. Invest in a good designer. It pays off.

If you will be using photos, try not to use stock images, especially the free public domain ones. At the very least, consider getting paid ones from Shutterstock or Getty Images, and make sure that they communicate messages consistent with your branding. Or, if you can invest, get a photographer who can shoot compelling product and feature images that tell your brand’s story.

Internet activity is also shifting mainly to mobile devices which means your website should display correctly across a variety of screens. Responsive design takes care of this. It’s a technique applied by web designers to make sure that your site’s design and functionalities adapt to changes in screen size.

Intuitive

When visitors arrive on your website, will they be able to find and do what they need without a lengthy tutorial or user manual? Usability is about creating a seamless and satisfying user experience (UX) by developing an intuitive user interface (UI).

Your navigation, buttons, and arrangement of elements should feel familiar. The sections and categories of your site should be logically arranged. And make sure everything works. Buttons should do something when clicked or tapped. No links should send visitors to a dreaded Error 404 page. No pages that are “under construction.”

Users should always have a sense of where they are and what they are doing. Consider implementing micro-interactions. These are those animations and feedback mechanisms that inform viewers that they have interacted with an element in your site.

Engaging

People do Internet searches, because they have an itch that they need scratched. Which means they found your page because they have that need you may be able to solve with the products or services that you offer. If your homepage doesn’t lead your visitors to consider the products or services your company offers, then your site’s not doing its job.

Part of great UX/UI is engaging and leading your customers to an action that’s mutually beneficial to them and your business. Your site should reflect a well-orchestrated user story–what happens the moment your home page loads and until they act on your call to action. If you’re engaged in ecommerce, then you’d want to have a cart or store feature that lets visitors buy the actual products. For some businesses, having them give you information like their name and contact details so you can reach back.

At the end of the interaction, your visitor must have that sense of accomplishment that they have done something to address their need and that you have helped them.

Useful

While a great part of you’re trying to do is to sell, you can also consider how your website can give additional value to your visitors outside of being able to acquire products or services. Many businesses try to provide value to their website through content like blogs and video. These give you the opportunity to educate beyond your service or product. Up-to-date and relevant content about your industry also enhances your credibility. Expertise is a great come on for potential buyers, and by offering this free of charge, you can further establish that you are around to help them with their needs.

You can also try offering a token in return for their time. This could be a coupon or a gift or a trial of the product or service. Some even configure their service packages to offer a free tier so that users can enjoy the product free of cost. It’s easy to entice once they are convinced of the value you bring. These things help build trust and a relationship which can be easily parlayed into sales.

The Bottomline

There are a lot of intricacies to be considered when putting up a website. Your company’s online presence of little use if it can’t help you engage your market and convert visitors into customers. Make the proper investment in developing your website, and make sure your website features all of these cornerstones.

Here’s a bonus tip: Consider incorporating analytics into your website. This allows you to track their behaviors and even their demographics. Based on the data, you can adjust your website accordingly. Keep in mind that your website is still a part of your brand machine. If your product or services by themselves are weak, your website can only do so much to convince people to try them out.

Image Source: Pixabay CCO Public Domain

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