The Key Elements of a Website: A Checklist for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

For many of your customers, the first impression that they have with your business and your brand will come in the form of your website. A well-designed, thoughtful website is the best kind of marketing tool – the one that doesn’t need to eat or sleep and that does its job 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A poorly constructed site is, well… the exact opposite of that. As you and your team sit down to design a website for your small or medium-sized business, there are a few specific elements that you’ll want to make sure you’ve included.

Header and Logo

The importance of including both a header and a logo on your website cannot be overstated enough. For starters, they’re both incredibly helpful in terms of building brand continuity – they’re usually the first things that people look at when they visit your page and they’re elements that your visitors expect to be included. Making sure that the logo on your website also matches the logo on other materials (like your social media channels or even print materials) is also helpful in terms of making all of your content feel like it’s coming from the same place. It builds instant trust and immediate brand recognition. Your logo in particular is also important for another reason – navigation. Many people assume that the logo on a website is something akin to a “Home” button. They can click on it from any other page and automatically be redirected to your home page – or at least, that’s the way it should work.

Simple Navigation

When designing a website, you always need to make navigation decisions with simplicity in mind. You need to make it painfully obvious for users how to access the content they’re looking for or how to naturally discover more information about the products and services that you offer. If your site is too difficult to navigate – especially on a touch screen interface or other smaller mobile device – they’re going to go elsewhere to find what they need.

Opt-In Offer

You’ll also want to include some type of opt-in offer almost immediately after the page loads. Start directing your visitors to take action immediately and if the offer is compelling enough, they will. This can be something as simple as asking people to provide their e-mail address to sign up for your mailing list. If you prime people for engagement with your site immediately, rest assured that this will carry through to the rest of their experience, too.

Sidebar with Appealing Content

Including a sidebar with appealing content is also helpful for a few different reasons. For starters, it feeds directly back into that “Simple Navigation” point – a sidebar stays in place regardless of where the user goes on your site, which is helpful from their perspective in terms of finding the content they need. If you populate that site with links to your site’s most appealing content, it also helps direct the user precisely where you want them to go as quickly as possible.

Conversion Focused Pages

In terms of a small or medium-sized business, websites ultimately won’t mean a thing if they aren’t optimized with the most important goal of them all in mind: conversions. You have a specific action that you want the user to take, whether it’s to buy a product or service or contact you for more information. You need to make sure your pages are built in a way that makes this A) obvious and B) incredibly easy. Include detailed calls-to-action whenever and wherever you can to help accomplish this goal. If you explain what action you want someone to take and why they should care in the first place, rest assured they’ll follow your lead.

Video Throughout Site

In terms of the modern day business website, video is also a hugely important element for a number of reasons. Not only does it make your site more compelling and engaging, but it also convinces people to stick around far longer than they would if they were greeted by a wall of text. Take a look at some of the following statistics:
  • Including just a single video on a landing page can increase the conversion rates of that page by as much as 80%.
  • 92% of mobile video consumers who responded to a survey said that they’re very likely to share video content they like with others.
  • If you combine video with full page ads, you have the potential to boost engagement by up to 22%.
  • After watching just a single video, 64% of Internet users said that they were “much more likely” to buy a product online.

A Blog

It’s a content marketing world – we’re just living in it. In terms of your website, your blog is one of the most important ways that you can take full advantage of this fact. Thanks to the fact that 200 million people now use ad blockers, blogs are more important than ever. With a well-crafted piece of content you can sell to someone AND inform them in a way that they actively want. Blogs are also essential because they’re easy to update – something that plays an important role in your SEO rankings on search engines like Google.

Social Media Connections

Another factor that will greatly help that ever-important SEO ranking involves the way that you embrace social media. Links to your social media channels should be on EVERY page. If someone wants to share a blog post on Facebook or tweet about a great new product you just released on Twitter, they shouldn’t have to worry very hard to do that at all. They’re essentially promoting your product for you – why would you want to make that difficult? Including links to your Facebook and Twitter feeds across your site also registers as an update in the eyes of Google, which again will help your SEO ranking considerably.

Contact Info on Each Page

These days, the only thing more important than SEO in general is local SEO. Including your contact information on each and every page will help tremendously to that end. Make sure that your business name, full address, telephone number, email address and more is all included. You could even go an extra step and include an interactive map to get to your directions if you prefer.

Mobile Friendly

Let’s get one thing clear: making sure that your website runs as well as it can on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets is no longer a recommendation. It is a hard and firm requirement. According to a study conducted by Pew Research, 77% of people now own a smartphone. More than that, many of them use that device as their primary Internet connection throughout the day. A huge number of them prefer to shop on mobile devices, too. If your page runs poorly on an iPhone, you’re potentially leaving a huge amount of money on the table.

Analytics and Search Console Installed

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your small to medium-sized business’ website has analytics properly installed and a search console set up correctly. Part of success in the digital age involves learning as much about your audience as you possibly can. If you know more about what they like and dislike, you’re in a much better position to give them all of the former and none of the latter. Analytics will tell you not just who is interacting with your site, but how. It’ll show you which pages they love and which pages make them leave and never come back. All of this is actionable information that you and your team can use to actively improve your site, the experience it offers and even your entire business moving forward