5. Return Features
6. Analytic Software
10. Customer Support
1. Content is King
You will hear this is so many times it gets annoying especially from SEOs. Content is King, without content your website is dead, without content there is no reason for visitors to come check your site and if they do, they will have nothing to read / watch so they will just leave. Content is also what Search Engines such as Google and Yahoo look for to rank your site. Now that you know it's extremely important you're going to be faced by the next challenge... "But what on earth am I going to write on my website?" "My website is just an e-shop" "My site is just a portfolio". Don't worry you're not the first one that struggled to add content to their site. We've been there as well, our advice is to experiment and try out new things. If you have an e-shop write HONEST reviews about the products you sell, and if your site is a portfolio allow and encourage users to write comments and share on social networks.
TIP: I've bolded and capitalized the word honestly in the previous sentence for a very good reason, the human population is not stupid we all know when something is fake and we will not return to a site when we believe it has fake / incorrect info.
2. Websites don't need to sleep! Seriously!
Do I really need to explain this? DO NOT ALLOW YOUR WEBSITE TO GO OFFLINE! Users hate it and you loose money... Dig deep in your pockets and get redundant servers, you have spent hundreds if not not thousands of dollars on your website don't be a cheapskate on hosting. Find a decent hosting service, anything below 99.9% uptime is just not acceptable.
3. Why so slow bro?!
For the love of everything, make sure your website loads in under 2 seconds. Everybody hates slow websites, and most of us after 5 seconds waiting will close down a site believing it's unresponsive or broken. Google, Yahoo, Bing and a lot of other big brands have done extensive testing and research in this area and their research says it loud and clear; the more you wait for a site to load, the less likely you're going to read the content, return or even engage in simple tasks such as liking a blog post or sharing a picture. We are in an era where seconds mean lifetimes on the web.
PRO TIP: Don't be fooled by your web developer that shows you some fancy numbers... Do your own tests on website speed, a good one provided by Google is PageSpeed.
4. Designs in Paint are made to stay in Paint
I want to be clear here... You don't need an award winning design for your website but black and white tables will not cut it. A good website design is a design that you enjoy looking at and doesn't strain your eyes. On the other hand you don't want to take it to such extremes that your sites ends up super slow, balance is key here. You want to choose a set of colours that are neutral and eyes pleasing such as blues, greys, shades of white, darker reds, and some others. Also a good design is intuitive, nobody cares that you have the most amazing sliding and fading effects in the world ( well maybe I do, I love those ), your content and navigation must be visible and easy to use / find.
5. I've been on that site once
We see this happen so often it had to be placed here... You have an amazing site, super fast, ranks well and people just don't use it, BUT WHY?! There is a good chance that you have no return features. A return feature is a feature that encourages users to come back to your website and this can consist of many things here are some examples;
- -> Frequent Content Updates - Yes, people will come back to visit your website if you update content frequently and it is good content.
- -> Shareable Content - Cute kitten pictures do get shared every where!
- -> Community Blog - Having a blog where users can interact is a great way to keep your users engaged on your website and it a great way to get content on your site.
- -> One-time offers - When users know you make one-time offers on your website, they will come back to check if you put up new offers.
6. What do you know about your website and users?
It's astonishing how many people have no clue of what's going on, on their website. Analytic software is a must! Such software enables you to track which pages perform best and what your users are looking for thus helping you create better content, improve site design and implement feature to boost visitor count and sales. There are tons of analytic software around but we prefer Piwik and Google Analytics, they are both free and provide all the necessary tools for any website.
7. A server is the home of your website, Respect it!
This is such a big topic that we are creating an article just about hosting and all the possible options however let me give you a quick summary. As the title states, the server is the home of the website, without a server your website cannot be online so be sure to choose the right one. A shared hosting service is usually good for most small sites ( up to 1000 visits a week ), dedicated servers can handle a few hundred thousand visits a week while VPS ( Virtual Private Servers ) will scale with your visit count theoretically making them capable of handling unlimited amounts of visitors. With just that info you can already make a pretty good decision when buying server space another 2 things to keep in mind are; Server up-time and location. Make sure the server has at least a 99.9% uptime and if you plan to create a website for European visitors don't buy server space in the states but look for something in Europe and vice versa, it will make a huge difference on site load times.
8. Say my Brand Name!
What is this Branding? Where do I buy it? These are very common questions that come up when we start discussing branding with clients so let's get this straight... The word branding comes from the old way of detecting cattle, shepherds used to take a metal shape dip it in very hot fire and brand their cattle with it, however in business terms a brand is the way people recognize your product or company; for example we associate red wrappers with Coca-Cola because Coca-Cola has done a marvellous job along the years by consistently using a red background and white text for all their coke products. So now that we know what a brand is, make sure your website is properly branded with all your products. Don't make a redish website when your products all have a blue label. Be Consistent and try to place your brand name anywhere and everywhere so it sticks in people's minds.
9. Where can I find you?
This topic goes hand in hand with SEO( Search Engine Optimization ). It's useless to have a very strong brand, amazing site and best product line if people cannot find your website when searching for it on search engines, social networks, maps, directories, etc... Make sure you are listed in every possible directory that exists such as yellow pages, google, yahoo, facebook, google plus, twitter, maps, etc... Also make sure that you are not only listed however listed with your brand name so for example if your brand name is 'Amaze me Viagra' make sure that when people type variations of that phrase such as 'Amaze Erection' you are listed in the first few listings.
10. Your client is your life-line don't ignore him/her
I will keep this short. Add a contact form, contact details and respond to the messages you receive! The most successful features we implemented came from user feedback!