Your website is not just a digital brochure for your business. In our digital information and commerce age, a website is now your digital storefront that exists for several important purposes, including:

  • Getting found– Your website should be optimized for search.
  • Establishing trust– Your website is a key element to building trust.
  • Educating– Your website should educate users how to recognize their problems and how you can solve them.
  • Nurturing – Capture user email addresses and continue to offer valuable content that is relevant to their stage in the customer journey.
  • Converting– Design conversion opportunities into your website to help guide the customer journey.

Most customer journeys start with online research. Internet users will often come to a buying decision before you even realize they need your products or services. Therefore, your website must contain elements that introduce users to your company and its services, and also guide them through the purchasing process. Below are the five basic elements every website must have to accomplish these goals. There are many more elements and refinements that will enhance your site’s effectiveness, but these five are absolute essentials.

An Attractive Homepage

Your homepage is the first impression on prospective clients, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. You WILL make an impression; but, will it be positive or negative? While it is not always the first page an internet user will land on, the homepage is generally the most visited page on any website. That means it must deliver your message quickly and give users a simple way to delve deeper into your site.
The first view of the homepage gives an immediate view of your company’s professionalism and style and showcases what you have to offer. You should clearly outline your services and give a preview of each section. Each preview should provide an invitation for how users can take a next step.
It’s always good to include trust elements somewhere on your homepage, whether they are logos of current customers or testimonials for users to peruse. Positive reviews, accolades, and testimonials are great ways to build trust and social proof. They show others that real people use your products or services and have found them worthy of recommending. Nothing sells like a personal recommendation.

Clear Website Navigation

Imagine being dropped into Walt Disney World without a map. That’s what it’s like for internet users when a search directs them to a page within a website that has no clear navigation menu. Most visitors will arrive on your website from deep search links, not from the homepage. A clear navigation menu allows visitors to find anything on your site, including the homepage and service pages. It’s a must to prevent user frustration and loss of possible customers. Navigation menus should be positioned and labeled consistently throughout the site for easy use.
Primary navigation directs visitors to the primary sections of your site. Local navigation helps move users between content within a section. Tertiary navigation helps move users around in content within a single page. Global navigation, similar to primary navigation, should be consistent throughout your site, and contain utility links like Settings, Log In/Log Out, Search, View Cart, Contact Us, and Help.

An Enticing Lead Magnet Offer

Businesses die without leads. Leads are names, email addresses, or other contact information you need in order to market your services or products to prospective customers. An enticing lead magnet can provide you the means to connect with interested parties and nurture their sense of need until they become customers. This is a primary role for your website, and the offer should occupy a prominent place on your homepage.
A lead magnet is anything that provides important free information on a subject that scratches where your audience has an itch. This information is obtained by the interested user when they submit their contact information via your site, usually a name and email address. In exchange for this valuable contact information, you provide them with valuable information about the topic in which they have an interest. Lead magnets can be white papers, video how-tos, eBooks, or anything else that provides a consumer with something of value.

Quality Content Updates

Offering free content to internet users is a fantastic way to demonstrate your expertise in your chosen profession. Up-to-date and relevant information that gives something of value to users provides proof of your knowledge and professionalism, and gives them the opportunity to consider your products or services. This content is often written, but can and should also include images, video, and downloadable extras, as well as a call to action for those needing more information or help. These articles are also fine places to promote your lead magnet.
Regularly updating and adding to your available free content keeps users coming back to your site for advice and help. More returns keep you uppermost in their mind regarding your chosen specialty. Every time users return they discover relevant and easy-to-grasp information that helps solve a problem. When they finally choose to book a service or purchase a product, your company will come to mind first. And links to help them do so are easily found in each piece of content you publish.

Call to Action

The easier you make it for users to become customers, the more likely they are to do so. Everything about your website, from the design to how content is presented, should have a purpose. That purpose is to generate sales of your products and/or services. A vital component of your website should therefore be various calls to action. Each piece of content, each major section, and each minor section should contain an enticing invitation for users to take further action.
That action can be to download more content, purchase your book, schedule a consultation, email their questions, or whatever action you need users to perform to move them along in the buying process. Use active words like “call now,” “register today,” and “Yes! I want it!” to illicit a response. Connecting the desired action to a specific time frame can also be helpful. Let users know if your offer is affected by limited time or quantities.
Well-designed websites represent your company well while guiding internet users through the sales funnel until they become customers. This type of website takes time to design and refine, but the benefits can more than outweigh the sum of your efforts and expenditures. What tips do you have for website design? What elements do you consider essential? We’d love for you to share your comments with our readers.

About the Author: Donna Amos

I believe you can achieve anything you truly want to achieve. “It might sound trite, but time and time again, I’ve seen it happen with my clients. They overcome the fear of exposing themselves to the possibility of failure to creating profitable exciting businesses. My clients do great work, and sometimes it only takes someone else believing in them to give them the confidence to step out and take the chance.”