A great website is probably the most important thing you can invest in when you’re first getting your company up and running. More than just a place for your customers to buy from your new startup, your website is an introduction to your brand, your vision, and your mission.
A great website has the potential to transform casual visitors into advocates for your brand, and to expand awareness for your company across your target market. Your website will also be the first place potential investors visit when determining whether you deserve their capital.
So, how do you make sure your website makes the right impression?
The easiest answer is to learn from the experts.
Every website you’ll visit online today has its own unique design, features, and functionality. However, if you go beyond the branding and the different products or services for sale, you’ll find that many of the top-performing sites have a few basic similarities.
Here are three key elements that you should prioritize in your website, based on attributes that all the top-ranking websites today share in common.
An Intuitive User-Led Interface
If there’s one thing that guarantees a visitor will leave your website, never to return, it’s a bad user experience. What’s more, 57% of users say they wouldn’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website – even if they like the product. This means one of the most important things you can focus on when you’re designing your website, is an intuitive user-led interface.
To make sure your user interface makes sense for your customers, test everything from the perspective of a user. Ask yourself how easy it would be to find your product pages or contact page if you were arriving on your website for the first time. Practice adding items to your cart and going through the checkout on multiple devices to see if anything is clunky or difficult.
Wikipedia is one of the world’s most-visited websites, and it’s also one of the easiest to use. From the moment you arrive on the homepage, you get a simple search bar, and the option to choose your preferred language.
More importantly, every part of the experience of browsing through Wikipedia is intuitive and connected. If you search for “car,” you’ll be taken to a page with a “Contents” sidebar, so you can easily skip to the information you need without having to scroll through endless content.
You’ll also get links to other relevant content on that page, so you can continue your research without returning to the search bar. The experience feels fluid and simple – and it works great on any device.
Attractive and Consistent Branding
Your website should give an excellent first impression of your startup.
If anything looks old-fashioned or outdated, then you’re instantly going to lose the trust of your audience. In fact, around 75% of customers say they make judgements about a company’s credibility based on web design alone.
With that in mind, think about the image you’re sending with your web design. How can you ensure you carry the same brand image from one page to the next, by using consistent color schemes and typography? Can you make the experience more aesthetically appealing using basic design principles like white space and structure?
It’s also worth remembering that what looks “attractive” to your audience will change over time.
For example, YouTube, another top traffic draw, constantly updates its image to adhere to current standards. In recent years, they’ve added elements like topic tabs with rounded buttons and minimalist side navigation menus, making the content people want more accessible while maintaining a contemporary aesthetic.
Keeping on top of the trends common within your industry will ensure you don’t fall behind the trends and end up looking outdated.
Remember, ensuring your website looks great also means making sure its appearance remains consistently attractive across all devices. Your site should have the same brand appeal for customers on desktops as it does on mobile.
Last but not least, all of the best websites online today thrive because they’re committed to offering their customers the best possible content. We’re not just talking about ecommerce sites with blogs, or news websites. Every leading website has something valuable, entertaining, or interesting to offer.
If your website isn’t offering your customers anything valuable, then you’re not going to convince them to keep coming back for more.
Look at Twitter, for instance. To make sure customers get the best possible experience when they arrive on the Twitter platform, the social media site suggests content you might be interested in seeing, and offers advice on “Who to follow.”
This is a similar strategy among a lot of top websites. Amazon gives you suggestions on products you can look at based on what’s trending at the moment and what’s relevant to your personal interests. Many news websites show you the hottest, most trending content first to deliver a more immediately immersive experience.
If you want your customers to keep coming back to your website, provide them with an experience that helps them to find all the value you have to offer as quickly and conveniently as possible.
Take Notes from the Greats
While your website is bound to have unique elements to it, from the products and services you sell, to the branding assets you use, there are certain golden rules every website should follow.
Follow in the footsteps of the companies mentioned above by making sure your site has excellent content, a fantastic design, and a great user interface. Not only will this ensure you have something in common with the top-rated sites on the web, it’ll also mean your website has the critical pillars it needs to succeed online.