Every modern business needs its own website. But this shouldn’t be some template job you’ve whipped together in twenty minutes. A good company website needs to stand out from the crowd – the internet is a busy high street and your website is its shop front. Design your website well and visitors will be more inclined to trust you and want to use your services. Here are just ten ingredients that every good company website needs.
1. A strong domain name
Your web address is the first thing you should think about. Domain name registrars such as NameCheap can sell you these affordable ‘.com’ addresses are the most expensive, but worth paying for given that they’re the most professional. Make sure to pay for an upgrade if you’re currently using a ‘.wordpress.com’ address.
Ideally, your domain should reflect your company’s brand name – if this is already taken, consider adding ‘company’ or ‘store’ or ‘ltd’ to the end of your brand name (i.e. ‘mangochutneycompany.com’ instead of ‘mangochutney.com’). A domain name should ideally be no more than three words so that people can easily make sense of it at a glance.
Make sure that these words don’t make up another word when placed together (e.g. ‘kidsexchange’ can be misread as ‘kid sex change’ instead of ‘kids exchange’!). Be careful of replacing numbers with letters – people should be able to hear your web address spoken and type it.
Any text on your website needs to be easily readable. This might sound obvious, but too many people building their own websites on WordPress fall trap to using the wrong coloured text over the wrong coloured background or using a bad font. If you’re not sure whether your text is easily readable, ask a friend or family member who hasn’t seen your website to tell you what they think of it at a glance.
The word usage is also important and it should flow naturally using terms people are easily familiar with. If you’re advertising a complex product, you may want to hire a content writer to do this for you so that you’re putting everything in layman’s terms. Make sure that everything is also snappy and that there are no long walls of text that could put visitors off.
3. Easy navigation
‘Navigation’ is a term for how easy your website is to find one’s way around. Users shouldn’t be struggling to find information such as contact details or log-in details. There should be an easily accessible toolbar that directs users to the most important pages.
If you’ve got lots of content on your website such as a large inventory of products or lots of blog posts, it could be worth adding a search bar so that people can quickly find the information that they want. There are search bar plug-ins that can allow you to add this feature to your site if you’re using a website builder like WordPress.
4. Fast page loading
A slow website will quickly put people off. There are multiple reasons why pages might be taking ages to load – you could be using too many plug-ins or simply be overloading your website with ads. If you’re using a website builder like WordPress, it could be worth getting help from a WordPress speed optimisation service to make your site run faster. Websites built from scratch are usually less likely to run slowly, although these do require someone with coding knowledge to build.
5. Search engine optimisation
The problem might not be that users are put off by your website when visiting, the problem might be that they’re not visiting in the first place because they can’t find your website to begin with. This is usually due to low search engine rankings (i.e. you appear on the tenth page of Google).
There are many ways to boost your rankings – a process known as search engine optimisation or SEO. Traditionally, website owners would stuff their sites full of keywords. Whilst keywords still play an important part, adding too many keywords nowadays can actually have negative effects, making your website appear and spammy and causing sites like Google to lower its rankings (too many keywords can also affect readability). Think natural when it comes to keywords. Other tactics such as backlinking may help to up your rankings, although you’ll most likely benefit from hiring the help of an SEO company to do this.
6. Clear brand identity
Your website needs to reflect your brand. If you’ve already got a logo that is used on t-shirts or business cards or a shop sign, make sure that this logo is also featured on your website. If you don’t have a logo already, it could be worth paying a logo designer to create one for you.
Make sure that the tone of the site reflects the tone of your business and isn’t too sombre or informal. This tone should remain the same on each page of your website. The font size and style and colours should also stay the same throughout – too many different fonts and colours might make your site and brand feel messy.
7. A good online reputation
A company website is a good place to show off your achievements as a business. Consider having a testimonials page for letting visitors know what previous clients have said about your company. You may even want to fix a quote from a happy client on the homepage of your website.
The internet has made it much harder to hide from critics with the likes of Google now offering reviews of companies that appear in the sidebar. Encourage happy clientele to leave positive reviews so that they always outweigh the bad reviews. Don’t try to actively hide from criticism on the web, as this could have a negative effect on your reputation by making people think you have something to hide (i.e. don’t disable comments sections or ratings).
8. Website security
Security is also paramount when owning a company website – both your security and potentially the security of your clients. Hackers are more commonly targeting company websites either to damage their reputation, steal private details or to redirect users for their own financial gain.
Visitors may know if your site isn’t secure and this is likely to put them off trusting your company. For example, if you allow transactions through your website, make sure that you’re using a secure payment platform such as PayPal or Authorise.net. If you or users can log in to your website, make sure that the log-in process is secure and that any passwords cannot be easily guessed (this is still the main method in which hackers will try to break entry into your site).
Various plug-ins can help to make your website more secure – it’s worth researching into these. These include firewalls and visitor monitoring plug-ins.
9. Social media integration
Having social media is becoming as important as having a website, offering a news feed for keeping you clients in the loop as well as attracting new business. If you have a Facebook and Twitter page for your business, it’s worth advertising these pages on your company website. Various plug-ins can allow people to quickly follow you on Twitter or like your page on Facebook from the homepage of your website.
Similarly, make sure that there’s a link to your company website on your Twitter and Facebook page. If you regularly post new content on your website such as blog posts, you can also use an automation tool that automatically posts this content on your Facebook and Twitter page.
10. Smartphone friendliness
Not everyone searching for your business will be using a PC. People are now using the internet on other devices such as tablets and smartphones, and your website will most likely display differently on these devices. Try searching your website on your phone and see if there are any major differences that may need adjusting.
There are lots of features specific to websites displayed on phones that are worth considering. If your company has an app, it could be worth advertising this to mobile users. You can also use AdWords extensions that can allow people searching your services on Google to quickly ring you without even clicking on your website.