Too often we see websites missing simple items and integrations that can greatly impact their overall potential. In today's blog post we are going to look at 5 things that every website should have regardless of their purpose.
The more information you can gather about your audience the better chance you have at meeting their needs. Analytics is the process of recording visitor browsing behaviour on your website. The information is then provided to you in easy to understand graphs. There are a number of service providers that offer this functionality including Google, Hotjar, Kissmetrics, Clicky and SE Ranking. In this article we will be focusing on Google Analytics and Hotjar as they are both free (paid accounts available) and they are industry standards.
Google Analytics is by far the most popular analytical tool available and is largely considered the industry standard. It is free up to 50 properties (each property is a website) and they also offer a paid plan for those who need wider options for integrations and additional properties. The free plain is usually more than enough for most business however if you run a digital agency where you manage your clients analytic accounts, you might want to consider forking up the monthly fee.
Google Analytics is capable of tracking visitor statistics in real-time giving you the latest data on how many users are on your website and what content they are looking at. Others features of Google Analytics include:
- Visitor tacking at a per page level
- Viewing bounce rates at a per page level
- Track the geographic location of your audience and what device, browser and operating system they are accessing your site from
- Track the time your audience spends on each page they visit
- Integration with Google Adwords
- Revenue tracking for e-commerce
- and the list goes on and on...
If you run a business website and you don't have Google Analytics installed, take a few minutes and sign up for a free account. The insight it provides into your audience is priceless and key when trying to create an engaging product that produces successful results. You can sign up to Google Analytics at https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/
Where Google Analytics is great at showing you data, Hotjar will show you visually what your audience is doing using heatmap technology. Heatmaps allow you to see where users position their cursor on your site and capture click rates on buttons. This information is then placed on top of a screenshot of your website and enables you to see what content is considered important to your audience. Additionally, Hotjar can also perform visitor recordings which you can then watch as a video in your admin panel. There in nothing more informative then being able to watch how your audience interacts with your website.
Hotjar offers a free plan and you can sign up at https://www.hotjar.com/.
2. Lead Capture
Your website is a marketing tool, and like all marketing tools it is designed to capture leads. The process of lead capturing is to get your audience to contact you for information on your services or products. With your amazing sales skills you would then convert the lead to a successful sale. There are a number options available for lead capturing but online forms may well be one of the best and simplest methods. A popular method of lead capturing is a subscription form which adds a users email to a mailing list. All emails addresses in this list would receive marketing material in the form a monthly email that promotes services or sales on products.
Now, it can be hard work getting an email address just because you asked for it. What works much better is offering some sort on incentive in exchange for their personal information. For example, "Subscribe now and receive a free e-book on how to generate $1000 a week using drop shipping!" Now that headline is sure to spark some interests. All jokes aside this works and every website should integrate lead capturing techniques regardless if they seem tacky. It needs to be a subtle and you never want to come across as pushy or invasive.
3. Clear Contact Details
Have you ever been to a website where it has taken a considerable amount of effort to find out how to make contact with them? It doesn't create an enjoyable user experience and costs the business money due to missed enquiries. Your audience should never have to look too hard for contact details and therefore they should be easily found on every page of your website. People are lazy, inpatient and often get easily frustrated with technology. The simpler you make it for them to find your email, phone number and address, the better. It will also produce more business.
We recommend the phone number of your business to be easily seen in your websites header, with added functionality for it to auto-dial your business phone number when pressed on mobile devices. All other contact information including email, address and social media profiles, should be available in the footer of your site.
4. Quality Content and Visual Media
The old web proverb, 'Content is King', is still valid to this day. People visit your website with the expectation that they will find quality content that will fulfil their Googling needs. Poor content is a sure fire way to lose potential customers. It is often the business owners or their staff that will write website content and although they are the ones who know their business best, they are often not highly skilled at marketing. A website is a powerful marketing tool, therefore site content should be written by marketing professionals in collaboration with the business owners/staff.
The formats you deliver content must also be suitable for your target audience and meet current standards. Although content is king, it doesn't mean all content should be text based. People are visual beings especially with the stimulus we receive from screen devices. Your content must cater to this. If certain information would work best as an infographic or video, then that is a better solution than boring your users with a 1000 word short essay. A lot of people don't like reading but they will binge watch youtube videos with very little complaints.
Content needs to be blocked and makes use of suitable formatting. When humans read we tend to scan headings first in an effort to quickly find what we are looking. If you combined well written and formatted text with the use of suitable graphic and video, you are giving your users to best possible content which will reflect in leads and less bounce rates.
5. Simple and Clear Navigation
There is a term that is thrown around the web a lot these days and it's UX. User experience (UX) design refers to the way your website visitors interact with your site and the 'experiences' they encounter while using it. In basic terms, did they have a positive experience while using the site and because of this experience how likely would they return? A major component that determines the level of user experience on a website is the navigation. It doesn't matter how brilliantly built your website is or if it has the best content ever written, if users are unable to navigate your site they are going to go somewhere else.
Website navigation needs to be clear, simple and intuitive. It should also be visible. There is a web design trend that hides the primary navigation and the only visual cue that a menu existed is through the use a 'Ham Burger' icon. Now, if you're reading this and wondering what a 'Ham Burger' icon is, then that is the exact reason why they shouldn't be used unless on mobile. By hiding a primary menu system completely out of view, you are potentially limiting the amount of visitors that will know how to use your website. If you want to create a positive user experience that will ensure your users will keep coming back to your site over and over again. Start by creating a simple and efficient way to navigate your awesome content.
Well, there you have it. 5 things all websites should be making good use of. Now, if you have gotten to the bottom of this blog post and have broken out in cold sweats because your website doesn't cater to each point, don't stress. First, have some comfort knowing that a lot of websites do not do these simple things and second, you can always contact SevenDev and we can help you bring you website up to speed.