- Mobile and/or Responsive Functionality
Responsive design has been around for a while now, but has quickly become the norm in the last couple of years. It is now expected that your site be both adaptive and attractive no matter the viewing device. This means you either build a version of your site for every viewing size you expect, or you build a site that will adapt to fit any viewing screen. With mobile usage on the rise, this becomes more and more important everyday.
- Great Creative Design & Graphics
This one goes with out saying doesn’t it? If your site isn’t aesthetically pleasing, no one will want to visit it, no matter how awesome you are. Take the time to hire a real designer, rather than hire your Uncle Bob who “really knows his stuff.”
- Cross-Browser & Accessibility
Different browsers display websites differently. There is no escaping this fact. However, if your site looks great in one browser, and looks like a train wreck in another, you’ve got a big problem. In some cases this can mean losing a whole host of traffic and/or potential leads and sales. It’s also important to note the little details such as providing alternative text and titles for your images for screen readers and users with disabilities.
- The Right CMS
This can’t be said enough. It’s incredibly important that the right amount of research goes into picking the platform that’s right for you and your site – from the beginning. Believe it or not, WordPress is not the answer for everything. WordPress can be bent, twisted and manipulated to do a lot of great things. Yet, it can quickly turn into a messy ball of third party developed plugins that don’t work in harmony and add a lot of bloat to your site. Depending on your needs, a custom solution might suit you better in the long run.
Even the best looking site in the world wouldn’t be much without considering search engine optimization—we all want to be on Google’s first page of results! While that result isn’t always fully in your control, you have to do everything in your power to help make it happen. Following SEO best practices, it’s crucial to include meta descriptions and keywords that are the most relevant and popular with those doing the searching. Page titles should lead with targeted keywords, XML Sitemaps should be created and submitted, URLs should be short, sweet and clean, and so on.
- Great, Shareable Content
At the heart of every site lies the content. It’s not only important for your content to be great, but also just as important to be constantly adding to it. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with a blog. Blog posts that are rich with stunning images, infographics and video get attention. It brings people to your site and allows them to share your content with their friends. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but I promise it will pay off in the end. A blog keeps content on your site fresh and relevant. Google loves freshness and relevancy. Enough said.
- Lead Generation
I’d say this is one of the most giant, gaping holes I see in websites as of late. They seem to have it all, with their great designs, fresh content, and innovative features. But a site without a way to capture leads is like a store without a cashier or salesman. Third party companies such as Hubspot provide excellent solutions for lead generation and inbound marketing that can fill that void quickly.
- Site Architecture
A solid sitemap should be designed and implemented before even the most rough of sketches is started. Nothing is more frustrating to a user than not being able to navigate through a site. If the user is frustrated, you’ll be frustrated. Be sure your site follows a hierarchy that makes sense to everyone, not just you.
- Tracking & Reporting
Without a way to track your traffic and report sales, you’ll never know how great your website really is. Google Analytics provides excellent insight to help identify where your strengths and weaknesses are. It can help you identify things such as cross-browser issues and fallout. Hubspot also provides excellent reporting on the performance of your inbound marketing strategy. These tools are truly invaluable and a must for any site.
- Expert Advice
Lastly, a willingness to take advice and suggestions from industry experts is a necessity for a great website. Many people think they know best when it comes to their logo, their site design, their brand, and their site structure, yet if you’re not well versed in web design and development, this attitude can be a huge detriment to your site. Be open to outside opinions and suggestions from those who are experts.
Now take this list and go build your amazing website!