Wow. I love it when someone designs a checklist on an infographic that’s both simple and informative. UK Web Host Review designed this infographic to develop a list of features they believe should be included with every business’ online presence.
For your business to succeed online you need to make sure that your website is feature packed! There are many small details that can make all the difference – both in terms of giving customers trust and also giving them extra functions that aid conversions and improve the overall user experience of your site. It makes your business stand apart from the other’s giving you a competitive edge.
This list is for any size business and e-commerce sites should take a look as well. I’ve added quite a few more items in addition to their checklist that you should also include!
Overall, it’s absolutely imperative that your website meets the purpose you’re investing in – to drive business. That means every visitor should land with intent, find the information they need, be lead to a conversion, and provide you with the necessary notifications and reporting you need to continue to optimize the site.
Too many companies are overly focused on design. A beautiful design provides the immediate impact you want visitors to have, but unless the site is actually working and driving sales for your company, it’s not worth the investment. Conversely, agencies often don’t offer all of the features your site needs to be successful. Conversion, search, and social optimization should not be add-ons, they should be baselines for any website project.
In Your Page Header:
- Domain name – that’s easy to read and remember. A .com domain extension is still premium since that’s how browsers will resolve if you type in that domain without the extension. New domain extensions are getting more acceptable (eg. .zone here!) so don’t be too worried… sometimes a shorter domain with another extension may be a more memorable solution than a long .com domain that doesn’t make sense or requires dashes and other words. You’d be surprised at how great a deal you can get on domain auctions, too. Don’t stop your search with a new registration.
- Logo – a professional representation of your business that’s unique. Logo design is an artform… requiring contrast, recognition at any size, creativity, colors that target your audience, and perhaps sending a visual message that impacts your audience. Be sure to link your logo to back to your home page as most visitors are used to that.
- TagLine – a concise description of what your business does. This shouldn’t be a feature unless you’re a one-trick product or service. Focus on the benefits of your products or services, not the feature. Cuts grease is perfect for Dawn. But a list of implementations and integrations instead of Realize your Return on Technology Investment is much better for Highbridge.
- Phone Number – a clickable and trackable phone number (and make sure you answer). Phone number tracking will help you better attribute campaigns and how prospects are reaching you. Since users are often mobile, ensuring every phone number is a clickable link is essential… no one wants to try and copy and paste a phone number via a mobile screen.
- Call-to-Action – tell visitors what you would like them to do next and they’ll do it. Every page of your site should have a CTA. I’d highly recommend having a Call to Action button on the top right of your navigation as well. Make it easy, tell visitors what to do next, and help drive the customer journey.
- Top Navigation – discreet options to find the top pages on your site. Mega menus may look fantastic, but unless they’re designed well, too many options can be overwhelming to your audience. I’ve seen engagement and page visits skyrocket on sites where we reduced navigation elements to a fraction of what they were.
- Bread Crumb Navigation – help your visitors navigate hierarchically. Providing someone a means of moving up topically is superb. Bread crumbs are also great search optimization tools, providing search engines with a better understanding of your site hierarchy. Especially if you’re an ecommerce site with a ton of categories and product SKUs.
Above the Fold:
- Background Video, Image or Slider – visually display unique selling points and differentiators. You may want to even incorporate lightboxes. When you have a diagram or image that has detail you’d like visitors to scrutinize, making an image clickable where the image, gallery, or slider expands to the take-up maximum real estate is a great user experience.
- Reviews and Testimonials – Social proof is essential. Most prospective visitors want to understand two very important things… Can you do what you say you do? What evidence is there that you’re capable? Textual testimonials are great, video is even better. If you’re going with text, be sure to include a photo of the person along with their name, title, and location (if it’s applicable).
- Important Business Information – Your physical location and mailing address are perfect to include in your site footer. If your physical location is critical to your business, you may wish to include it in your title tags, or provide a map throughout the site for people to easily locate you. Also important are hours of information and the best way to contact you.
Below the Fold:
Of course, with modern screens… the fold is different for every device. However, for the most part, it’s the area of the screen that’s not immediately visible when someone opens your page in a browser. Don’t be afraid of long pages… in fact, we’ve tested and seen long, well-organized pages perform much better than making visitors click to get to the information they need.
- Quality Content – your unique selling proposition described for visitors and search.
- Main Features – of your products and services.
- Internal Links – to your website’s inner pages.
- Bookmarks – Links within a page’s content to help users jump up or down a page to find the information they’re seeking.
- Accessibility – Companies are starting to be held accountable for not having access for people with disabilities. In states like California, there are minimum $4,000 fines for not having an accessible site. Our recommendation for this is to sign up for AccessiBe, which instantly makes your site accessible, has an audit trail, assists you with legal issues, and may even be tax deductible if your company qualifies.
- Navigation – secondary navigation to common pages. A table of index is sometimes great with bookmarks to help a visitor jump from one section to another.
- Social Media – assist people in getting to know you via social channels.
- Online Chat Feature – instant communication while the visitor is researching. Chatbots are becoming amazing tools to qualify and route requests through chat accurately and conveniently. There are also full-time third-party receptionists you can utilize if you don’t have the manpower to monitor your chat during and outside of business hours.
- Business Hours – along with your location, this will make sure visitors know when they can visit. Business hours can also be included in your site’s metadata for search engines, directories, and other services that crawl your site.
- Contact Information – physical and mailing address(es), phone number, and/or email address. Be careful publishing an email address, though. Crawlers continuously pick them up and you may start to get a huge influx of spam.
- About Us Content – what’s your story?
- Inner Page Content -key product and service offerings in detail.
- Contact form – let visitors know when to expect a response.
- Captcha / Anti-Spam Feature – you’ll be sorry if you don’t! Bots are constantly crawling sites and submitting forms when they’re not in use.
- FAQ Page – frequently asked questions about your products and services.
- Blog Page – company news, industry news, advice, and client stories you can share with your audience.
- Comment feature – increase user engagement.
- Search bar – make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re seeking.
- Sidebar – show your latest or most popular blog posts, call-to-action, or related posts.
- Social Media Share – allows users to easily share your articles.
Other Content and Design Points to Consider:
- Easily readable, clean font – remember that serif fonts actually let readers read content easier. It’s not uncommon to use Sans-serif fonts in headings and serif-fonts for body content.
- Links that are easy to understand – colors, underlines, or buttons will lead users to click through and not get frustrated.
- Mobile responsive – designing a modern site that looks great on a mobile device is a must!
- Hamburger menu on mobile site
- Use contrasting colors
- Use a spell checker – we love Grammarly!
Search Engine Optimization:
- Title and meta description updates – optimize your title and meta description so search engine users are more likely to click through.
- Automatic sitemap creation – and submission to common webmaster tools.
- Easy to update URL structure – short, concise URLs that aren’t using querystrings and numbers are easier to share and more attractive to click on.
Server and Hosting:
- Fast and reliable hosting – we love Flywheel!
- Automatic website backup feature – your site needs to be backed up nightly and easy to restore. Most good hosting platforms offer this.
- SSL / HTTPS – ensure your site has a security certificate, especially if you’re collecting information from visitors. This is a must nowadays as modern browsers will typically avoid anything but secure content.
Technical Requirements Backend:
- Use a CMS – it’s impossible to compete with today’s content management systems to incorporate all the tools, integrations, and efficiencies by trying to write your own web software. Look for a CMS with great SEO capabilities and implement it immediately.
- Optimized code for fast page loading – modern CMS systems incorporate a database to store the content and a web page to query and display it. Overly complex code can put a hefty load on your web server (especially when simultaneous visitors are hitting your site), so well-written code is a must!
- Cross-browser compatibility
- Google Search Console integration
- Google Analytics Integration – even better might be Google Tag Manager integration with Google Analytics configured.
- Microformats – Schema.org tagging for Google to read (especially if you’re a local business), Twittercard data for twitter, and OpenGraph tagging for Facebook can all enhance your visibility when your site is shared or found on search and social media.
- Media compression – use an image compression service to speed up your image loading without spoiling the quality of the images.
- Lazy Loading – Images, audio, and video don’t need to immediately load on a web page until they’re viewed, watched, or listened to. Use lazy loading technology (built into WordPress) to display your page first… then display the media when needed.
- Site Caching – when your site is delivered, it may be fast. But what about when you have tens of thousands of visitors in a day… will it crash or keep up?
Things to Avoid:
- Use a video hosting service, don’t load videos on your server
- Avoid background music
- Don’t use Flash
- Avoid Click to Enter sites (unless there are age restrictions)
- Do not steal content, images, or other assets
- Do not share confidential information
Additional Items Missed
- Newsletter Signup – Many visitors to your site won’t be ready to purchase but they will subscribe to buy later or keep in touch. Email capture is a critical element for every business!
- CDN – Content Delivery Networks will speed up your site considerably.
- Robots.txt – Let the search engines know what they can and can’t index, and where to find your sitemap. Read: What is Search Engine Optimization?
- Landing Pages – Landing pages are a must have. Destination pages for each motivated visitor who has clicked a call-to-action is critical to your conversion success. And landing pages that integrate to customer relationship management and marketing automation platforms are even better. Read: 9 Landing Page Mistakes to Avoid
- Podcasts – Podcasting continues to drive results with businesses. Businesses can target leads for interviews, capture testimonials from clients, educate their customers, and build authority in their industry. Read: Why Companies Are Podcasting
- Videos – Even small businesses can afford basic videos… all you need is your smartphone and you’re good to go! From explainer videos to customer testimonials, you’d be surprised at how many visitors won’t read, but will watch videos throughout your site. Don’t be afraid to embed them throughout your content. Read: Why Product Video is a Priority and 5 Types of Videos You Should Produce
- Map – Are you registered with Google My Business? You should be for map searches for your business. And I’d encourage you to include a map on your site as well.
- Logo Bar – If you’re a B2B company, having a logo bar is critical so prospects can see who else you’re working with. We built an image rotator widget for this very reason.
- Premium Resources – If you’re not producing premium content like infographics, white papers, and case studies, you’re missing out on a lot of ways to attract visitors to connect with you through your landing pages! Read: The Top Marketing Tactics for Lead Generation
- Mobile Standards – Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages are new, integrated content standards that you should be publishing. Read: We’re now on Apple News