Ten fundamentals for a great business website

Web overhaul project by Hopwood for surveyors MPG

A client asked me: “Do you have any research or feedback on what makes a website successful?” Well, having been involved in writing, designing and promoting websites since the early days of business Internet adoption, I certainly do. Here are ten fundamentals.

We have produced numerous websites, online shops and web apps working with our in house design team, specialists and web developer partners. For a proposal and quotation to overhaul your website that will address all of these points and more, get in touch.

  1. Research concluded what made a website an enjoyable/useful experience for the visitor was that it gave them the information they were looking for.
  2. Related to the point above, Google’s algorithms are now focused on displaying content that is authoritative and answers their users’ questions.
  3. This means that if you want to rank highly in search engines (mainly Google but also Yahoo, Bing etc.), you need to provide authoritative content. This is good news for us as a PR and communications agency, as creating engaging content is a huge part of what we do.
  4. The jiggery pokery of old school SEO specialists – loading pages with meta tags and keywords etc. to try to attract high search engine rankings – has been superseded by point 3. Google is also clamping down on web sites that try to manipulate the returns.
  5. Good images – and increasingly video – are important for a rich user experience. Video also enables you to attract visitors via YouTube, Vimeo etc.
  6. A blog and/or news section is important to keep content current and encourage repeat visitors.
  7. For the same reason, a live feed on the home page from a social channel – usually Twitter – or your blog news feed demonstrates you are active, current and in tune with digital communications. There is nothing sadder than a blog or social feed that has had nothing posted on it for months or even years. Again, as PR and communications providers, we help our clients ensure there is a continuity of content.
  8. The first websites were online brochures, and in a business to business context, that is still somewhat the case. So a contemporary design and good copy that tell your story and reflect your brand identity are crucial. This is also important for those occasions when customers and/or prospects visit your site just to find your telephone number or location. If the website looks poor or out of date on those occasions, it damages your image.
  9. The penultimate point is usability. A good CMS will allow authorised users to update content simply throughout the site.
  10. Finally, an open source platform will help to protect you against hackers and future proof your site, as you are not tied to any particular web designer or developer.

There is much more that goes into a successful website but for a parting shot, consider this. Most web projects begin with design and structure then throw together content to fill the holes. It would be better to consider content at the outset, and to put at least as much effort into it as you do into design.