So, in my many years of helping brands run their websites, looking at example sites, blah blah blah, I have come across some great websites, and some not so great ones. However, what I have learned is that the sites that have done the best all have the same things. So, I put together a little list for exactly what your website needs.

Basically, if your website doesn’t have these things you have a couple options. Either, start adding these things, or accept the fact that you like to do a half-ass job.

It’s up to you.

1. Fully-Responsive & Mobile-Friendly

This one is simple. Everyone and their mother has a smartphone or a tablet. In some cases, I’ve seen brands where their website views are higher on mobile than on a desktop.

[bctt tweet=”If your website isn’t fully-responsive, you may as well delete the damn thing.” username=”andrewmaff”]

Now Google will even punish your website with their new algorithm they released back in August of 2015. (Yeah, that means if your website isn’t responsive, you’ve been screwed for a few years now.)

For example, this is how this site currently looks on all devices.

andrew maff fully responsive website

If your website isn’t responsive you have a few options. Build a new website, change your WordPress theme, or if you have an eCommerce company, you could look into Shopgate. I’ve used them before and they definitely help solve the mobile-friendly problem, they could even build you an app if you want that.

2. Easy-to-Use Navigation

This one always shocks me. Did you know that because of technology, humans now have the attention span of a goldfish? I read that somewhere, I don’t remember where though so I can’t link to it…but it’s true, trust me.

Wait, found the link.

If I open up your website and I immediately have no idea how to find what I’m looking for, I’m leaving.

You need to make sure your menu stands out and is easy to use. Simplicity is key. If you have something you’re trying to sell I would also suggest having a very clear call-to-action above the fold (for all of you novices, that means high enough on the page that the reader doesn’t have to scroll to find it.)

3. Analytics

Obviously, Google Analytics is the go-to for this. This may be the most important tool any website could have, and best of all it’s FREE! Do you know what that means? If you don’t have Google Analytics, you’re just lazy.

You need to be able to see what people are coming to your site for, where they are coming from, how long they are staying, who they are, what they are clicking on, etc. There is so much information that can help you optimize your site and all you have to do is set your website up with Google Analytics and you’ll be good.

If you don’t have it set-up yet, bookmark this page so you can come back, and go do it…NOW!

 

4. Page Speed & Performance

Do you remember that time I mentioned that humans have the attention span of a goldfish? Come on, I know you remember.

No? Well, it was a couple of sections ago.

Here is how this works, if your website is slow people will get annoyed and take their business elsewhere. Every. Single. Time.

I don’t have time to wait for your flash graphics to load or wait for your moving background to finish showing up. Give me what I want now or I’m gone.

5. Images

By now, you may already be tired of reading this post. I don’t blame you. So I added this ridiculous picture:

dog lounging with drink in robe

Do you know why I added that picture? It keeps your attention much longer than just plain text. When people see a page on your website with just words, it looks like work and the average person is incredibly lazy.

Some of the best websites I have ever seen are very visual and can actually show their viewers exactly what they do with as little reading as possible.

Be careful stealing images, just because it’s posted on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free. Give Shutterstock a try or another stock photo website so you don’t end up having to pay thousands of dollars in fines because you got caught using some kids picture of a rainbow.

6. About Us Page

Don’t be dumb. Clearly, your viewers need to know who you are and why you exist. Not having an “About Us” page is like going up to a someone in a bar and saying “Tell me about yourself!” and they say “No!”. Seems rude, right?

7. Contact Us Page

If I met a girl who I learned about and became acquainted with, thought she was cute, all that jazz., then realized I would love to see her again! So I ask this pretty little lady, “Hey, can I have your number?”, then she responds “Nope.”, with no excuse as to why and then walks away.

Messed up right?! Screw her!

That’s what not having a “Contact Us” page is like. IF you don’t have one, you’re basically telling your reader, “Screw you!”.

8. Great Content

Of course, I’ll touch base on content marketing over time, but as well all know, content marketing is the new hot thing. Give your viewers something worth reading, give them a reason to stay on your site and to want to visit more often.

Here is another metaphor for you:

If I wanted to buy a new car and I walked into a dealership and the salesman comes right up to me and says “BUY THIS CAR!”, I would either tell him to f**k off, or I would walk out. It depends on how I was feeling that day.

However, if he came up to me, started some small talk, asked me about the weather, complimented my shirt (I wear awesome shirts), chatted it up with me, etc., I would stick around.

The morale of this story, don’t try so hard. People come to your website for a reason, make sure it’s clear what you’re selling so they know how to find it when they’re ready, but don’t bombard them with shitty sales attempts.

9. Social Media Buttons

This is actually very simple.

Somewhere on your website, maybe in the header, or in the footer, put all of your social media information. Like these that I have at the bottom of this website:

andrew maff social buttons

Here is why. Because, if your brand is not on social media, you’re an idiot. There I said it.

Social media is a long game. PPC ads will get you a sale right now, but social media will get you sales for years to come. Give your viewers other ways for you to stick your brand in their face every day. It’s basically free advertising, give them the opportunity to follow you everywhere possible.

10. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO scares the crap out of a lot of people. They see the word, or acronym, whatever, and just go “Uggghhhhh, I don’t know how to do that!”

Here are the basics to get you started; optimize your page titles, optimize your meta descriptions, keep your URLs short, have a Privacy Policy page & a Terms of Service page, make sure all of your images have alt tags, then submit your sitemap to Google & Bing Webmasters.

Boom. There are your basics. Clearly, there is A LOT more to SEO but at least this will get you started.

 

Look, I’m very aware this is high-level stuff. These are just the basics of what I have seen a lot of great websites have. There are some more things but if you’re just looking to get started, this is where you start.

If you’ve never had to do stuff like this before, I suggest trying a WordPress website (that’s what this site is). You can get very customized with it but you can also download a pre-made theme and create your own easily.

 

If you think there is something that is detrimental to a website, comment below and I’ll consider adding it, or I’ll tell you you’re wrong. 😉