Your online presence is more important than ever. However, the impact is lost completely if your site doesn’t include the necessary components to captivate and retain your audience. To help you unlock the often confusing world of website development, we consulted experts for the key elements all websites should have.
If you don’t yet have a website (or are looking for a change), Squarespace is our #1 resource for building a platform — no matter if you’re starting a blog, professional site, online shop, or something in between. Their easy to use interface makes it possible to get the “I paid thousands of dollars for a designer to do this” look on a serious budget. They even have a plethora of SEO tools built in that will help you utilize natural traffic to your site. Meaning more eyeballs on all the content you spend hours creating.
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If you already have a site — or are at the early stages of building yours — here are 7 essential components you must include.
1. First and foremost, your site should have a cohesive aesthetic.
If you’re designing your site on your own, it can be easy to get inundated with fonts and color schemes. Here are a few familiar design components to keep in mind:
– simple and easy to read is always better
– use the rule of 3: no more than 3 colors, 3 fonts, or 3 sizes of type
– utilize a consistent palette of colors that don’t clash
– make sure there is a strong contrast between the text and the background
– keep it consistent (different pages shouldn’t feel like a different site)
– keep in mind that most visitors scan websites from left to right (so consider placing important information on the left side)
– make your logo link back to the homepage
– have links change color when you hover over them
Your business is personal so only you can know the most effective way of expressing your aesthetic — and it will likely take a little trial and error to figure out what that means for you. Honestly, that’s why the pre-made templates are one of our favorite features from Squarespace. Not only do they have tons of free options to choose from, but they also convey a sense of professionalism. They take a lot of the guesswork out of design because they are experts and know what users are looking for. And the ability to customize and tweak means you are never “stuck” with a template — you can always make it your own.
2. Make your site’s purpose clear.
Whether you’re selling vintage goods or an up-and-coming fashion blogger, make it clear what your site’s purpose is. The easiest way to do this is by including an about page that’s easy to get to, but also captivating. No one wants to read seven paragraphs about how the company was founded. Focus on the most exciting information, what people commonly ask you about, and points that will get individuals excited about what you’re doing. Because sometimes an about page isn’t enough, consider a byline beneath your website header or on the side navigation pane. That way no matter where visitors are coming from or how long they are staying, there isn’t a hunt to figure out what it is you’re doing in your corner of the Internet. A good rule of thumb is that a reader should be able to identify the purpose of your site within four seconds of looking at your page.
3. Let your audience know why you’re different.
Does your fashion blog only source items that are under $50? Is your service the only mobile option in your city? Essentially: what is the benefit from buying from or following you? Whatever your key difference is, find a way to include it and get people excited about it. This key will keep them engaged and on your site longer.
4. Connecting (and contacting) should be easy.
Building out your social following is essential to growth and consistently communicating with your audience. They may not be able to visit your site five times a day, but we know they’re opening the Facebook or Instagram app at least that many times. Don’t make it difficult to find your social channels. Keep them front and center at the top of your site (or static on the sidebar) so that if they want to connect, it’s easy. Test these links often to make sure they’re working, especially if you adjust your handle.
If your business relies on customers contacting you, this should be another front and center feature. Whether you prefer to do this by phone or email, make it easy to locate this information at first glance on your site (and all pages). Businesses should, at the very least, put the phone number at the bottom of each page. In addition, add a contact page with all necessary numbers, handles, info, and directions. This contact page should have a prominent place in the navigation pane to your site. Make this page as easy to use as possible with a form they can use rather than just an email address. Don’t worry, Squarespace has an easy-to-use plugin for this and all you have to do is pick the fields and name them.
5. Intuitive navigation is the key to a low bounce rate.
A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. A low bounce rate means people are engaged and staying on your website (which is great for you!). The best way to keep customers on your site longer (and decreasing your bounce rate) is to make it easy to navigate. Supplying individuals with a clear path means they can access any information they are looking for (or might not know they need). Squarespace offers a variety of templates for your aesthetic with easily accessible navigation panes. Yes, they do all the hard coding for you and you just get to decide where customers should go. Navigation panes on the top or side are better for bounce rates because an individual doesn’t have to scroll to the bottom of the page to find out where to go next. To read more about increasing your website’s traffic organically, click here.
PRO TIP: Including a search bar that can be easily accessed at all times can also help when navigation becomes tricky. This way no matter what, individuals can always find what they need.
6. Retain individuals with a FAQs page.
Think about it: when customers call your business (or email you for more information) are there recurring questions asked? One can only assume that this is only a small percentage of the overall amount of people who have the same question. Make it easy and create a page to answer all of these frequently asked questions. You can also include this information on your contact page and potentially save your already inundated inbox. Make sure to analyze the questions you’re getting and see if any of them can be answered elsewhere on your site. For example, if customers are always asking where you’re located, it may be a good idea to include your address in a more prominent field or a google map with directions as well as on your FAQs page.
7. Make sure your site has a cohesive (and easy to navigate) mobile version.
The percentage of users who access websites only on mobile devices grows daily. Whether it’s a tablet or smartphone, your site needs to perform on a wide variety of devices and browsers. If you build your site on Squarespace, their platform handles all of the heavy coding (#winning). But it’s always a good idea to check your website on multiple devices and browsers as frequently as you can. It’s best to catch problems and make sure everything works correctly before receiving complaints. Don’t just skim: test links, photos, and pages for improvements or errors. If you can’t solve a problem yourself, Squarespace offers a 24/7 customer care team to offer help with any questions or concerns.
Don’t forget to use the coupon code “EVERYGIRL17” for 10% off your first Squarespace purchase!
This post was in partnership with Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.