Wait a minute, is that correct? As a web and internet marketing consultant, why on earth would I be saying such a thing? Isn’t the web and your web design the crux of your customers’ experience before they ever pick up the phone and call you? Isn’t that what it’s all about? As I said in The Art of Search Engine Optimization. Is SEO Still What You Think It Is?, there’s more here than meets the eye.

No one cares what color your website is, what you sell, or what your logo looks like. I also tell people all the time in my classes and speaking engagements that no one cares what your company name is or your tag line (or mission statement, etc.).

They DO care about finding a solution to their problem. Almost universally, when people do a search on the internet, they are looking for an answer. When they land on your website, they want to know:

  • Do you provide the answer(s) to their question?
  • Do you provide the means to enable them to solve their own problem?
  • Can you solve their problem for them (for free or a fee)?

This is all true. They just don’t care so much what it looks like, just that they can find the answers to their problems.

Fundamental Requirements for All Websites

As online marketers, business owners, and purveyors of all things available on the planet, we do need to provide some specific design elements in our online marketing or our customers will go elsewhere. Aside from having a good, professional design, and providing information to them, have you made any of the fundamental mistakes that prevent your customers from connecting with you?

At a basic level, I always recommend that all websites start with a horizontal navigation bar from which all pages can be accessed. The horizontal menu takes up the least amount of space on the screen, and it’s expected. Make sure that there are no more 7-8 menu items too. If you go much past that, people start wondering which is the correct choice, since there is probably overlap.

So often I’ll see a split navigation where some items are across the main nav, then other items appear or disappear, or there’s a secondary navigation bar. It confuses things, and makes it hard to find the information your customers are seeking.

Simple Call To Action

How do you want people to engage with you? Sign up for a newsletter? Pick up the phone and call you? Buy something?

You need to provide your customers with an easy way to engage with you. If you make it hard for them to figure it out, they’ll just give up and go elsewhere. It drives me crazy when I need the phone number, and it’s buried in little tiny font at the bottom of the page, or it’s nowhere except the Contact Us page. Why not put it on every page? Remember that 54% of people visiting your website will never scroll, so they won’t see your information at the bottom.

Another fundamental mistake is to have too many calls-to-actions. If you give people to many choices, that’s not better. Instead they just choose none. Give people one primary choice, and that’s it.

Trust Building Factors

I tell my students and folks at lectures all the time, “If people don’t trust you, they won’t give you their money.” It’s that simple. You need all the trust-building factors you can get to demonstrate to your customers that you’re a legitimate business to work with:

  • Client testimonials are great – video client testimonials are better (and easy to create!)
  • Better Business Bureau, McAfee Secure (formerly HackerSafe), Verisign logos (etc.) all show that you’re someone who can be trusted
  • Logos from trade organizations, chambers of commerce, and others like Angie’s List, Diamond Certified, etc. all show that you’re well connected in the community
  • Star ratings from sites like Yelp¬†and other review sites all help give other testimonials about your business
  • Site design that doesn’t suffer from common technical issues associated with cheap web developers

Every Page Is A Landing Page

One more fundamental is that every single page of your website and blog is a landing page. Your call-to-action must be on EVERY page of your website, because you never know how people will wander in. They may come to your Home page, or they may come in from a social media link pointing to your blog post. So you must take every opportunity to build in the proper conversion tools that get your customers excited and engaged.

Give Me Your Opinion

Please comment below: Tell me below what you think other fundamental pieces all websites must have, no matter what.