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The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Great Website

Whether you are building your own website or working with a Web Designer, a lot goes into creating a site that is both beautiful and effective. Websites are much more than just online brochures. They are living, breathing things that must convey the story of you or your business enough to persuade the visitor to take the action(s) that you want them to take while on your site. This is called a Responsive site and it’s an absolute must. Sites that look dated or unprofessional will produce a negative impression of you and your business almost immediately. You only have less than 3 seconds to delight your visitor enough to stay and interact or buy or learn on your site.

These are the top 10 elements your site must have:

  1. Mobile Optimized – if it isn’t specifically designed to look good on phones or tablets, you are in the dark ages and likely repelling visitors, especially if you want them to fill out a lead form or buy something. Did you know that over 60% of people are now browsing websites on their phone? They are using their phones everywhere!
  2. Heavy on the Pro Photos – your site needs to have really WOW photos, especially the main heading photo. This can include your site name and you, but the background must be spectacular with color and some emotional appeal. These need to be large format high-pixel count and saved as .png for easy scaling and no pixilation. Why so many pictures? Sorry to tell you this, but people just don’t read much anymore. Say more with less text and more images.
  3. Opt-in Offer – Getting traffic is hard, so to maximize the effectiveness of your site, you want to make sure you get the email of just about everyone who visits. That’s called Opting In to a mailing list. Then, you can market to that person forever (or until they unsubscribe) via an email platform like Constant Contact, MailChimp or AWeber. You won’t get many emails (if any) by saying “Click here to get my newsletter” or “Sign up to be on my list”. No one wants to be on more lists! But offer some appealing and helpful content that will persuade your visitor to leave their name in exchange for that. It can be a “Top 10 list thing” or a Free Gift, or a Discount coupon, or an eBook, etc.  
  4. Pop-ups, Drop-ins, Page Takeovers and Offer Bars – all these are ways to put your Opt-In Offer more prominent on your site. No better way to build your list. You might think people don’t like that, but they convert 72% better than a static box on your site. I suggest using a HelloBar.com pre-designed template to add a cool opt-in that matches your goals and colors and preference.
  5. SEO Basics (Search Engine Optimization) – a new site is not recognizable to Google until you take certain steps to let search engines know what your site is about and that it exists. Here’s a few things that are basic and must be included:  
    • Meta title and descriptions – these should be strong keywords that describe your content
    • Make sure register with Google Business and use Webmaster Tools – there you will get a Site Map, and other other help with site recognition
    • Use security domain features like https:  (the s is for security) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security protocol. Google will rank you better for having these.
    • Alt Image tags – make sure that all those gorgeous images you are using have “alt image” tags. These are hidden text labels that describe the photo. Google bots can read that and then understand more what your site is about.
    • Custom domain – that is www.yoursitename.com (or org, biz, and so on) rather than www.yoursitename.builderplatfrom.com (like Strikingly, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace – those site are usually free. Custom domains must be purchased annually, use GoDaddy.com for best service.
  6. CTA Buttons – Call To Action – this is the most important thing that your website must do – Get people to take the action you want them to take! Fill in an Opt-In, Join a Club, Register for a course or event, Ask for a Consultation, Use Contact Us box or Buy SOMETHING! Having buttons that stand out that direct the attention of the visitor is very important. You can use more casual terms like “I Want In” or “Sign me Up” or “I’m Ready to Shop”. Be clever and creative here
  7. Contact Us Box – Some people think that if they already have an Opt-in Box, why use a Contact too. Because people sometimes *want* to contact you about something. Please let them. Have that go to an email or phone that someone is monitoring frequently. Nothing worse than trying to get your question answered and nobody ever contacts you back. Don’t leave off your phone!
  8. Analytics – I can’t tell you how many small businesses that I talk to have no idea what their site traffic is, where the traffic is coming from, where the visitors live, how long they stayed on the site or what action they took. This is crucial information! One client did not know that because of most of the stuff in #10, that 82% of her hard-earned traffic was leaving in UNDER 3 Seconds! Clearly they did not find what they were looking for or buy anything. Conversion from visitor to prospect to buyer is the name of the game. How many people visited? How many took action (lead)? How many purchased? If you don’t know this, you are operating in the dark! You can get Google Analytics for free and your website builder (like Strikingly, Wix, Wordpress) all have simple Stats to access.
  9. Blog – There are 2 reasons why most sites need a blog added to their site. The more fresh content you post, the more relevant Google thinks your site is to the keyword being searched. The more good content your provide to your visitors (who subscribe) the more they will come to know your brand and relate to it, which means they will eventually buy something from you, or take the action you want.
  10. Use a website builder like Strikingly.com to build it yourself. This easy to use and edit platform was used to create this blog, TheWebsiteAtelier.com site and the entire portfolio of websites on that site. I can also create one for you!

When you have your website designed at TheWebsite Atelier – we make sure that every single point on this document is covered in your website design! We are knowledgeable and experienced providing everything you will need to make your site effective and successful. Contact me today if you'd like to talk to me about your website vision. Let's get started!

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