9 Essential Elements Your Site Must Have!

The more user-friendly your site is, the more sales it will bring in.

Element 1: A Headline That Gets Attention 
People should know right away what the main benefit of your product or service is.  The headline needs to be well-written and right to the point.  It should encourage the visitor to read more, not compel them to leave.  For example - a chiropractor would not start out with "We have over 25 years experience..blah blah blah".  Instead, start with "Does Your Back Hurt?!?!  Most people will answer "yes" and will read on to see how they can stop it from hurting. 

Element 2: Easy to Use Navigation 
Have you ever been to a site and you could not figure out how to navigate it?  (I hope it wasn’t your site).  The number one reason people will leave a site is that the navigation was too confusing to use.  Don’t be cutesy with your buttons - if the link takes them to products, say "products".   Your navigation bar should be the same on every page of your website.  If your site is very large either use a "fly-out" menu or at least give them access to the main pages such as "home" and "contact".  Remember you are trying to sell a product or service, not showcase the latest trick your web designer just learned. 

Element 3: Effective Content (Text)
Choose your text carefully as this will be the first, and possibly only, contact you will have with a visitor.  Read the copy as someone who knows nothing about your industry.  Will it make sense to them?  Are you using terms and abbreviations that most people do not know?  Have someone not familiar with your company read the text.  Can they tell you what you are selling?  If not, you will want to revisit the text.  The text should also include your search term phrases.  This will help get your site listed on search engines. 

Element 4: Professional, Meaningful Pictures
"A picture says a thousand words".  Pictures help people to "get it".  They will help them to understand your product or relate to an emotion.  An HR consultant might have someone sitting at a desk looking very frustrated.  Who won’t be able to relate to that?  Make sure that the images look professional.  If you take them yourself make sure your thumb is not in the viewfinder or that deer antlers are not coming out of your staff member’s head.    

Element 5: An Opt-In Offer
Getting people to your site is half the battle.  Now, you need a way to contact them again.  (They will need to see your product/service 7 to 9 times before they buy).  You should be asking them to sign up for a newsletter or special offer.  You need to make it appealing enough so people will give you their email address.  Free drawings or a free e-book are great ways to get people to sign up.  Be creative.       

Side Note - Once you have their email address, send them something at least 4 times a year.  Once a month is better.  Consistency is the key. 

Element 6: Testimonials
Gotta have them!  Just like word-of-mouth advertising is the best, testimonials will build credibility faster than anything else.  You can either create a testimonial page or better yet, splash them around the site.  When possible have a testimonial that speaks about a specific product or service on that page.  Include names of satisfied clients as these add to the credibility of the testimonial.  

Element 7: Call to Action 
People need to be told what to do and how to do it when it comes to making a purchase.  Don’t just say "our products will help you clean faster".  Say, "ORDER TODAY and start saving time on your cleaning".  Deadlines and special offers are another great way to get them to buy right away. The Oreos are not placed at the end of the aisle by accident.  They are there, in your face, telling you to "BUY ME!".  It works, doesn’t it?  

Element 8: "About Us" Page
On every website we create there is always a "home", "contact’ and "about us" page.  Why?  Because you need to tell people about your company.  Why should they buy from you instead of the other 10 companies whose websites they just visited?  The purpose of this page is to build trust between you and your visitor. This is where you tell them how long you have been in business, the awards you have won, community involvement, your mission/vision statement, etc.  Pictures of staff members and owners help to make the site seem more personal.  This page also help to establish that you are a legitimate business and not some "Internet Company".

Element 9: Contact Page 
A visitor likes what they see.  They like the product, they trust you,  and they are ready to buy.  They look for your phone number and can’t find it!  Having a link to your "contact" page on all of your web pages ensures this does not happen.  The contact page should include mailing address (if you work from home and you don’t want to publish it, get a PO box), phone number, fax number, and email address.  Don’t just post your email address or worse yet, only offer a form to fill out.  Your company will come across as unprofessional and small.

June 1, 2005

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