This is great.

 

You are ready to create your own website, and have picked out a website platform to build the website with. So what’s next? Website design and development can be an overwhelming process. A lot has to be taken into consideration when you are starting a new website. Here’s all you need to know for building your website from scratch.

 

55 Must-Have Website Features 

There are, of course, some features that are optional. However, most of the items in the following list are essential in terms of navigation, usability and search engine optimization. These are the 55 must-haves for your website to ensure that your visitors will have a positive experience on the site, improve your company’s digital footprint and increase engagement with your brand.

 

Header 

  1. Choose a domain name. This is one of the toughest aspects of building your own website. I highly recommend researching on available domain names before thinking of your brand name or website name, since many good ones are already taken. Try searching on GoDaddy.
  2. Create a logo. The logo has to be relevant, recognisable and suitable for your website or brand. More importantly, it has to be applicable to different dimensions. 
  3. Think of a tag line. This is a catchphrase that captures the gist of your brand, and elaborates on your product or service. It should be short and catchy. 
  4. Add your phone number. Make sure it is a clickable number so that mobile users can call you with just one click. 
  5. Add a call-to-action button. Tell your visitors what you want them to do, be it subscribing to newsletters, leaving personal details on contact form, or making online purchase while the offer lasts. 
  6. Design a user-friendly top navigation menu. The navigation buttons should be self-explanatory. Visitors should not have to guess what the pages are about. 
  7. Use bread crumb navigation. As in the German fairytale Hanzel and Gretel, bread crumb secondary navigation scheme can greatly improve the usability and help users find their way around your website. 

Above The Fold 

  1. Display messages with image or slider. Images can be more powerful and leave a stronger impression. Use a slider if you are looking to show multiple messages. 
  2. Invite clients to write reviews and testimonials. This is a great way to build brand trust. 
  3. Include important business information. Don’t leave out business details such as location on your website – make it easy for users to find you! 

Below The Fold 

  1. Write quality content. Users first, and search engine comes second. Your website copy should be relevant and useful to your target audience. 
  2. Highlight your main features. Select and elaborate on 3-4 differentiating features that makes your business stand out from the crowd. 
  3. Utilize internal links. Help users navigate better by including hyperlinks to your website’s inner pages. This can also establish a clear site architecture and spreading link juice across your domain. 

Footer 

  1. Create footer navigation. If your website has a lot of pages, it will help both users and search engine to understand the site architecture by having navigation options in the bottom of each page. 
  2. Connect with your social media pages. Offer users alternate ways to contact you and encourage them to follow you on different social networking sites. 
  3. Include online chat feature. Provide instant communication option to users. 
  4. State clearly what your business hours are. Let users know when they can expect to hear from you. 
  5. Provide the option to sign up for newsletter. Users simply have to submit their email addresses in order to receive the latest news and update from your business. 
  6. List your contact information in the footer space. These include phone number, email address and office address. 

Inner Pages 

  1. Have an About Us page. Basically, this is where every new user will go to if it is their first time visiting your website. 
  2. Compose inner page content. Be sure to include information that are interesting and relevant to users. 
  3. Create a contact form. Allow users to leave their contact details and measure conversions easily with a simple contact form. 
  4. Add captcha to the contact form. Differentiate spammy bots from actual human users. 
  5. Have a privacy policy page. Let users know how you will collect and use their personal information. 
  6. Add a FAQ page. Save time and resources by having all frequently asked questions and answers readily available. 
  7. Set up a blog page. Blogging is a powerful way to increase web presence for your website. 

Blog 

  1. Include a comment section. Allow users to leave comment on each blog post to increase user interaction and engagement. Here are a few tips on combating comment spam. 
  2. Enable the search function. Help users save time in digging up old posts. 
  3. Create a side bar. Display the latest and most popular posts to drive traffic to other posts. 
  4. Enable social media sharing function. This is a good way to promote your posts on other platforms. 

Other Content & Design Considerations 

  1. Use easily readable and clean fonts. 
  2. Embed links that are easy to understand. Avoid using URLs that may look spammy or suspicious. 
  3. Make sure your website is mobile responsive. As more users are browsing websites with mobile devices, there is an increasing demand for a fluid and and responsive design format. 
  4. Create hamburger menus on mobile site.
  5. Use contrasting colours. Other than aesthetics, clarity and readability should be top priorities when it comes to web design. 
  6. Check spellings and grammar. A website with wrong spellings and grammatical errors appear unprofessional. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

  1. Choose a SEO-friendly CMS. When selecting a website platform, be sure that it enables easy editing of page titles and meta descriptions.
  2. Create sitemap. This helps search engines to crawl and index your website without missing any pages. 
  3. Update URL structure easily. 

Server & Hosting 

  1. Select a fast and reliable hosting provider. One of the most important considerations when creating your own website! 
  2. Provide website backup function. 
  3. Secured. Make sure the hosting company you choose is safe to use.

Technical Requirements 

  1. Use optimized code for loading speed. You can test your website speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights
  2. Use a content management system. This allows you to easily manage and maintain your website.
  3. Check cross browser compatibility. The website should be able to support Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari, at the very least.
  4. Integrate with Google Search Console (also known as Google Webmaster Tools). 
  5. Install Google Analytics. Try doing this once the website is live, so not to lose any data. 
  6. Apply schema.org. Improve the way your website is shown on search engine results page by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.
  7. Use browser cache to increase website load speed. Reusing a previously fetched response can save time in fetching resources over the network. 

Things To Avoid 

  1. Do not upload videos on website server. Make better use of video upload websites such as YouTube and Vimeo. 
  2. Avoid background music. 
  3. Do not use Flash elements. They cannot be understood by search engines and lower site speed. 
  4. Avoid ‘Click to Enter’ your website. Users should not need any extra clicks to access your website. 
  5. Do not steal content. Duplicate content will be penalised by major search engines like Google. 
  6. Do not share confidential information. Protect your business and your brand. 

Too lazy to read? Here’s the infographic:

 

Small Business Website

 

Let me know if I have missed anything by leaving a comment below!

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