If you are considering getting a website built this is probably one of the first questions you will ask yourself. Of course, the answer to this question greatly depends on your needs as a company or individual. The needs of an international company are obviously going to be very different to those of a local florist for example. There are some things that every website should have though:
A clear structure
You want to advertise yourself as a company or person and if the user cannot easily navigate around your website this will not bode well. A website is all about creating a good impression so it is important that your website is eye catching whilst remaining entirely accessible.
This may seem like an obvious requirement but you will be surprised at the amount of websites I visit that still offer no way of getting in touch with the company. As a minimum you should provide an address and a way of connecting through email, preferably a contact form.
If you are not already, you should be a member of, as a minimum, Facebook and Twitter. Your website should provide links to these accounts and should also try to integrate the data they produce perhaps via a twitter feed or enabling users to share information through plugins.
Your website should enable users to search for information. This provides them a shortcut to get to the information they want. Similarly to having a clear structure to your website, having a search option greatly improves navigation and increases the length of time people will spend on your website.
A site map is another way of improving usability for your users, and perhaps more importantly is a great way to improve your SEO.
Images are a very important element to include in your website. They offer a different way to show what your company or product is all about and hep to break up large sections of text.
Other things you should consider
The above are just the very basics that should be included on a website. There are a lot of other things that you should consider adding to your website, including:
- Blog – A blog is a great way of keeping your users engaged and returning to your website.
- A Content Management System (CMS) – A CMS is a great way of cutting down the costs of managing your website. They can also help you greatly in creating new content and maintaining existing content and your website as a whole.
- Interactive features – Things like a slideshow, games and quizzes can greatly enhance the user experience. The suitability of such features is dependent on your type of website of course.
- Online Shop – Depending on your type of business, adding an online shop can be an extremely beneficial feature. There are still some medium sized companies that do not offer an online shop. The ability to discover your products and purchase them in one place is obviously a huge benefit.
A website is what you make of it. It might be a simple informative one created to increase your reputation or a fully customized online store. Either way, it is important that your website adheres to the basic rules of what a website should contain if you want it to be successful.