If you've visited our site before, I hope that we've already convinced you that your business needs a website. This blog is written with the assumption that you already have one for your business. I'm going to jump right into the essentials every website needs. First of all..
1. Your website absolutely needs to be functional.
No one likes wasting time on a website trying to locate what they are searching for. Make sure your website is laid out in a way that makes sense and is easy for the potential client to follow. If your website does not have every page listed in a navigation of some form (top navigation bar, sidebar) you probably have a functionality problem. A site map isn't going to save the day, either. People don't like jumping through hoops to find what they are looking for. The less clicks, the better.
2. Your website needs good content.
Contrary to popular belief, making your site barren (only including the parts that are of utmost importance) does not help your content stand out. It really just makes it look like your business doesn't have much to offer. Don't worry about keeping it "short and sweet." Think of populating your website as a magazine would feature an article. Magazine articles are usually a couple of pages long with many subtitles, block quotes, and short paragraphs. The block quotes and subtitles are often in a larger, more prominent font, and truly stand out from the rest of the text. Even if you don't read the entire article, you probably will read the short blurbs, and (who know's) your interest may be sparked and you could then decide to read the whole article. It's the same way with websites. Emphasizing the most important information is more appealing and interesting than a page of bullet points.
3. Your website needs a dynamic and interesting home page.
You've only got one home page, might as well make it great! This is the first impression, make it a good. This is an occasion where "short and sweet" could apply. You wouldn't flood someone you just met with all of the gritty details of your business. A home page shouldn't do that either. Just say hello and welcome the potential client to look around and learn a bit about your business. Also, be sure they know you're there if they have any questions. Which brings me to my next point (and something that I've harped on before)...
4. Your website needs contact information.
How else are your potential clients going to find answers to the questions your website raises? How will they get in touch with you if they decide to use your business for their needs? How will they find your office without an address or, better yet, a map? My guess is, in this day and age, they will simply head back over to Google and find a business who does have a way for viewers to get in touch with them in a simple and easy way. People are different. Some of us would much rather email a company, while others want to talk on the phone, or even in person. It's best to cater to all in this respect and have multiple ways for people to communicate with you and your business.
5. Your website needs a mobile version.
We now have responsive layouts that automatically adjust in size to accommodate the type of device the site is being viewed on. However, if your website doesn't have this ability, it at least needs a mobile version. News Flash: Flash sites are not mobile friendly. As you've probably noticed, many people are using their tablets and mobile devices to roam the web nowadays. Cater to them. Have different ways to view your website. Frankly, if I can't pull your website up on my phone, there is a very small chance I will take the time to look your website up again on my computer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what every website should have. There are many other elements that work together to make a website great, such as: social media integration, professional photography and an updated design. However, if you just want the very basic, at least include these five things in your website. Because...
A website without function confuses your potential & existing clients.
A website without good content is a let down and not good for SEO
A website without an interesting home page will just result in more page bounces.
A website without contact information is a wasted investment.
A website without a mobile version is disappointing and inconvenient.
Do the best for your business by catering to your potential clients in every way possible, your website is no exception.