For many businesses, a website is undeniably critical for reaching new audiences — and is often the first impression someone will have of your brand.
But having a website alone isn't enough to reach and convert new customers. It's equally vital that your website is well-designed, or you risk losing valuable leads.
Website design plays a huge role for a few reasons: First, web design can impact your website's ability to rank on search engines for keywords related to your products or services. Additionally, web design can influence whether a user stays on your site once they find it.
And, lastly, web design will ultimately impact how many leads and prospects you're able to convert into customers.
Good website design always begins with the question, "What is the main action we want someone to take when they visit our site?"
However, "good" website design can seem vague — what exactly do marketers mean when they say, "That's an impressive website design"?
To uncover key design features you'll want to include in your website in 2021 and beyond, we asked 285 people around the U.S. which elements they feel are most important for a company website.
1. According to 62% of those polled, including contact information on your website is critical.
Including contact information seems simple, but a lot of companies miss this. And it's undeniably important — in fact, those surveyed rated "Contact Us Information" as the most important element you can include on your company's website.
You'll want to include the phone number, email address, or other contact medium you want people to reach you for sales inquiries — preferably in an easy-to-find location, like the header of the page.
Also, consider including a clickable "Email us!" CTA that either opens an email client or links to your contact form. And, speaking of forms, you might want to embed "Contact Us" forms throughout your site. Visitors don't need to go on a scavenger hunt to find out how to get in touch with you.
2. 19% believe a blog is most important.
All digital, social, and other online marketing requires quality content. And a blog is one of the most effective opportunities you have to create and distribute high-quality content related to your products or services.
Out of those surveyed, 19% believe it's actually the most important element on a business' website.
To get maximum SEO benefit, your blog should be listed under your domain (something like www.yourcompany/blog) instead of off-site through a third-party service.
Ultimately, a blog can help you reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and convert prospects through educational, valuable content.
3. An About Us page is a vital element, and can help your brand share its story.
Sharing your story and highlighting core values is critical for your brand's long-term success. In fact, 85% of consumers say they'll only consider a brand if they trust the brand.
As shown in the poll we conducted, an About Us page is the second-highest rated element, with 31% ruling an About Us page the most important element — overshadowing live chat, product images/video, and even case studies.
Simply put, people care about who they do business with, so tell people who you are and why your work matters. That said, keep it brief. Customers don't have time to read a research paper.
4. You'll want to include social media icons to drive traffic to your social pages.
We know social media icons are important, but I was surprised to see this element overshadow live chat, customer case studies, and blog as the most important element of a company's website, according to 30% of those surveyed.
Once your website is regularly bringing in traffic, it's important you link out to your social media pages so prospects and customers can follow you.
However, it's important you don't overdo it — when in doubt, go for simplicity over scale. For instance, if you work for an ecommerce company, consider linking to a few visually appealing pages, such as Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube.
Of course, don't add platforms that you don't update regularly. You're building trust, and that comes by regularly having updated and relevant content and answering queries from customers and leads.
5. According to 20% percent of those polled, customer testimonials can effectively take your website to the next level.
Potential customers need to trust you before choosing to work with you. Fortunately, customer testimonial pages can help you effectively build that trust with prospects.
Use your website to build your credibility by sharing your expertise and successful track record with clients and customers. When you do get testimonials, ask your clients for permission to use their real names. Real endorsements from recognizable businesses and organizations means a lot more than an anonymous testimonial or a quote from a fictional persona.
Case study pages should have a consistent, concise format and template to explain what problem a customer had, how your company solved it, and what process you used to get to resolution.
6. Geographic details are invaluable for local search SEO.
And, as shown in our research, 26% feel a business' physical location is a key component of an effective website.
The pandemic has made many of us forget a physical world exists. Most businesses with brick-and-mortar locations rely on customers within a certain geographic area. Fortunately, when many people search for a product or service, they include a location. Including your location information will help your SEO strategy and help people unfamiliar with your region find your business.
For instance, if you need a locksmith, you might search "locksmith in Maplewood, NJ." This is why you should use your location in page titles and other metadata, as well as in the text that appears on your website. If you have several cities you serve, you should consider creating landing pages on your site for each location for easier navigation.
7. Live chat is an important element of a business' website in 2021.
According to 28% of our respondents, live chat is a necessary component of a successful website.
Chatbots can't replace real people with customer service, but they are a good alternative for those who don't want to call or email and may be inquiring about services or simple FAQs. To meet customers where they are and provide the instant feedback they require, consider installing a live chat option on your website.
Chatbots are easy to program and many don't even require code. Artificial intelligence has made this functionality much more feasible for companies of all sizes. In fact, many companies offer live chat as a simple plugin for your CMS platform.
Other reasons to consider a chatbot:
44% of online consumers say having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
8. 27% of people say it's most important to use original videos and images of your products or services on your website.
Customers like images — but they are weary of stock photos, particularly of products or services. This is where authentic behind-the-scenes videos and photos can help.
For instance, if your company provides a service such as landscape design or IT maintenance, show before-and-after pictures of your work.
If your service is something less tangible, such as insurance or life coaching, show pictures of your friendly staff and your belief system using visuals. Or, better yet, include video. Videos where you are explaining your business' purpose are powerful opportunities for increasing trust with potential customers.
9. According to 10% of those polled, a newsletter sign-up button is a valuable component of a company's website.
Offering visitors to your site a chance to stay up-to-date via a subscription to your blog posts, newsletters, or product releases is a great way to stay top-of-mind for prospects and customers and increase brand loyalty.
A subscription will let you share information about your company through email marketing, and build your email list at the same time. Use this list to share information you think your clients and prospects will find valuable whenever you have it.
Finally, Don't Forget About Analytics
Should you simply limit your web design to just these nine important design elements? Of course not. Depending on your industry and business needs, there are a number of other design integrations that should be considered a priority.
And, of course, we can't forget the value of a compelling homepage, effective site navigation, mobile responsiveness, and more technical aspects like readability and accessibility.
There's also one other critical element you should consider when designing your website: Analytics. Analytics can help you determine how your website is currently performing, the pages that attract the most visitors, and how you might improve and iterate on your web design for the long-haul.
Ultimately, it's important to continue testing your web design over time to ensure it continues to meet — and exceed — consumers expectations.
Originally published Mar 19, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated March 19 2021