Overwhelmed with your website launch?? Or looking to take your website to the next level?
This article covers the features every good website must have! From a basic website to an amazing website, some elements can’t EVER be forgotten… Others are strongly recommended to maximize your results and grow your business!
So… What makes a good website?
In this article we break down the parts of a website into manageable steps, so you avoid the mistakes we made and build a solid website as fast as possible.
From website navigation and web design basics all the way up to content creation, marketing and branding… This website checklist includes features that will help you with:
- Increasing your visibility online
- Making your website aesthetically pleasing
- Website effective and easy to use
- Creating engaging content
- Website security
- Measuring your results
1 – Quality Web Hosting
Your website needs a place to live. That place is an online server and hosting companies provide you space in those servers. They store all your website information and make it available for everyone in the world to access. We won’t go deep on this but, when choosing a hosting company there are 3 factors you should keep in mind: Reliability, server speed and customer service.
To start, we totally recommend Bluehost (they offer a FREE domain). They have affordable plans with a very reliable service and an unbelievable customer service. We always used Bluehost and every time we have a problem or a question, we contact their 24/7 chat support and they solve it in minutes. Plus, it has a one-click install to WordPress. (These links include a 50% discount)
2 – Logo
The logo is the face of your brand and it must be positioned in prime locations in your website. You can create a logo for free in a logo generator like Free Logo Design or design it yourself in softwares like Canva. If your budget allows, you can also hire a designer freelancer in marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr.
For our logo, we hired a designer for 5$ on Fiverr and then we did our final touches.
3 – Website icon
The website icon is that little image that appears on your browser tab. It’s good to have an icon that is unique to your brand or that relates your brand’s theme. For example as we want to inspire you to travel the world and work online we’ve put a world icon!
4 – Key information
Your website must have simple and fast information of who are you, what your business is about and how can you help. The visitor should quickly understand what type of value can he get from your website. Also very important to mention your story and why do you stand out from the competition.
Tip: Talk to your “perfect customer persona” and your target audience will be attracted.
Learn how to create your perfect costumer persona with HubSpot
5 – Cohesive Branding
Consistency in your business identity is essential! Not only for brand recognition but also for the effectiveness of your message. Cohesive branding is relevant in superficial things like colors or font types in your website, but also in deeper things like the message you deliver and the emotions you evoke.
Learn more about this topic: Ten ways to build a brand for your small business
6 – Correct and appropriate language
No need to say you need a correct and well-spoken language. Nowadays, mistakes are not allowed. Especially with tools like Google (not sure if you know this one 😅) and, for example, Grammarly (a browser extension).
You also need a clear and easy-to-read language, especially if you write in English (the international language with so many “styles”). Use Hemingway Editor to test your readability and aim for scores above 5.
Also, keep the language according to your niche and target audience. It might make sense to have a perfect and extreme polite language if you talk about politics or finance. But if your audience are travelers or Millenials you should use a more relaxed and funny language.
Take a read in Tomplanmytrip for example. We absolutely love his language!!
7 – Content: Awesome and useful
Content is king! At least, that’s what everyone says… The truth is: the quality of your content is what will determine if your visitors will become your readers and eventually your customers. So, make sure you write high quality content and that your visitors will find what they came searching for. That way, they will come back for more, start engaging with your content, share it, follow your recommendations and ideally buy what you sell!
Learn more about this topic: 7 Tactics to Write Quality Content Your Audience Will Love
8 – Marketing is queen! (She runs the show)
What’s the point of writing a good piece of content if no one is gonna read it?
Content is important but the majority of your energy must go towards promoting it. As our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) inspiration – Neil Patel – says, you should use the 80/20 rule. Spending 20% of your time producing good content and 80% promoting it!
There are endless ways to promote your content. Social media world provides you a world of possibilities (we might write about it soon)! Other methods are influencer marketing, email marketing, blogging communities, etc.
9 – Internal links between your posts
There are several important advantages of linking to your own posts.
First of all, do it when it makes sense: in specific keywords or when you touch a specific subject. This may help the visitor to learn more about a specific topic and also improves the chance of keeping him in your website.
Internal links not only drive traffic to the post you link to but also reduces the bounce rate (% of visitors that leave the website after landing on a page). Plus, when you link to a post (yours or not) it improves the page authority, helping it ranking higher in Google (SEO).
10 – Connect to the social media world
With billions of daily active users, leveraging social media is important for any business nowadays. The truth is, social media is on everyone’s pockets and it gives an opportunity for anyone in this world to have an audience and, therefore, a business.
Connecting your website to social media channels bring several advantages. The most important one is the human interaction it allows you to have with your readers. It’s a great way to develop trust and meaningful relationships with your audience! And to keep the world aware of your business in different and engaging formats (photo, video, etc).
Make sure to have visible social media buttons in every page on your website, making easy for the readers to follow you. Also include social media share buttons in blog posts, allowing the readers to share it with their friends/followers.
Tip: Start by leveraging one social media channel you like before jumping to the next channel.
11 – Provide a good User Experience
User experience refers to the overall interaction of the visitor with your website: its attitude and emotions. You want to provide a good user experience! How?
First, create useful content that answers questions and solve problems. Then, make it easy for a visitor to find what he came searching for, whether if the visitor landed on a blog post or in the Home page. Ideally, providing a pleasant journey to the visitor with matching colors, fonts, images, headlines, calls-to-action (CTA’s), etc.
12 – Optimize for all devices (Mobile Friendly)
More than 50% of the internet traffic is accessed by mobile phones nowadays! Ensure the visitors of your website have an experience optimized for his device. It must not only work well but also look good on mobile phones.
This is important for the overall user experience but also for SEO because Google analyzes your website! If it is mobile friendly it will benefit your rankings and if it is not it will hurt them.
Important factors for mobile optimization are:
- Design for the “fat finger” – make it easy to navigate
- Fast load speed
- Appropriate font-sizes
- Not having elements bigger than the screen
Tip: Look for mobile responsive themes. Or, if you like to control everything (like we do), build your website in Elementor, like we did with Travelb4settle.
Learn more about this topic: Mobile SEO Guide by Backlinko
13 – Navigation
A good website navigation is clear and intuitive and improves the user experience. It not only reduces bounce rates but generates better results for any website. It must be easy for the visitors to find what they want or need, and also suggest a path that matches the business goals.
Walk the visitors through your business’ strategy like they were babies crossing a road!
Here’s some examples:
- A header navigation bar with the most important options
- Tags and Categories well organized and visible to click
- Related posts in the end of each post and throughout the post
- Sidebar filled with important information and your best content
- A robust footer filled with options
- Calls-to-action driving traffic to wherever you want and makes sense to the user
14 – Sidebar: you can’t ignore it!
Sidebar is such an important area of your website. Why? Because it is the only common space across all your posts. A good sidebar not only improves the visitor’s navigation but also invites to go further in the strategy of your business.
Many people out there debate about the ideal layout of a sidebar. We vote for ~30% of the screen width on the right side, but what really matters is what you include there.
We divide the side bar in 3 different sections:
- First section: A short but strong bio and (if you like) a search bar.
- Middle section: Your best and/or recent content, tags, categories and a opt-in for your email list.
- Last section: Social profiles, archive, ads and others.
15 – Build an email list
Email marketing has been an effective marketing strategy for most businesses online for decades. And it still is!
Building an email list allows you to email thousands of people at once and build relationships with your audience, provide them value and promote your website, products or services!
You build an email list through opt-in forms in your website where visitors input their name and contact (email or phone), becoming “leads”.
Popular places for opt-ins are: sidebar, pop-ups and middle of posts. Best strategy to convert visitors into leads is by offering a “lead magnet”. It can be a PDF, an e-book or something free that convinces your visitors to give you their info! Here is an example:
Tip: If someone trusts you their personal information it means they are open to hear what you have to say. And potentially buy what you have to sell! Don’t ruin that trust!
16 – Speed up your website
The speed of your website is essential for your business. First, because Google favors fast websites to rank higher in searches (SEO). But also because 40% of the people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
If you want more advanced information on how to speed up your WordPress site, consider joining this Facebook Group: WordPress Speed Up
17 – Plugins
Plugins are tiny pieces of software built to expand your website’s capabilities adding new features and functions to it. There are thousands of plugins with many different purposes (design, opt-in forms, optimization, SEO, etc). It’s very easy to install too many plugins… However, this will slow your website, bring security vulnerabilities or even crash your website due to incompatibilities! So a rule of thumb is: fewer plugins the better.
Before installing a plugin, check if you can embed code instead. For example, we didn’t install the Mailchimp plugin (our email provider). Instead, we got the html code from their site and implemented our opt-in forms manually.
If you are installing a plugin anyway, always analyze their installations number, reviews and if is frequently updated (important!). This will give you a clear idea if it is a good play installing it or not.
18 – Preserve your integrity
The integrity of your business and the trust of your audience may take years to build but it can take seconds to destroy. Always pay extra attention to that. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t copy other people’s content;
- If you quote someone, always link to them;
- Don’t use photos that are not yours without linking or asking permission (you can use stock free photos from places like unsplash or pexels);
- Don’t promote things you don’t use and you don’t believe in!
Google is smarter than ever and your audience deserves your best!
19 – Website security is a must!
There is an attack on the web every 39 seconds!! Let’s face it, you launched your website, invested hours and energy on it, creating content and already getting some visitors. The last thing you want is your website hacked or having sensitive data exposed to any cyber attack.
To avoid this, the first step is choosing a quality and reliable website hosting because you will benefit from their own security in their servers. Bluehost provides all that, plus a free SSL (SSL – Secure Sockets Layer) certificate and Spam & DDoS attack protection. (DDoS – Distributed Denial-of-Service)
SSL doesn’t protect against malicious attacks. However, it is crucial to encrypt the communication of data between websites/servers.
SSL certificate acts like a “secure” badge and Google will hurt if you don’t have it. You can test your website’s security here.
Basic things you can do are:
- Keep plugins and WordPress (or other CMS) always updated;
- Create strong passwords;
- Scan your computer;
- Use a Firewall & Malware plugin (we recommend Wordfence);
- Always have a backup of your website (we use Updraft Plus).
Learn advanced website security: 10 Tips to Improve Your Website Security
20 – Google Analytics
Google Analytics (GA) is a free but insanely powerful tool that will measure all sorts of analytic information of your website.
GA allows you to understand and know your audience (where are they from, how old are they, what devices they use, etc.). Also helps you to understand what type of content or platform works better for you. It measures how many people visit your website, what pages they visited, how long they stayed and where they came from!
Measuring your results and understanding the behavior of the visitors in your website is crucial for any business. Here are some improvements you can make based on analytics:
- Create the type of content that performs better;
- Use the appropriate language for your audience’s age and interests;
- Focus on the social platforms that bring you the most traffic;
- Improve pages with high bounce rate;
- Don’t be a perfectionist like we are sometimes (we are working on this 😅) ! As we use to say “it’s better done than perfect”… Start with the basics, just to get it going, and then with time add new features and improve it.
- Ask or listen to people’s feedback and keep a list of things you want or need to improve in your website. What matters is always making progress!
We really hope you found this website’s features checklist useful. And that you start to use some of these website best practices today!
What do YOU think??
Did you find this website checklist useful? Is there anything critical we forgot to include?
Let us know in the comments below!
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