In 2015 our founder created a blog post about website must haves. In our content review process this year I'm looking over all the previous assets to determine current value and alignment with our content strategy and SMART goals.
So much has changed in digital marketing since 2015. SO I have to tell you, I was SHOCKED at what I found in this article that our fearless leader, founder, and tech guru posted in 2015!"Businesses can't survive today without a stellar website. It's important to have a beautiful, user-friendly website, but it can't stop there. Beauty doesn't get your website found on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine. To be effective, a website must attract visitors, provide value to those visitors, collect information, and yes, look great, " said Dustin Brackett, CEO and Founder, in his 10 Website Must Haves blog post from November of 2015. Guess what?
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM ARE STILL TRUE TODAY!
1. Mobile Friendly Design
The numbers here are astonishing. Every day more and more people are ditching the desktop or laptop in favor of mobile phones and tablets. This isn't just us saying so either - according to Statista, in 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 50.3% in the previous year. Mobile currently accounts for half of all global web pages served.
It's also not a fad. Gary Vaynerchuck, founder of Vayner Media, has completely ditched his computer for his phone. Completely.
Now, if you don't think mobile-first for your website, you're probably missing the boat.
2. Content that is actually USEFUL
"Content is King", is still a real thing. But irrelevant or uninteresting content doesn't do your website visitors, or your business any good.
This is a cornerstone Inbound methodology that we STILL recommend to clients over and over.
4. Google Analytics
YEP. Data, data, data. Remember #1?
Google Analytics shows you the proof of how many visits you are getting via mobile vs. laptop! (There is another data collector that we highly recommend that I'll mention in the 2019 section below.)
5. User-Friendly Design
(built for your CUSTOMERS, not YOU)
It's 2019, we shouldn't be building websites based on our own biases and opinions. Our UX Design, or user experience, should be most important. We, as consumers, want a functional website built to help us find what we're looking for quickly. We're not interested in your version of design, functionality, or layout - we want it our way.
Websites have to be built using data and use metrics of how our visitors are using the website - not guesses or personal preferences. It's time to put the egos aside and build websites that our visitors love, even if it's not exactly what we originally envisioned.
6. Social Media Integration
Another no-brainer for us now vs. where website designs were in 2015. People want to interact and engage with you on social. Make it easy for them.
Yep, still an important part of SEO whether you decide to share it with visitors or not. Your sitemap is a search engine's map to your content. Yeah - it's 2019, but search engines still don't have Waze.
8. Link Building
Yep, more SEO. Remember that both internal links and external links are important on your website and both must be authentic in the user experience.
Yes, images are necessary for so many reasons. The important aspect now is 2 fold:
- Images must load quickly
- Serving images that are to size rather than the browser having to scale them will save tons of time.
- Images MUST have alt text
- Search engines do not have eyes. They can't see your images. Your alt text is what tells them what your image is about.
Please make sure that you are consistent from page to page on your site AND across all of your marketing initiatives. This is why companies have brand style guides (and if you don't, GET ONE!).
But Wait, There's More:
Though all of the 10 above are still must haves -- in 2019 you need more.
Website design has gotten a refresh itself. The build, launch and forget it for 2 years is not realistic anymore. Visitors and search engines expect to see updates more often and honestly your sales people do too! Track your visitor data, make updates based on that data, and watch your conversions soar.
This is a heat mapping tool that tracks how web visitors consume your website content. It is fascinating -- and also a must have to upgrade your site.
C. Topic Cluster Site Architecture
Search engines algorithms are moving away from keyword focused page ranks and toward Topic Clusters for their rankings. The architecture of your site needs to change even if the content does not. The idea here is that you want your similar content to be packaged together. Telling search engines that blog posts, pages, and additional content support one another (through internal links) will help to create topic clusters. When one page or piece of content sees a jump in search engine rankings, so will the others.
With these three additions in 2019 you'll be setup for an optimal Growth Driven Designed website that will take you beyond your 2020 goals.