2013 Blueprints: Your Website

Have a web presence is important. By now, we all know that to be true. More and more money is spent online each year, and if you’re not showing up, you’re missing out.

But just having a presence is not enough anymore. There are expectations placed on your company’s website by consumers, and if you’re not living up to them, you’re still missing out. Below are five key aspects/characteristics of a successful website that you should strive for in 2013.

  1. Responsive Design – It’s official, responsive design is the way of the future (if not the way of today). For those who are unfamiliar, responsive design is a way of building a website that takes into account the size of the screen a visitor is using, and adjusts the display for optimal viewing. This means your website is optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile browsing all in one build. By the end of next year, make sure your website meets this standard.

  2. Simpler navigation – The best websites are getting simpler. That means fewer crowded pages, less options for where to click or what to read, and big, bold buttons and headlines. The usability of your site is more important than ever before, and that starts with a very simple and clear site navigation. Give fewer options, make the important pages stand out, and cut out all the filler. Make it easy for someone to land on your homepage and get all the information they need to make a purchase or contact you in one or two clicks.

  3. Content – Content is key. Content has always been key. But in 2013, content marketing will become the most important piece of your marketing plan. Develop a blog or news section of your site, find someone (or pay someone) to write for you. Keep pumping out fresh content related to your niche (blog posts, videos, whitepapers) and share that content with the community via social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Pinterest, etc.

  4. Social Community – It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page that lives a life separated from your website anymore. Incorporating social directly on your website is an important part of a successful website in 2013. You can do this in a number of ways. You can add icons to your homepage, create a social page that displays feeds from your social communities, or you can build your own customer login portal where they can interact right on your site. Linking to and from your Facebook page is a start, building a community into your site is the end.

  5. Reviews and Comments – Building off of #4 above, the ability for consumers to comment and rate products and services on your site is becoming more and more common. This does not make sense for everyone, but it makes sense for more companies than would like to admit it. Amazon built an entire business model on this feature, and consumers are growing wary of companies that don’t ask for and showcase public opinion, thinking you might have something to hide. It’s fine if you want to moderate comments, but allow them.