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If you're building a website, it's important not to overlook these details
Your website is your salesman that never sleeps, doing business for you 24/7. It makes sense to ensure that it’s the best it can be. How you achieve that is a combination of graphics and words, ease of navigation, performance speed and so on.
However, there are some basics that every website must have to be successful and we are here to help steer you on the right path.
So let’s jump straight in and explain what the Top 10 Must-Haves are for a business website.
Usage includes analysis or marketing services your website may use. The policy should be GDPR-compliant and also meet the California Online Privacy Protection Act if applicable.
About Us page
You generally like to know from whom you are buying, don’t you? We tend not to buy from people we don’t trust. That’s why your About Us page is one of the most important pages on your website.
Its aim is to reassure prospective customers and establish your credentials as a reputable and trustworthy vendor. You can do that by telling the story of your business, highlighting your experience and including short bios of key team members along with photos.
Spend time on it. Look at good examples from other websites. It’s worth engaging a professional writer to craft the right words to get your image across in the best way possible.
Terms and Conditions
They serve several purposes but the most important is limiting your legal liability and should state the jurisdiction (country, state or province) under whose laws you operate.
Most people will never read them but they give visitors a feeling of reassurance and safety, which are important positives in converting them to paying customers.
You can use online T&C generators if your website is simply a marketing tool. If you are actually selling products or services then the best thing to do is hire legal advice. It’s only when somebody takes legal action against your business that you will realize how important robust and relevant T&Cs are.
Website uptime monitoring
If your website is your tireless 24/7 salesman, then you need to know that it’s working, or rather when it’s not working. Downtime means lost revenues.
Availability monitoring is provided by an external service and can work at many levels depending on what you need and how much you are prepared to pay. The most basic alert tells you when a web page (usually your home page) cannot be accessed.
Monitoring can check a whole range of performance aspects and provide useful analytics. Factors such as page load speed, email system, transaction processing and many more.
Hundreds of millions of people suffer from disabilities that make it difficult to access your website. Even just growing older often means it gets harder to read some fonts.
Accessibility also includes things like catering for small screen devices, devices with alternative input methods, and even slow internet connections.
It only takes a little planning at the design and coding stage to incorporate the basics that make access far easier. Then people with disabilities can use special tools and plugins.
A little forethought can convert what would be disappointed visitors into customers for life. Find out more about accessibility at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Tests for all links, forms and payment systems
Functional testing is critical because defects can mean lost revenues and visitors who will never return. It’s best to adopt a methodical approach and actually write down every link and form that needs testing, screen by screen, and what the expected outcomes are.
That also makes it easy and efficient to carry out regression tests after changes have been made. It’s also a good idea to ask somebody unfamiliar with your website to carry out these tests. Fresh eyes may spot errors that you might have glossed over.
Sure it may be tedious and repetitive, but it’s like checking a boat for leaks. It’s vital.
Licensing for any third-party software
There is an abundance of very useful third-party applications and systems that you can integrate into your website. Anything from tracking visitor activity on a web page to full-blown e-commerce services is achievable with these add-ons. Many are free but, unsurprisingly, you pay for what you get.
Be sure to make any usage legal by installing only correctly licensed software, whether or not you have to pay for it. The last thing you want is for a critical component of your sales mechanism to fail because a licensing issue has stopped it from operating.
How would you like it if somebody “stole” one of your images and used it on their website as though it were their own? Not good, so don’t ever do it. You could even be on the receiving end of a Cease And Desist letter from a lawyer.
It’s not very difficult to obtain completely legal images, many of them totally free of charge or royalties. Images issued under the Creative Commons License usually require only attribution of the author and sometimes not even that. Many image repository sites permit free download and usage of a vast range of royalty-free images with not even attribution required.
The golden rule is not to simply take any old image you find online, no matter how appealing or relevant it may seem. At least find the owner and request permission first.
Clear return/refund and shipping policies
These — or the lack of them — can make or break a potential sale. Customers frequently seek out this information so make sure it is clearly and easily available. Avoid bundling it in with the Terms and Conditions. Be sure to publish your physical address too to reassure customers.
Shipping: Locations you do NOT ship to, how quickly goods will be dispatched, what carrier and at what cost; these are the most common questions customers will have.
Returns: What conditions must be met and what the process is, the return address, contact details for returns, who pays return shipping costs; they are the bare minimum you need to be clear about.
Refunds: Whether special “sale” items are refundable, if a receipt or packing slip is needed, whether shipping costs are refunded too are just some of the topics you should clarify.
All legal and contact details
Just as with the About Us page, clear and accessible contact details lend credibility to your business. Visitors want to know how they can contact you and where you are located. In Germany it’s called Impressum and is a legal requirement that goes back to the days when flyers were handed out. The authorities needed to know who published them and where to contact or locate the promoters.
It’s just pure common sense to make these details easy to find. You should also include links to any social media accounts for your business. At a minimum, include a contact form and street mailing address where legal papers can be served. Better still, think about it from the point of view of potential customers and what might sway them in favor of buying your proposition.
Legally required details in many jurisdictions include company registered number, name of legal entity (not just a trading name) and tax/VAT number.