What Makes a Successful Website?
There are plenty of digital marketing resources on the web that advocate the latest and greatest tips of the trade based on what’s trending and which direction the wind’s blowing. Seriously, spend some time Googling internet marketing and you can practically smell the ravenous content generation machine grasping at the SEO tip of the week or the Facebook flavor of the day.
You could spend months or years struggling to keep up with all of this and fiddling with all bells and whistles of your website, trying out the lastest SaaS product and installing clever plugins, but if you don’t have the basics in place from the start, your killer website will end up being a flop.
The following 5 foundational basics are what separate the successful websites from the trash bin.
Mind them well.
A Successful Website Looks Professional
Let’s be honest, we all judge books by their covers, it’s a fact of life (and of marketing). If your website looks like some 1995 Angelfire reject spit out of the WayBack Machine, it’s time to upgrade your look with a web design makeover.
A well-designed website is more than an expression of vanity or pickiness, it says something about the professionalism of you and your business. As Tom Ford once told GQ magazine, “dressing well is just good manners.” Putting effort and aesthetic into your website shows visitors (and customers) that you care about their experience. How you present yourself says something about how serious you take your business and the information offered on your site.
So don’t be the ugly, stinky kid on the playground that nobody wants to play with: get your act together and get a professional web design that speaks the language of modern web users.
A Successful Website has a Clearly Defined Business Model
We’re talking about successful websites here, not pretty ones but rather sites that appropriately execute on a clear strategy and purpose. A website by itself is just text, images, and code. It’s the correct pairing of an appealing design with a structured purpose that makes it really convert visitors into customers.
Your website’s business model may have any combination of the standard internet revenue models, including:
- Selling physical products
- Selling digital products (downloads)
- Referring sales to an affiliate product (physical or digital)
- Displaying Advertising
- Recruiting to a Paid Members section
These are all great models for generating revenue from the ones and zeros of the Interwebz but you have to be clear about exactly what the revenue generation model is in order to successfully execute on your website.
A Successful Website Puts Everything to the Test
Since the birth of this crazy Internet revolution, the whole thing has been a crap shoot. It’s largely educated guesswork because no one really knows what’s going to happen next. The strategies of digital market fluctuate constantly based on technological innovation and the shifting tides of culture (what humans are doing).
However, if your website is to be successful, you can’t sit back and hope for the best. If you build it, they will come only works with dead baseball players in cornfields… not with websites. To truly have control of the success or failure of your website, you have to be scientific and disciplined, putting all of your clever ideas to the test.
Pro marketers (like these jokers) set up experiments and conduct tests all the time to see if our brainy ideas really hold water. Techniques like split testing allow us to try a few different iterations of a landing page, a Call-to-Action, or an ad with real numbers telling us which one works best. Data doesn’t lie and tools like Google Analytics give us unprecedented insight into the real nuts and bolts of the site and show us exactly what’s working and what’s not.
A Successful Website Prioritizes Traffic Generation
Back to the dead baseball players… you can’t just sit back and wait for people to find your site. The Internet is a vast ecosystem with websites rising and falling overnight, consuming one another and evolving all the time. If you want people to find you and consume your content, you have to be proactive about getting them there.
There are a wide range of promotional techniques available for getting people to your website, from search optimization and social media to paid advertising on a variety of platforms. It doesn’t matter which of these methods you go after, so long as you put in some effort to generate traffic. The only way to truly fail at this is to do nothing.
So, to recap, if you just want to build a beautiful little flower of a website that will live and (eventually) die in some unknown corner of the web jungle, go right ahead, champ! No one’s gonna stop you.
However, if you’re in it to win it and want real live people to actually visit your site and give you money, you need to make sure these 4 pillars of a successful website are firmly in place. A beautiful (or at least palatable) design, a clear business model (with goals), a means of testing your assumptions, and a consistent, ongoing practice of generating traffic through the techniques and tools of digital marketing.
If you’re looking for more advice on how to make your website a success,