What makes a website successful?

Articles » What makes a website successful?
By Jeremy Shipman on October 6, 2012.

For the purposes of this article, a successful website is one that will generate more business for its owner. But what makes it successful in the first place?

There are two factors that contribute to a website's success: on-site persuasion and off-site promotion.

Here is a quick summary of each:

On-site persuasion: turn website visitors into paying customers or leads

When a visitor first arrives at your website, you have a crucial opportunity to market your business to them. First impressions last. You have only seconds to capture the attention of your potential customers.

This means your website should have:

  • A high quality professional design that fits your business, and is consistent with your brand.
  • Trust building content that gives visitors confidence in your business offerings. How to build trust and credibility...
  • Clear layout and structure, making it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for next.
  • Obvious calls to action that shape the way a visitor uses your website. Calls to action are distinct buttons, forms, or phone numbers, giving an obvious step for the visitor to take. You should have at least one one on every page, even if it is just a contact form. Learn more about calls to action...

Much of getting persuasion right is understanding how a visitor thinks. Make sure you understand typical ways people use websites, and also perform your own measurements and analysis of your visitors behaviour.

Off-site promotion: get visitors to your website

Promoting your website means getting more visitors from other sources to your website. Promotion should only really be done once you have made an initial effort at getting persuasion right. You don't want to have lots of visitors only to lose them because your persuasion isn't very good.

There are various different ways you can promote your website but often they fall into three distinct categories:

  • Good search engine results
  • Paid advertising and programs
  • Social networking
  • Direct links

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

If you use the Internet you have probably used Google, the worlds largest search engine. You type in what you're looking for and you're instantly presented with many results. Obviously there is only limited space to display results and visits is don't have infinite patience too look through them all. If you want to be found on the search engine results, your site needs to appear early, if not first.

SEO can be a complex field of understanding, but there are two basic things to do: on-site optimisation, and off-site back-linking.

Google the company provide some good tips for doing search engine optimisation. If you want your site to be optimised well, then you should employ a professional to do this for you. Also be aware that it can take months to see results.

Social Networking

Social networks are services that connect people to other people. Some services are specific to certain interests, or formats.

Here are some social networks that you should consider getting your business signed up to:

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can get you business. There is a risk of spending unwisely though if you don't set up advertising campaigns properly. It helps to involve someone who has done it before to help you optimise your budget for most return.

Direct links

Links are a fundamental building block of the World Wide Web, connecting pages within websites, and websites to other websites. Links can also be found in emails, QR codes, or in physical media such as business cards.

If you have more links to your website from other sites, then there is more possibility that you'll be found.