Before jumping into the question “Is your website up to 2018 standards” and discussing about what every website must have, lets take a look at on simple fact.
A website is always a first impression about business or services. Process for business owners starts when they receive various proposals to build their website. Here many business owners makes a mistake by choosing the cheapest option amongst them. DON’T DO IT. Ultimately it will either damage brand’s identify on-line for few thousand dollars or requires re-inventing the wheel to make a good website second time which almost doubles the original budget.
Remember, to build a good website which delivers digital results, it must offer a dynamic and engaging user experience. Don’t just ask to build a website which just looks good with the heavy usage of graphics and lacking basic features.
Whether you are looking to re-design your old website or like to build a new one for your business, every website must have features mentioned below will help in ensuring your new website is perfect, and a website up to 2018 standards. With this list, as a client you can also ask an agency or freelancer about your expectations.
Mobile Friendly – Responsive
Responsive design is the most important and mandatory aspect of any business website seeking to remain at the top in highly competitive on-line market. Now a day with every one using smart phones it is compulsory for every website to provide a smooth and easy to navigate experience to their visitors.
One should prefer dropping an idea of building website instead of building it non-responsive. A website up to 2018 standards should be responsive and mobile friendly.
Strong Website Security
Security of website is must as website visitors will look for that before deciding to exchange information or making money transaction. Don’t just look for cheapest hosting server. Shared hosting is an option for small business sites. But if you like to establish an on-line store or any other business where website visitors will often perform money transactions, dedicated server can be preferred over shared hosting. Additionally, website should have SSL enabled.
Most importantly, agency or freelancer who is responsible for the development must have experience and knowledge of various types of website attacks. They should consider every aspects while building the website.
Performance – Fast Loading
Just strong and modern look & feel, website security or responsive layout is not enough to say any website is good. A website must be loading faster to better engage the website visitors. Nobody likes to wait for a longer period of time while browsing website. If they have to then they’ll prefer to switch to another similar website. Website must be designed in a way where it provides prompt response across all devices.
I always prefer optimize performance of a website using GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed before delivering it to my clients. I strongly believe that the website must wowed client as they waited eagerly for to see how their product will be.
Website tracking system provides a full report of analysis and statistics which allows website owner monitoring and tracking visitors of their website. It is must for any website to have a good statistics package working in the background. Wide variety of analytics packages available but Google Analytics is one of the most popular analytics package available.
When the final product/website delivered to the client, analytics package must be there to help client analyzing goals, conversions and traffic information.
SEO Friendly – SEO Ready
A website should be SEO friendly or say SEO ready. It may not be SEO optimized but it should be SEO ready. I am not going deeper into the difference between SEO ready v/s SEO optimized.
SEO ready website means it is having tools needed to optimize the site for SEO. The website should be built in a way where one can easily deal with meta information, image alt text, browser titles, etc… SEO ready website makes the process of content management and actual SEO easier.
Social Media Integration
Integration of social media is mainly for promoting brand on various social media sites and to improve user experience by allowing them to share content easily. Any website should not miss an opportunity to leverage the reach and power of social media websites.
Website visitors often try to find a brand value by visiting their social media profiles on different websites. Placing social media buttons and links on website can be huge beneficial to client if they already have strong profiles on social media websites.
Testimonials, case studies, reviews, current customer logos, etc… elements helps gaining trust of a website visitors. Therefore, every website must have showcased relevant items somewhere on the website. Website homepage is better place to include such information but it can be included anywhere in the website where it is visible and easy to find.
For example, I’ve created a testimonials section on my homepage and placed recommendations which I got on my LinkedIn profile which helps my website visitors getting idea about my working abilities and how much they pleased with my efforts.
Email Marketing Ready
Capturing emails through your website is most important aspect in terms of generating sales and building network. Email capture is critical for every on-line business websites whether it is an e-commerce store or small business website.
A website can have elements like newsletter signup, contact form, subscription form, lead capturing form, etc… to capture email and build a database.
XML Sitemaps and Robots.txt
Every website must have XML Sitemaps and Robots.txt in place. Website visitors will not able to see these files while browsing a website (unless they open up by typing URLs directly) but it must be there for search engines.
XML sitemaps are exists to make crawlers (Google) process easier in finding website pages easily. It is a huge benefit for the SEO as well. Here is an example of XML sitemap https://freelancer-coder.com/sitemap_index.xml.
Robots.txt is to instruct web crawlers/robots about how to crawl various pages on the website. It is a text file containing various rules.
Well Prepared CMS
Many popular Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla are preferred choice for building business websites and even e-commerce stores as well. These CMS are very powerful with rich set of features which helps content management in better way.
But frameworks like Symfony, Laravel, CodeIgniter, etc… are also very popular and widely used to build websites. Such frameworks don’t have CMS in built, instead a developer must need to build an interface to manage content of the site.
Every website must have a CMS at the backend where client can edit existing or post new content easily. Publishing fresh content consistently is the basic requirement of every website.
Call To Action (CTA)
Websites must have call to action elements which prompts customers or website visitors to take certain actions. Call to action element can be built using image or buttons. Well, after presenting all information a website must ask visitor to take further action. It can be a newsletter signup, subscription for a free guide, contact page link, recently launched product, free downloads, schedule a meeting, etc…
Website visitors action is the most important factor for any of the site and CTA makes it possible. It will not just allow visitors to take action but it can increase sales by growing website’s audience.
For example, Request A Quote CTA on the homepage of my website not just helping visitors to find a form to start conversation but it also helps me in getting leads. If this CTA is not there, visitors of my website may need to find it through menu items.
Latest Version Technology
No matter which technology is used to build a website, it should be having latest version. Every frameworks, CMS and core technologies releases frequent updates and one should choose the latest available version to build a new website. It’s really important to keep it up to date but many overlook this necessity. It specially helps in keeping source code secure and make use of latest/updated in built features.
Automated Backup System
Every website must have a good backup system which helps client taking backup regularly with ease. When it comes to crucial, secure and vital information, it is really important for clients to make sure that their website source code and data is backed up in the event of an emergency.
One can always copy source code and data manually via USB or other devices, but it can be really time consuming. Therefore, there must be an automated backup system in every website. As a website owner you can feel secure and burden free when a good automated backup system is in place.
Easy Maintenance Scope
Website maintenance is a key to be a successful website. Similar to an operating system or software program, a website also needs maintenance frequently. Website maintenance helps in improving performance, keeping the code and data up to date, making security checks, removing dead or out dated data, analyzing risk factors, etc…
It’s always very beneficial to client if agency or freelancer who built the website is also taking responsibilities of website maintenance. The main reason is that the person taking on maintenance activity is already aware with the important features of a website and he/she can make sure that updates should not brake anything.
In conclusion, if many of the features listed above are not there in your current website then it is right time to re-design your website. Every website must have features mentioned above, as it can make huge difference on how a website is performing, competing and doing business on-line.
Is your website up to 2018 standards?
As a client if you are thinking to build a website, you must confirm with an agency of freelancer that they are willing to take care of all above points. There can be many more things every website must have like favicon, proper validation on every forms, print friendly styles, etc… But that can make this list really long and it’s really difficult to include all those in single post.
As a freelance developer I have ability to produce a good website. I always prefer to build a website by considering all the points mentioned above. Please feel free to request a free quote and I’ll get back to you with proposal as soon as possible.
Please feel free to leave a comment in case if you think I’ve missed any crucial point. I’ll be very happy to include more items to the list.