So you own and manage a website. Whether you’re a big business, a small business or a solo entrepreneur, if you want to be engaging and interesting, your site needs content. That content can come in the forms of blogging-style copy, images, video or something else entirely. You can even create content in the form of product pages and promotions by turning your site into an online storefront.
But surely there’s a foundation to all this. Here’s how to get started with content of your own.
The Vital Content List
When designing or revamping an existing website, there are various individual components that are non-negotiable if you want to “make” your brand’s “case.”
An “About Us” page is an excellent example. Every business site should have one because it’s a place to share your company’s history in a brief and appealing way. It’s also where you can state your company mission and morals and even show off a bit of personality. That’s what makes it a great example of vital or cornerstone web content.
Now that we’ve established that you need content, and that there are vital components of any site, let’s get to talking about them.
1. Security and Credentials
If you’re selling something online or collecting personal information from your audience — which includes just about every business out there — then you’ll want to be transparent about your security and protection methods.
Do you use one of the many security platforms such as VeriSign, TrustE, Entrust or GeoTrust? If so, include the company logo and certification somewhere on your site. This tells your audience that you can be trusted and that any and all information they provide is secured.
Furthermore, deploy SSL encryption site for any site that needs additional protection. If you’re dealing with credit card and financial information, Social Security numbers, personal addresses or similar data, then encryption is definitely warranted.
2. Social Media Integration
Today, you cannot get by without some form of social media integration. Whether that means including quick access buttons to share content or products or integrating social network use directly onto your site, “sociability” is a necessary component.
At the very least, you should promote your social channels or accounts on your website. The most common form can be seen on Walmart’s website where their social buttons are located in the footer (or header) to link directly to their connected accounts.
3. Memes or Trends
Many of us can agree that some memes are obnoxious — even those of us who use them regularly. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are often hilarious and a lot of fun. More importantly, they’re part of a social movement that you can leverage for publicity if you know what you’re doing.
Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept the internet? Maybe you’ve been Rickrolled at some point? Whatever the case, these highly popular and viral trends shed light on one particular concept: remaining relevant in the current landscape.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this stuff can only be integrated when the site is finished and active. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. You can deliver memes even at the foundation of a portal. Consider implementing quotes or sayings into your 404 and error pages. Deliver pop-ups or promotional content that is structured around popular memes. It’s possible and incredibly effective.
4. Visual Content Is a Must
By 2019, 80 percent of internet traffic will involve browsing through video content alone. That probably explains why networks like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and even Snapchat are so incredibly popular. People love to view and browse visual-oriented content.
Naturally, you can expect to spruce up a design or site using visual content appropriately. This will become even more important for text-heavy sites, as users will want a visual treat to go along with all that reading. Think about deploying a background video or GIF that plays as soon as a user navigates to a page. Sure, when done wrong it can be abysmal. However, if deployed appropriately, it can really give a site’s design the personality and uniqueness it needs.
Look at these amazing aerial videos shot by Real Estate Exposures. Add a video like this to your landing page. Just imagine it: Beautiful, responsive and downright mesmerizing! What more could you ask from a modern and stunning design?
5. Responsive and/or Mobile Optimized Design
Guys and gals, it’s 2018. Mobile is the primary platform you should be designing for, with desktop as a close second. More people now use mobile devices to browse online than any other platform. If you don’t have a responsive or mobile-optimized site design, you’re missing out.
This applies to not just the foundational elements and overall layout, but the content as well. Images must be of high quality, but also scalable for smaller displays. The same is true of text-based and conventional content. No matter what you’re talking about, it needs to properly scale to fit on a handheld and adhere to an optimized user experience. Scrolling up or down a page is completely acceptable, for instance. Scrolling left or right, on the other hand, is not.
6. Calls to Action
Customers are savvier about marketing and promotional strategies now, which puts an emphasis on subtlety for those involved. Don’t get us wrong — a call to action is still necessary and effective — but you need to do more than simply bold a headline urging customers to buy a product or take action. It all starts with the design and user experience of a site and ends with the message laid on top.
Buttons and contextual elements are important. Colors, images and icons also play a role. Even the placement of said items and their visual ranking on a page matter. Check out how Netflix carefully placed their CTA and in the color red. It’s simple, effective and clearly states what the user should know.
The deployment of related elements starts at the design and development stage and follows all the way through, like it or not.
7. A Fluid Roadmap
You could have the most beautiful and captivating site ever created, but if it isn’t functional you’re still going to have a lot of users leaving, resulting in high bounce rates. Crucial to successful design is the idea of a convenient or useful user experience. You must also create a flow to your site and design that is conducive to proper function. Normally, you structure this using something called a sitemap.
In short, it involves mapping out how you want a site or design to work and flow. Is it logical? Is it easy to understand and navigate? Can someone who’s brand-new to the site have the same experience as someone who’s been there since day one?
This is so important that Google’s search crawlers factor user experience into the search ranking of a given website.
8. Contact Channels
We are way past the days of including a simple “contact” or information-based page that lists ways customers and audiences can get in touch. Thanks to the emergence of mobile use, customers don’t just want a convenient experience — they also want a fast one. This calls for deploying contact channels directly on your site or into your design.
It starts with something like an email contact form that allows customers to send support messages right from your site. More advanced forms of this include inline messaging systems, even those mainly run and operated by a chatbot. See Woebot for an example — it’s the Facebook Messenger AI chatbot for treating depression.
Get With the Times
As we’ve already pointed out — and you no doubt know — it’s 2018. There’s really no room for clowning around anymore when it comes to deploying, updating and maintaining your website. Customers demand a lot more out of an experience these days and you stand to gain quite a lot by giving it to them.
Just follow the tips discussed here and you’ll be well on your way toward creating a convenient, content-heavy site that works to capture audiences rather than frustrating or scaring them off.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.