“What things actually make a website successful?”
“Which elements are the most important?”
“What should I spend my time focusing on the most?”
You may have had those questions (or something like them) buzzing around your mind a few times while planning for a new website, or reevaluating your current one.
And as a web professional, I could write a 4,000-word blog post highlighting the most important elements of a successful website….but that’s been done before, and I don’t want to hash out the same mumbo-jumbo that’s out there.
Because I’ll be honest, the most important element of your website relates to who your target audience is, and what industry you’re in.
The world wide web that we all love so much, isn’t as black and white as other web experts make it seem.
Some things work better for some than others, and you gotta keep your own business in mind when creating and tweaking your website so that it ultimately works the best for your specific audience.
So, I wanted to give you a different perspective on this whole thing.
I wanted to showcase some real-live online business experts who have had success with their websites.
I wanted to give you first-hand advice from some pretty kick-ass humans so that it could shed some light on your own business and help you navigate the waters of the internet a little easier.
I reached out to 15+ online experts and asked them all the same question:
“What’s the one thing that you attribute a lot of your website success to?”
And honestly, their answers kind of surprised me.
So, keep reading, because the most important element of a successful website might not be what you think…
Advice From The Experts:
Here’s what the experts have to say about what the most important element of their successful website is…
Allison Marshall, Founder, Wonderlass
“In a world where there are, quite literally, over a BILLION websites online, it’s extremely important to create a website that not only attracts your dream customers and functions great, but one that allows you to STAND OUT and be remembered online. That’s why I’ve made it a point to infuse myself into every single aspect of my branding on my website!
I pay attention to the little details AND I put my personal stamp on everything. As a result, I’ve been able to stand out in one of the most crowded industries that there is. People remember my website (and me!) which has allowed me to gain traction quicker.”
Julie Harris, Owner, Whiskey & Red
“If you are like us, and your business is almost entirely online, it is important to portray yourself as accurately and authentically as possible. While logos and branding are critical elements for any small business, along with a solid marketing strategy, valuable content, and services, when it comes to the web, people are more prone to distrust or hesitate to invest if they feel a lack of personal connection to the brand.
People will always do business with a person before they do business with a logo. For us, investing in professional brand photography from day one was a huge game changer. As people are hiring us – our personality, our style, our expertise… etc to help them fulfill a need, it was important to showcase as much of us as needed to make that personal connection.
Professional brand photography put a face with our name as well as showcased us in the most professional light. It helped clients picture what it might look like doing business with us. As new as we were, we were bringing in bigger more ideal clients right away due to our visually professional presence online. By far one of our best investments to date. ”
Heidi Yarger, Creative Director, Spitfiregirl
“Style + Reputation. Clients tell me that when they come to my site, they know my style (clean, modern, feminine) right off the bat. And by clearly displaying my work, and informing them as to what I do – above the fold – there’s little guesswork. I can’t tell you how many times I see designers (and clients) NOT doing this.
Having lots of experience in one or two niches helps to establish you as an expert, which is key if you want to use reputation as a way to drive sales. My clients know that when they work with me, it’s a no B.S. zone, and we are together to do great work!
ps: Of course, having a name like “Spitfiregirl” certainly doesn’t hurt either ;)”
Jeseph Meyers, Partner, Queen City Media
“Specialize, specialize, specialize.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of appearing as a generalist who can “do it all”. Website copy should not create more work for visitors. Don’t make people dig through lengthy service/product/about pages that discuss everything you do. Instead, create landing pages/content areas that are specific to a single topic.
In the early days of our agency’s website, we made the mistake of trying to communicate our broad spectrum of services. We conducted an audit of all of our content and decided to create hyper-specific pages for each of our services (some were event spread over different verticals). So instead of creating one long page about “Digital Marketing Services” we created a landing page for each service ex: SEO Services in Buffalo, NY – SEO for Real Estate Agencies – Custom WordPress Development for Small Businesses.
This is a lot of work but allowed us to rank for the specific searches being conducted by our prospective clients. Not only did we increase organic traffic for each of these specific services but the visitors reaching these pages got exactly what they searched for.”
'Website copy should not create more work for visitors.' - Jeseph MeyersClick To Tweet
Kathie Wiehanne, Creative Director, Bluchic
“The use of powerful images on Bluchic website (especially the homepage) to illustrate our brand message! People who skip over words will focus on those images first and use them to create a visual story about what our brand is and what we offer.
We’ve been using the premium styled stock photos from SC Stockshop and then we created room in our budget for a personalized styled photo shoot by Shay Cochrane of SC Stockshop. It’s been a game-changer!”
Kyrsten Sherwood, Co-Founder, Copper Kettle Co
“We’ve found personable, connecting copywriting to probably be THE most beneficial element of our website’s success (that and high-quality photos!). We’ve had multiple people tell us that they knew we were the brand for them because of a single word that we used on our site (“sheeeit” was one that comes to mind, haha).
It’s amazing what conversational copywriting can do for a website and a brand – having natural, relaxed and conversational verbiage can make a huge difference when you’re looking to stand out in a crowded market of “therefore’s” and “contact us’s”.
Use some of the words that you use in everyday speech and you can’t go wrong!”
Charlotte O’Hara, Web Designer, CharlotteO’Hara.Ca
“I’ve worked hard to build a successful website that sets me apart from others in my industry, and the biggest thing I attribute this to is that I add a human element to my digital presence. As a web designer/developer, I try really hard to make the subject matter accessible to people who are “technologically challenged” and aren’t familiar with the subjects I cover. I avoid technical terms and jargon, explain everything in plain language, and embrace images and video content. This way it feels like a friend is teaching you a quick lesson, instead of feeling overwhelmed with content that is written in a more formal tone. Whether it’s a blog post, a video tutorial for my Youtube channel, or one of my weekly email newsletters, I try to make my content fun and accessible!
I can tell from the stats on my website that people are more likely to read through the full article, click over to the next video, or stay on my email newsletter list for a longggg time compared to industry averages. I get a lot of feedback from my audience and clients that it was my personal touch that made them follow along and ultimately do business with me, so I love knowing that my efforts are paying off!”'Adding a human element to my website allows me to stand out in my industry' - Charlotte O'HaraClick To Tweet
Jaimie Myers, Social Media Strategist, JaimieMyers.com
“I believe the most important element to a successful website is the simplicity and roadmap. When you really think about what you want your website visitor to do, you can lead them through your website seamlessly, allowing them to opt-in when you want them to, read when you want them to, or subscribe to your social media channels. Make it really, really obvious what you want people to do on your website! The easier, the better!”
Summer Tannhauser, Founder, SummerTannhauser.com
“One of the main goal’s of my website is to grow my email list. I know that the large majority of new people that land on my website will not be back in the future unless I’m able to continue to communicate with them through email. So I’m always looking for ways to maximize opportunities to include the different freebies and content updates that I have to offer my audience. I like to do this through a combination of design strategies for including opt-ins in different formats throughout the website, depending on the specific page and what works best for each one.”
Lizzie Davey, Founder, Wanderful World
“For me it always has been and always will be my blog! This is where most of my readers and potential clients land, so it’s the first impression they get of me and my site. As a writer, being able to express myself in the way I want my business to be viewed has been invaluable, and I’ve had tons of comments from eager clients and readers who have said it was my blog that completely sold them on hiring me/following me. I’ve spent a long time coming up with content strategies for my sites that work, but I’m happy to have invested so much time and effort into it because it has really been the most important part of my website.”'It was my blog content that completely sold clients on hiring me' - Lizzie DaveyClick To Tweet
Neil Sheth, Founder, Your Brand Found
“The website element that works best for me is definitely my blog. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean posting any old type of content, nor does it mean to encourage quantity of content. Instead, quality posts that are deeply descriptive and insightful are the name of the game, especially in the digital marketing space.
Meghan Maydel, Founder, MeghanMaydel.com
“COPY COPY COPY! My website is successful (aka does its job) because of my copy—and the design—resonates with my ideal client. Every time I get on a discovery call with a client, they mention how the copy kept them laughing, engaged and feeling like I was inside their head—which, you know, makes the sales process *way* easier. 😉 This is because I don’t talk to them in the same way everyone else in the industry is coming at them. I want them to relax, have a good time, and feel like we could totally go get drinks together. If we wouldn’t have a great time going to get drinks together, I don’t wanna work with you, and my copy is the easiest way for me to connect/weed out those who totally wouldn’t be a good fit.”
Maggie Giele, Digital Strategist, MaggieGiele.com
“Getting much more personal with my branding and website was a game-changer. It was a scary shift to put myself out there so much, but paid off! I used to have a generic desktop stock photo and some bland copy, and I wasn’t getting any inquiries via my website. Now, my header image is me very much in my element. My glasses, hair down, sitting on a table and reading my favorite fantasy book, The Hobbit. The language there is strong – “fiercely dedicated entrepreneurs” and my services, seen on the menu bar, are “Slay Your Strategy” and “Battle Plan”. Images and copy that reflect my personality have made the biggest impact on my website. Sure, there are some people who will be turned off by this – and frankly, we probably wouldn’t have been a good fit anyway!”'Getting much more personal with my branding and website was a game-changer.' - Maggie GieleClick To Tweet
Krista Rae, Web Developer, KristaRae.co
“Growing a successful website is something a lot of people make sound easy and cookie-cutter, but that’s about as far from the truth as you can get. The success of each website is totally different and dependent on the goals of the creator.
Rachel Ritlop, Blogger, The Confused Millennial
“The one thing I attribute a lot of my websites success to is the content being so relatable. It’s the feedback I get all the time from readers and the thing I think that sets me apart from a lot of the other millennial blogs.”'I attribute a lot of my websites success to the content being so relatable.' - Rachel RitlopClick To Tweet
Shaina Longstreet, Owner, Your Ampersand Studio
“I would have to say that consistency in branding and intentional branded photos (my website photoshoot was one of my favorite parts of creating my brand!) is what makes my website successful and helps my brand be recognizable on all platforms. My brand is really friendly, positive and focused on connection and how that impacts the work we do in the world. I feel like my color story, the images on my website and my copy communicate that clearly. When your branding voice is strong it either attracts or repels people, and that’s the point! I help all my clients get really clear on what their brand voice is and help them to stay consistent on all their platforms. That leads to measurable success in many other areas.”
Did you notice the common thread in their answers?
Most of them have one main thing in common….connection.
Most of these answers have to do with understanding and connecting with their target audience, whether it’s through brand personality, graphics, creating helpful content, getting specific on which problem areas you help your people solve, etc.
Regardless of the way these experts go about it, they all circled around the same thing.
They all got to know their audience, and they created a website and a journey that helps them CONNECT with their website visitors in their own way, that ties together their expertise and their personality.
Now take a look at your own website. How are you connecting with your visitors?