You don’t need to be an expert web-designer or coder to build a website in 2020. All you need is an understanding of the various components that make up a site.
In the past, the daunting technical components may have deterred you from launching your own site. But nowadays, thanks to website hosting servers, the average person with no computing background can create a professional website.
Still, it can be daunting if you’re entirely new to the world of website development. Words like headers, footers, and sidebars can seem like a different language if you’ve never designed a site before. All of that happens before we even get into the art of engaging website customers or converting visitors into customers.
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the parts of a website essential for its success. Then, we’ll take it a step further and discuss how you can optimize your website to increase your conversions. Let’s jump into it!
How to Get Started
So you’ve decided you need your site. There are a variety of reasons why you might come to this conclusion. Maybe you’re starting your own business, or you’ve been blogging for a while and want a site crafted to your unique voice and vision.
Whatever your reason for launching your site, your intentions must be clear. Websites lose a lot of quality—and customers—due to vague design.
Consider what it is you’re trying to achieve with your site. Are you trying to sell products? Do you want to increase your audience? Are you promoting a subscription service? All of these require very different approaches to achieve the best results.
Before we get into the specific parts of a website, let’s talk about the three essential items you’ll need to get started.
1. A Domain Name
Put simply, your domain name will be the name of your website. It’s what people will type into the address bar to find your site. When deciding upon your domain name, you should keep two key factors in mind:
- Is it easy to remember?
- Does it summarize my site well?
If you’re a business, your domain name could be the same as your brand. This approach is popular because it’s simple and ties your site in with your business.
Try to stay away from excessive names. The fewer words, the better. If you can make your domain name a single word, then you’re onto a winner.
2. A Website Host
The host is what makes it possible for you to connect to the wider web. Web hosts are businesses or organizations that make it possible for users to discover your site via the internet. Vast servers store websites and make them accessible to people around the world.
You can usually sign up for a website host just using your email. Web hosting comes with a monthly fee, which you can think of as rent for the server space your site is occupying.
Prices vary and depend on the scale of the website. A small blog with 50 visitors will require a basic plan with lower fees between $3 to $10 per month, but a massive eCommerce site will call for a more robust plan with higher monthly costs.
Some web hosts offer the first year free, which is ideal for those new to owning a site. The first year gives you time to decide if the hosting plan is appropriate for the size of your business and the amount of traffic your website generates.
3. A Website Service
When paired with a web host, a web service is how your site reaches your audience. These services are more popular than ever, thanks to robust advertisement programs from platforms such as WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. These powerful online servers help you build and host your site.
The server you opt for comes down to personal preference and which site you think best suits your needs. Consider practicality, affordability, and necessity when deciding on your server.
These are the first three steps to build your site’s foundation. Next, we’re going to lead you through the specific components essential to nearly any website. Some are a necessity, and others are just advisory. How you implement them is up to you!
Essential Parts of a Website
The design of a website depends on its goal. Some websites aim to sell, and some seek to inform. Whatever it is your site aspires to achieve, your web design must reflect your intention. Check out our article on 10 Things DIY Website Builders Get Wrong!
While every website is unique, some features are essential to any site. You can use these features as building blocks.
Home pages, contact pages, site navigation—the list of features is extensive. Knowing which information you need to include will ensure you don’t create a site that feels incomplete, while also preventing you from stuffing your website with information it doesn’t need.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common parts of a website so that you can tick them off when you come to create your site. Remember, you might not need every single one of these, but it’s worth giving all of them some consideration!
Arguably the most critical part of any website is its homepage. It’s the first page your visitors are going to land on, so it’s crucial to get the first impression perfect.
When designing your homepage, make sure it:
- Gives a clear representation of who you are and what you offer
- Affirms to visitors that they’re on the right site
- Guides visitors to where they need to be
A common mistake that novice designers make is stacking excessive amounts of information on the homepage. This approach can be disastrous as it can confuse visitors.
The most effective homepages have a simple, clean layout that makes it easy for visitors to access the information they need.
The “About” page is where you want to explain who you are or what your service offers.
Many companies make the mistake of including this information on the homepage. While you should provide some introductory details on your homepage, your about page is where you want to elaborate on this information.
Explain who you are, what you do, and why your services/products are the best choices for potential customers.
If your entire site is a blog, then this point is slightly redundant. However, if you run a business, a blog page can be a fantastic way of engaging website customers.
If you frequently post about topics related to your industry, it tells your audience that you have dedicated your business to further your industry. It’s also a great way to show off some expertise and increase your pool of potential customers.
Your services page is a centralized location where you’ll list all of the services you offer. This page is a critical opportunity for conversion. After all, this page is likely the final step a customer will make before committing to you.
Make sure you take advantage of that by not only including what you do but why it’s so beneficial for potential clients.
Less a page of its own and more an additional factor, a navigation bar or menu is an essential part of any site.
You need to make sure your site is easy to navigate. Otherwise, potential customers are going to give up and leave.
One of the more popular versions of this is the classic navigation bar in the header. You also can include the navigation map at the bottom of the homepage. There are many ways you can get creative with your design.
Why Web Design Matters
Whether you’re running an independent blog or a business, your site is the face of your brand. It’s what the majority of your audience will see first when they discover your brand. First impressions matter, but this goes tenfold when it comes to converting visitors into customers.
If your site is disorganized and overloaded with pop-ups, your site visitors will give up and leave. Likewise, if your website is barren and devoid of critical details, a person might assume your services are similarly lacking.
The key is to provide a balance between information and aesthetics. No site benefits from ceaseless attention-grabbing animations. However, walls of text aren’t desirable either.
Try to be impartial when designing your site. If you were to arrive at it as an objective visitor, how would it make you respond? Would you want to engage or click away? Be brutally honest with yourself.
Some of the essential attributes of a successful website include:
- Clean and clear design: It doesn’t have to be obnoxious to grab a visitor’s attention. Sometimes, less is more!
- Easy navigation: If the visitors to your site can’t find their way around, they’re likely to give up entirely. Don’t turn your website into a labyrinth.
- Clear branding: Your site is the face of your business, so make sure you’re promoting it! No matter the type of site, whether a blog or an eCommerce platform, a strong identity encourages engagement.
- Modern styling: Pay attention to web design trends. You don’t have to be an expert coder (far from it), but be aware of how web design as evolved in recent years. An outdated site gives an impression of laziness to visitors, which isn’t a quality you want to promote.
You should also keep in mind how your site is going to look across different platforms. Many site designers fall into the trap of only designing for desktop. However, numerous people now spend most of their time browsing the internet on their phones. Your site needs to have the versatility to handle multiple devices.
Fortunately, many of the popular site servers allow you to preview your designs on desktop, tablet, or phone. Make sure you’re utilizing these features when adding new pages to your site. This way, you know that whatever device a visitor uses to view your site, they’re getting the best representation.
How Web Design Can Transform Your Conversion
Professional looking web design and conversion go hand in hand. If you want to master conversion, pay extra attention to the attributes of a high-conversion site and how you can apply them to your brand.
Conversion is the process of converting visitors into customers. If you have 100 visitors hitting your site, but none of them subscribe or purchase, then you have an abysmal conversion rate. However, don’t start aiming for 100/100 visitors to become customers. It isn’t possible, and you’re likely just going to grow frustrated.
Your actual goal should be much, much lower. Some of the most successful sites only have a conversion rate of around 10%. This rate may sound small, but if 10 out of every 100 visitors become customers, you’re earning a nice bit of revenue.
Calculating your conversion rate is easy. Simply divide the number of purchases or subscriptions by the number of visitors. If you want to find your conversion percentage, just multiply your conversion rate by 100.
Read our Basic Guide to Increasing Site Traffic for some simple tips!
Remember, the conversion isn’t solely about specific purchases. A conversion can be a customer contacting your business for further information, providing their email address for subscription, or downloading site material. It all counts and gives you a framework to measure how successful your site design is at engaging website customers.
Optimizing Your Website Design for Conversion
Conversion rate optimization is big business, so countless brands are opening up to its potential. There are hundreds of tactics that can boost your conversion percentage. Deciding on which ones you want to use depends entirely on your goals.
An integral factor of conversion rate optimization is cohesion. You want your site and all its components to flow as smoothly as possible. Too many tactics can become clunky and mismanaged. Too few can result in an ineffective strategy.
Here are just some of the numerous ways you can maximize conversion on your site:
- Active language: Use terms throughout your site copy that encourage visitors to take decisive action. Successful calls to action include ‘Subscribe now,’ ‘Contact us today,’ ‘Don’t miss out.’ It’s surprising how effective such small prompts can be.
- Compelling headline: How does the top of your site look? If it isn’t grabbing attention, it isn’t working. Make sure your headline sells your service/brand
- Mixed media: The use of imagery is a must in 2020. Text alone won’t cut it. If you want to take it a step further, consider adding animation or video.
- Subscriber counts: People love to feel a part of something. This consumer psychology goes for commerce, too. If you have a live counter of how many people are engaging with your brand (via subscriptions, purchases, or a follower count), then it will act as a testimony and encourage others to join, too.
There are hundreds of ways you can optimize your conversion rate. A quick web search will provide you with extensive lists of successful tactics. Some are subtler than others, so feel free to stack up on different styles. Just remember, you don’t want to overload your site.
To gauge the effectiveness of any component on your site and its conversion capacity, you also want to run A/B tests. With A/B tests, you take the original (A) and create a variant (B). You can run both versions of this element and see which one generates higher conversions. Common items for A/B tests that you can implement easily include the color of a CTA button, or the placement of an email subscription text box.
Now You’re Ready to Launch Your Site!
You have the three foundation elements down, you know which integral parts are necessary for your site, and you know how to optimize the parts of a website for maximum conversion. Whether you’re launching a business or a blogging site, just make sure your site’s intentions are clear, and your pages feel cohesive. Armed with that, you’re ready for success!