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At Web Trails we’re passionate about helping clients build professional, effective websites. Over the years we have put a lot of thought into what makes the perfect website. Here are 10 key factors we consider essential.

1. Excellent website design

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Your website will be the first time most of your clients “meet” you. An eye-catching, original design reassures visitors and represents a huge factor in their decision to get in touch.

2. Provide information in easy-to-read chunks

Visitors will not read your website. They’ll scan it. Information about products and services must be clear and concise. Use headings, bullet points and colour to make key points jump out. Avoid lengthy descriptive paragraphs. They won’t be read.

4. Use images and photos

Good quality images and pictures do so much to liven up a page and make it more engaging. They also re-assure visitors. Good photos – good product. You don’t have to be David Bailey or even take your own pictures, have a look at some of the excellent image libraries out there like iStock and Shutterstock

5. Make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for

Remember it is not just computer literate youngsters with pin-sharp vision who want to buy your services. Make navigation clear and obvious and make the font big enough to be read by everyone.

6. Make it easy for visitors to find you and contact you

Think about how you want visitors to contact you and tell them. If you want them to call, put your phone number in big numbers in a prominent position. If you want them to email you, add an easy-to-complete web form. A quality location map and prominent opening times are essential if you want visitors to come to your office or showroom. Don’t make them search or work to hard.

7. Generate leads

Use your website to do your work for you. Let it generate leads with opportunity for visitors to sign up for newsletters, special offers and sample products in exchange for their name and email address.

8. Instantly update-able website

Your website must be up-to-date and be flexible enough to take advantage of market opportunities. You (not your web developer) must be able edit and update it.

9. A bit of movement (but not too much)

Done well this makes your website look professional and really catches the attention of

visitors. Think about putting a slide show with key products and information on your home page.

10. Track your visitors

Website provide a wealth of marketing data. Find out how many visitors you are getting, which are you most popular pages, how many times a product needs to be seen on the website before it’s sold, etc. This sort of marketing information is gold dust. It will not only inform the next steps for your website but also the marketing of your business as a whole.

… and one for luck:

11. Search engine rankings

Remember search engines rank pages not websites. So make sure every each page is packed with useful information, clearly structured and laid out, and contains the words visitors tap into Google to find you. Getting to the top of the rankings is a big subject but these basics will get you off to a good start.