Building and maintaining a website these days can be tough business. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, many of the issues faced for having a successful website are the same. With solid preparation, like these top 10 proven website essentials, getting started and staying online is made easier.

The 10 website essentials have below been pulled together by combing over 16 years of online content publishing and website basics research. More importantly, these essentials are ordered by frequency of consensus by fellow web content management agencies and consultants.

Through this simplified and consolidated knowledge, you can be sure that these website essentials offer the most solid foundation possible for your website.

Content

There’s a current day meme of “content is king” that states without quality, direct and insight content, your audience will leave your site and search engines won’t build up results with your website in them. Give readers and search engines something worthwhile to read.

Spend time writing, it’s worth it. A couple of recently read research articles have reported that a single quality web page of content is worth $ 7,000 over its lifetime. So, research and write for a few hours to earn $ 2,333 an hour. That’s time well spent.

Targeted content can be written using the AIDA style: Attention, Interest, Detail and Action.

Attention

Catch the reader’s eye. Bright, shiny things…

Interest

You’ve got the readers eyeball on target now, so give them a reason to read more. Bait the reader…

Detail

Give the reader some useful information. Convince them that you’re the professional that can solve their problem. Hook the reader…

Action

Typically called a call to action, this is usually a form requesting the readers email in trade for a white paper or sample of some kind. Essentially, you’re turning the reader into a sales lead. Reel the reader in…

Interaction

Besides content, engaging your readers through videos, images, blogging, events, social networking, newsletters, comments and more gives reasons for them to return.

Contact Information

Make your underlying business address, phone number and email addresses readily accessible for your site visitors. Don’t hide this information, else you’ll stand a good chance to make visitors feel insecure.

Design

If you’re going to have a look beyond black text on white background, hire a professional. They’ll be able to create a look and feel and layout that’ll work with your branding and give a positive, unique look.

There’s nothing worse than dated layouts, typography and graphics that look like Word Art was used.

Accessibility

On two fronts, not all visitors “see” and use content presentation that makes sense. If you’re going to use images or videos, be sure that there are textual alternatives for the blind. Next, if you’re going to make a data chart, does that information presented actually convey what you want it to?

Maintenance

Behind the scenes, the website should be easy to update for templates, pages and content. Dynamic websites based upon web content management systems like TYPO3 and WordPress are excellent tools for enabling authors and editors to create and edit pages and content anytime they can open an Internet browser.

If your authors and editors can’t easily maintain the website, content will go stall and visitors will stop coming as they’re bored and think you don’t care anymore.

SEO

Search engine optimization, SEO, generally means optimizing page title, META keyword & description, URLs and link text found in your website for improved placement in search engine results.

This SEO work plus quality content play key parts in getting your website found by visitors don’t know you’re offering exactly what they need. These visitors will only find you through search engine results.

Usability

Don’t make your website visitors work to get around your website. When laying out the site, think about navigation and information architecture. A sitemap can help with the website overview, but if you’ve got 10,000 pages, a sitemap might be overwhelming when information architecture hasn’t been thought through.

Grammar and Spelling

Critically check your grammar and spelling even after spell check has ran. Read your content aloud and make sure what you wrote is really what you want to say. Even better, save what you’ve done and come back to it an hour later and then check again before publishing.

Sample and Trials

An easy way to increase sales and drive traffic to your website is to offer working product samples and no-cost, time-limited trials.

  • Thank you Eric for the compliments. I was worried about the simplicity. I figured the points were more to get people to think and then research further.

  • Michael

    Really useful blog – I enjoyed reading it.

    Just one thing – I’m afraid I’ve spotted a grammatical error in the, sorry, the ‘Grammar and Spelling’ section:

    >> Critically check your grammar and spelling even after spell check is ran

    … should probably read:

    >> Critically check your grammar and spelling even after the spell check is run has run

    Paul Cutcliffe

    • Paul,

      Thank you for the correction. That’s a dandy alright and now it and several other minor quirks are fixed.

      Michael