Paweł Durczok

5 Useful Things to Have on a Website

Contrary to the “popular” opinion, designing and building an effective website is not an easy task. It greatly depends on the client’s needs, target audience, the required performance and its purpose.

There are, however, certain elements and solutions that are nearly universally useless and there are some that are almost always beneficial, regardless of the website’s type or its purpose.

I’ve used the words “nearly” and “almost” for a reason, as there is an exception to every rule, but more about it later. Also, this article mainly pertains to commercial websites, as the main concern is how well a website will generate potential clients and help increase revenue. Let’s start with the useful.

1. Newsletter signup form

I imagine this one almost seems like a travesty. We all hate newsletters right? Well, marketing doesn’t. It might seem inconceivable, but newsletter are still a fairly effective way to increase traffic, keep users engaged and in turn positively affect revenue. Granted, your newsletters cannot be too frequent and too obnoxious in content and size. But to even consider using newsletters as a marketing tool you’ll need a sign up for of course. Preferably a dedicated, exposed one with a tick box in the contact form as an option (but not the main way to subscribe).

(Below, a well designed newsletter form as seen on From Up North - http://www.fromupnorth.com/)

2. Call To Action (CTA) elements and inline content links

When people think about navigation on a website they usually think about menus. But content navigation can be just as effective and at times even more so than your classic menu bar or side panel.

While a menu is a necessity on a website it is for the most part a collection of links without much context. Providing your audience with means of alternative navigation within a context improves user flows and positive engagement. A panel with a CTA text and button at the end of the “About” main body text leading to the products page. A visible link to the contact page inside the product description. Elements like that will be - for the most part - more effective than relying only on the main menu to guide your users throughout your website.

(A pair of CTA buttons on https://stripe.com/)

3. Google analytics / Facebook pixel

Knowledge is a power and both Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel provide a bit more of that power. While both do basically the same thing their purpose is different. While analytics provide details about your user base on a more technical level - their location, the devices they use for browsing your site, which pages have the biggest attachment rate and so on, the Pixel provides more socially relevant data so you can use that for better targeting of your ads, creating design tweaks to better fit your audience, or create promos for a specific groups of your users.

Even if you don’t actively promote your site or products, all the knowledge gained through those two tools is useful, if not today, then later on.

4. Contact form

While it might seem like a no-brainer, there are many businesses which decided not to include a contact form on their websites, often forgoing the contact page entirely, providing contact details in the footer or on the about page.

However, a contact form is very useful for a few reasons. First of all, it’s convenient for the user - they don’t need to switch to a different app or a different browser window to send you an email. Second of all, by proving a few extra fields in the form you get information about the user that can improve your response.

When the a user successfully submits a form you can also redirect them through a thank you page or a location of your choice - either a page on your website or your social media profiles.

(A partly pre-populated contact form on http://studiolomo.pl)

5. Mobile browsing solutions

That goes without saying that in this day and age a website which is not optimised for various mobile devices is a site that cannot fulfill its potential. But there are more things to consider when designing and building a website that needs to scale to many different screens. Are images optimised for cellular data transfer limitations? Is navigation touch screen friendly? Does effects and animations impact performance on weaker devices?

It’s also worth pointing out that Google’s algorithms take into account whether or not a website is mobile friendly and it does affect the SEO.

There are, of course, many other useful elements and solutions that should be present on a website, but those 5 above are often ommited. It's worth considering including them on your next redesgin or making sure they are present on your very first website right off the bat.