We can't expect business owners to know how to build a sleek, functional website in this day and age. Since most owners hire a web designer to take care of the jargon-laden process, it can be a little tricky when they want your opinion about one aspect. Instead of making your designer explain everything to you, it's helpful to know some of the basics of website components to make competent choices.
Let's break down the main components of a website in layman's terms to help you stay on top of your business's web development.
The Main Components of a Website
There are five primary components of any good website, regardless of how many pages it has. These components allow your website to grow and scale efficiently. By addressing all of them comprehensively beforehand, you can ensure that your website will run into fewer issues down the line as you add more and more pages. This means that your company can avoid as much downtime and the associated loss of revenue as possible.
The layout or structure of the website refers to your website's hierarchy. This is where you decide which page is the landing page and which pages you can directly access from there. You might have heard the term sitemap before, and it functions like a normal map, except it shows how you progress through your website from shallow pages (aka your home page) to deeper pages, like a blog post.
Sitemaps are created for designers and web crawlers, not customers, so you won't usually have to worry about being able to read them yourself. However, when your website is added to a search engine like Google, web crawlers will need to be able to maneuver throughout your website efficiently and record the information, so a sitemap simplifies their journey and helps you rank higher on search results pages.
Wireframes don't hold the elements once the web page has been created, though; they're more of a sketch or outline for web designers to work with. The great thing about wireframes is that they're easily copied, so all someone needs to do pop in the elements specific to that page, and you're ready to go.
Considering the ease of many platforms for building your own website, plenty of web developers skip creating wireframes altogether and go straight into the building part since there are many templates to choose from.
Your content is what your users are there to see. Text, pictures, videos, downloadable files, these all count as your content. Content is deeply intertwined with your design since the design is what makes the content appealing, but at the end of the day, you'll need to provide your users with rich, informative content that gives them the answers they need.
One of the most crucial types of content is the call-to-action. A good call-to-action gives the reader direction about how to proceed through your conversion funnel from where they are and gives them some incentive to do so.
For example, if you have a blog post that refers to a product you sell, it's best to use a call-to-action letting users know that you can offer them that product and how to find it.
In addition to having an 'About Us' page, most businesses have a dedicated section of their website with blog posts. These can come in different forms like FAQ pages, tutorial videos, podcast downloads, or normal posts with text or pictures. The purpose of blogs is to draw more organic traffic from search engines by ranking high for specific keywords or phrases.
Depending on the search terms used, people may only find your company's home page when they look up your brand name. With a blog, they're more likely to discover your website through a blog post that addresses their search terms.
Once they've seen the post, they'll know about your website and may click over to browse for products or services you offer.
This refers to how you organize the content on your page. Is the picture above or below your text? Where did you place the navigation bar? Along the side or at the top? The design dictates how users feel viewing your web page. The font used, the colors employed, and similar aspects all make up the design component.
Web design is tricky because it's challenging to define what is right and wrong. It's very subjective, and some things will appeal to some people more than others.
This is the part of your website the reader interacts with, such as buttons and boxes for inputting information or downloading files. Anything where the user must physically click on something counts as part of the function of the website. Obviously, your website is going to have multiple functionalities since users will need to navigate through pages, enter their information, and make purchases, but they all count as the function.
Your web developer will need tools that allow them to implement the different functions on your website to make sure users can interact the way you want them to. For example, if you want them to see a tutorial video you made and uploaded to your brand's YouTube channel, you will need to embed a YouTube video player into your website.
This means that you'll have to see which functions are available in the platform you select for website creation. While platforms can't offer everything, they can have numerous integrations or plugins that make it easy to customize your website and hit all of the important functions.
Depending on how large your website is, this may not seem like an important component, but it absolutely is if you plan to continue adding fresh content on a regular basis.
With a comprehensive web site-wide search, your users will always be able to find exactly what they are looking for. Good search boxes should be natural language processors so that customers can ask questions however they want and still receive relevant results.
Additionally, they will need to be tolerant of mistakes and typos since most people type hurriedly when they're looking for something. You can also add suggestions for the correct spelling or brand name since they may have only heard it and not seen how it is spelled.
Companies recognize the need to provide excellent customer service and are accomplishing that goal through a variety of contact channels. At their most basic, you'll want a web page with the function of automatically sending your customer support a message. There, users will see a form where they can enter their information and write a quick message or select a drop-down option so that a representative can try to fix the problem.
Additionally, some websites have added a chat function where customers can speak to a chatbot or directly to a customer service representative immediately about their issue. This chat likely pops up in one corner of the website for all of your pages, offering to help customers find or fix whatever they need. Chats don't have to contact customer support, though. Your website may also have a chat function for users to speak to other users.
Reviews are an essential part of advertising and getting customer feedback after trying your products or services. By allowing customers to leave reviews, you gain valuable insights about which features they're using and it can be enticing for new potential customers if they see that your product has so many positive reviews. You will need a short form for users to fill out for products after they have purchased them.
While programming languages and methodologies may have changed over the years, the main components of a website remain the same. When you have a site with comprehensive content styled pleasingly with all of the functionalities that your customers need to support your business, you're well on your way to establishing a great online presence for your company.
Contact us to learn more about ensuring that your website is well-designed and informative for your users.