World class websites, like the Apple website, give their visitors a great user experience (UX), once lured through the doorway visitors are so enthralled by what they find they don't want to leave, and while their inside they can be persuaded to buy something.
Only 28% of all websites work efficiently, many look good but don't have the 'wow factor' of a World Class website. By following this guide you can join Apple and the other World Class websites, increase traffic and revenue.
You'll find your website becomes more Google friendly and your web pages will rank higher in the SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages)
You can make your website just as good as Apples for a fraction of they've spent (how about for free?).
Browse through the apple website then come back to this page and discover what makes it a world-class website and how you can apply those features to yours.
Lets Get Started On Your World Class Website
1. Get a WordPress Website
This is the free content management system (CMS) that powers 35% of the entire internet, it is open source (which means it will always be free) software designed to create a level playing field.
Anyone can use it to build any website they want as long as they have a domain name and somewhere to host it.
This means you can build and publish a world-class website, like the Apple one, for the cost of a domain name and hosting plan. A WordPress managed hosting plan from us costs £6.99 a month.
WordPress websites are totally unrestricted, you own your website, and have total control over it. Some of the worlds biggest companies use it for their websites, Disney, Microsoft , Bloomberg, Vogue, CNN even the White House use it.
2. A Responsive Framework
World Class Websites have to be accessible on all platforms, make sure your WordPress theme is optimised for mobile phones & tablets as most browsing is now done using mobile devices.
If your websites not responsive it won't work properly on a mobile, WordPress have hundreds of free responsive themes to choose from.
Mobile First Indexing: Google use your mobile website to rank you, if doesn't work properly your rankings will suffer.
Most modern free responsive themes will be automatically optimised for Mobile First Indexing.
Use this free Google Mobile friendly test tool to check if your website is responsive, if it not get it sorted ASAP by choosing a new theme.
Your Website has to look good and work properly on all devices
3. Enable HTTPS protocol for your website:-
HTTPS is vital, any page on your website that is non-HTTPS be labeled as “Not secure” by Google Chrome, Firefox and other browsers.
They will declare the site unsafe and will stop visitors from accessing your website.
4. Have Good UX Design Elements
You need be able to edit your website and be able to see the results as if it were live.
While doing this you need to have a page published in place of your website telling people that your website is under construction and going to be published soon.
We recommend using the free under construction plugin which will do this for you, it is very easy to use.
Install it follow the instructions and select the screen you want the public to see, switch the 'under construction' button to on and your ready to start editing your website.
OK lets get building.
If you already have a website you need to edit in the way described in the following sections.
If this is a fresh build you may want to read our post How to Create a Website first.
Garish Colors & Noise are big turn offs
A well thought out layout:-
All world class websites have one design feature in common, they are fresh, crisp and uncluttered with intelligent use of white space.
Use harmonious soft color palettes with no garish colors, with a contrasting colour to make your 'call to action' button stand out.
Too much visual clutter overloads the senses and rather than spend time exploring your website your visitors will bounce (leave without entering your website).
No loud noise:-
Unless you have a signature video on your landing page do not load automatic music or video play.
Let your visitor decide if they want to listen to or watch media. No one likes being shouted at, when your website loads and starts generating noise that is what you are doing, shouting at people.
World Class Websites don't carry many adverts, they promote their own products, but for the small business and blogs paid advertising is a good source of revenue but it has to done carefully.
Preferably none on your landing or home page, then just one per page, a banner or sidebar sky scraper may be more effective than a simple box ad. 100% of visitors will read an advert if it's the only one on the page, only 76% will read it if there are multiple ads on the page.
If you must use more than one you can drop a box in among the content, or use a content appropriate inline ad.
Be carefull with Googles Adsense ads, they need to be seen as an addition to the page not intruding into it. Adsense Autoads can cause problems as they can randomly appear anywhere on the page.
Or any elements that slide in which obscure the content. Google will penalize your website if this happens on mobiles.
For desk tops, if you have a slide in or pop up call to action box or form, time them to come in after about 20 seconds, your visitor will be engaged with your content and is more likely to pay attention and respond.
Instant pop-ups are annoying, why work to get someone to land on your page then obscure the content with an instant page wide pop-up?
Even World class websites can have loading issues. Google ranks you on speed, the aim is for every page to load in under 2 seconds, for every second people have to wait after that they will navigate away (53% after 3 seconds).
Check both desktop and mobile loading times.
5. Clean Up Your Website Navigation
Do not have too many navigation buttons, if you have lots of pages load them into categories so when someone hovers over the headings they see a drop down menu, or put the categories in a sidebar. (See how apple put them in the footer sidebar)
Keep menus on the same place on every page.
Visitors need to know where they are going, your navigation labels need to be concise and accurate.
Keep category headings visually divided from subcategories use bold fonts, indents, buttons etc..
If your website has a search feature (it should) make sure it works, can compensate for misspellings and whatever is typed in it will never give a page or product not found.
If what is typed in does not exist a list of related items or pages should be shown.
404 Page not found:-
Use a stylized 404 page as a marketing tool to guide visitors back into the site by offering money off vouchers or site specific content encouraging them to navigate to pages / items that do exist.
Make sure every image has an ALT text. The alt attribute provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it, or if the user uses a screen reader.
You need visitors to see what the image is about is even if the image does not appear.
Make links workable:-
If it is a navigation feature make it a clickable link, if the cursor changes to indicate a link and it doesn't do something when clicked your visitor will think something is broken.
6. Making Great Content
Aim for short Paragraphs & readable text. If visitors cannot understand what you are saying they will leave.
Everything should be written in plain English (assuming it's an English language site) minimise the waffle and leave out the cooperate and technical jargon.
Have a look at these extracts from some web development websites landing and about me pages, they forget they are talking to laypeople not their own co-workers.
"Our bold design style and use of ultra-clean, standards-based markup code"
"Whatever the solution, we can help in terms of ideation, rapid digital product development and building dynamic teams and agile workflows."
This may mean something to industry professionals, but what about the business owner who is looking for someone to do his SEO?
Most people won't understand and don't care what this jargon means and don't have the time to find out, they want their website to work well, attract visitors and convert them into customers.
They want it done and any explanations given in language they can understand, if your website cannot do that they will find one that will.
The same applies to visitors to your website, if they cannot understand what you are saying they will leave, you have to provide suitable content to all your visitors not just a select few.
A basic catch-all introduction with links leading to a deeper analysis for industry professionals would solve this.
Fresh, unique and relevant:-
Regularly published content that enhances your website and has information your visitors want to see.
Google's spiders look for fresh content and can spot plagiarized or 'spun' (other websites content slightly rewritten to appear new) content and will penalize websites which do this.
Containing advice, tips, and industry pertinent information, throw in a few amusing asides.
If someone reads an amusing story or good information they like to share it so include social media share buttons. Blogs are also a great way to keep adding the fresh content Google looks for.
Don't Oversell :-
Content should inform your visitors at every stage of the purchasing funnel, you need to gently lead them on their journey.
Oversell seems like begging and makes you look desperate, if you're desperate to sell then it triggers alarms in your prospective customers.
To see how easy it is to lose a sale have a look at this Wikipedia article on the online purchasing process digital marketers call the Conversion funnel.
Everybody loves free stuff so give them something downloadable, e-books, guides, reports or money off vouchers, discounts for referrals etc... These increase your websites UX at minimum cost.
7. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Search Engine Optimisation is how you 'tune' your website in line with the rules Google have for making what they say is a good website.
The more compliant it is with their rules the higher ranking (page authority) they give it, and the higher up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) it will be when someone enters a search term for what your offering on your website.
It's advisable to do what Google say as over 90% of all searches are through Google.
Good SEO will get you higher page rankings on SERPS
Read our articles:-
Black Hat SEO:-
Stay away from any SEO tactics Google disapprove of, these tactics are known at Black Hat SEO using them will get you penalised,
Penalties include; black listing, dropping your website down the page listings and killing your website by removing it from the listings.
Do not stuff your content with keywords (words you want people to look for so your site lists in the SERPs).
Googles web crawlers look for naturally written content relative to your website and will penalize the website if too many keywords are found on one page.
See our Article on Keyword Planning to see how to find and use keywords on your website.
Following the UX tips in sections 4, 5 and 6 and the methods in our articles is called organic or natural SEO.
These are steps taken to get your website listed as high as possible th in the SERPs without using paid for advertising, or Pay Per Click (PPC) that's paying to appear when someone enters a keyword relevent to what you are offering on your website.
World class websites have a single brand identity and colour scheme that crosses all channels.
The website, social media platforms, advertising and any non digital media such as magazine or newspaper advertising, have to be instantly recognisable as being part of the same business.
Make sure that everything works together smoothly, if your visitor skips to your Facebook or Twitter pages you don't want to lose them.
9. Final Checks.
Revisit your websites design
Is it clean, fresh and uncluttered?
If your landing page has a signature video, fine if not switch off automatically loading media
Remove unnecessary over-bloated pages, if a page is too long trim it and use the excess as a blog post.
Remove excessive advertising only include one or two that are relevant to your content or industry.
Check all your links work:-
Make sure all your pages, especially the ones deep in your site (without links on nav bars or menus), are internally linked to from other pages.
Make sure paid ads have 'no follow links', see our Quick Guide to Internal Linking for how to easily clean up your linking structure.
Check each pages load speed:-
Use Googles Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix which will give load speeds for both mobile devices and desktop, identify faults and tell you how to fix them. Your maximum page load speed should be 2 seconds.
Make sure all your images are as small as they can be without losing definition and are optimized, there are plenty of free WordPress plug-ins which do this for you.
They must have the ALT tags filled in, this is the description which appears if the image does not load.
Googles spiders will not read more than 16 words so make this the max and include one keyword.
Make keywords relevant:-
They must match your content. Where possible use 'long tailed keywords' so people looking for what you provide have more chance of finding you and give you a better chance of appearing on page one of SERPs.
See our article on Keyword Planning to see how to use long tailed keywords.
Have a Facebook page and Twitter account (Linked in, Instagram and more if you can service them) with social media follow and share icons on all pages.
Check Googles Webmaster Guidelines from time to time to keep up with what Google wants (and doesn't want) from websites, the more you comply with their guidelines the better your chances of ranking well in the SERPs
10 Launch Your World Class Website
When you've double checked all the prelaunch steps in section 9 you are ready to go so switch the 'under construction' button to off and your website is now live.
Look at your website on as many devices as possible, different mobiles, tablets laptops and PCs, different sized screens and with as many browsers as possible.
Some websites may look different on Safari or Opera than on chrome or Firefox. You want to see no matter which device, browser or size screen, a brilliant website.
Check the menus show up and the links work.
Now sit back and treat yourself to your favourite beverage, you've earned it.
To keep your website World Class you need to keep checking it and make sure that WordPress and plugins are updated when needed, that your links to external websites are working (other sites can go down).
A Mekatrig managed website hosting plan will make sure your website is updated, scanned daily for malware and give you backup protectionwith 1-click site restore in case of disasters.