Today, I thought I would answer one of the questions that I get asked the most.  “Michele, what do I need to have on my website?”.  Creating an effective website is actually very simple.  It is a matter of asking yourself how to make your website “face” toward your audience rather than be “all about you”.  If you can do this, you’ll be ahead of most of the websites out there — most focus on the business rather than the customer.

Here are the five key elements of a successful website:

1.  A clear target market.  When somebody comes to your site — they should feel as if you have written the site “just for them”.  The more tightly you have defined your ideal clients – the easier it to tailor your web copy.

2.  Opt-in Box visible (without scrolling).  This is one of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make.  Many don’t have a way for people to enter their e-mail address.  Without an e-mail, once the customer leaves your site, they are gone.  With an e-mail, you have a chance to offer more information, add more value and deepen your relationship.  Another mistake I see way too often, is burying the sign up at the bottom of the page.  If your prospect doesn’t get into your site enough to scroll down — you’ve lost them forever.

3.  Clear and Easy Navigation  Your prospect should be able to easily get to the information they’ve come to find on the site.  An easy way to see if your navigation is meeting the needs of your customer – is to think about the questions people ask you about your business.  The answers to the most common questions/objections should be prominently featured on your site.

4. Notification of Updates  Unless you have some very rabid fans, your prospects are not going to be coming back to your site to see if you are updated it.  You need an easy way to let them know that you’ve added something new to the site.  Most people accomplish this by adding an RSS subscription button to their site.  Feedburner offers an excellent service that allows people to subscribe to get e-mail messages alerting them to site updates.

5. Easy Connections: People do business with people they “know, like and trust” — the best way to build that relationship is to make it super easy for people to connect with you via the web.  Connections can happen via blog comments, via social media, or even just via a contact page on your site.  A bonus is that lots of comments on various social media channels is a quick way to build your credibility by offering “social proof”.