With so many different trends springing up in the web design world, sometimes we lose focus on what makes a site successful. I can't tell you how many times I've seen clients overlook the benefits of simplicity for unnecessary features, or even neglecting mobile, which in a lot of cases I recommend starting from scratch.

Now, that's not to say that every website needs an overhaul just because they're poorly structured, but having a solid foundation in place will drive your engagement significantly. And believe it or not, it's much simpler to get started on than you'd imagine.

It Starts With The Structure

Perhaps one of the most simultaneously frustrating and rewarding things about working with such amazing clients is their desire to throw everything but the kitchen sink into their website. While I applaud their passion and enthusiasm, this can lead users to get lost in a sea of clutter, causing them to exit before they could even reach your "services" section. Instead, I start them out by asking one simple question: What's the end goal of your site and how do you want people to get there?

The 'end goal' usually involves a call-to-action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a mailing list, or even booking an appointment.

While it might sound simple, carving out a solid foundation for how you want people to behave with your site is imperative to gauging success. After all, the name of the game is how quickly can we get from A to B while saying just enough that they're intrigued, but not too much they become bored.

If you're just building your site, try to limit yourself to only the absolutely imperative pages (home, about, contact/sign-up). Or, if you already have a site but are looking to get a better response, think about what makes your website cluttered. Your site should look like delicately plated cuisine more than a full-spread lunch buffet, so take a step back to gain an outside perspective (or even ask for feedback).

Even after your structure is sound, it's now time to fill it in the blanks...which can yet again be a place where so many businesses lose potential customers.

Say More With Less

I know we all can't exactly be the next Hemingway, but having your website's copy be simultaneously captivating, yet concise is one of the most necessary things you must have to engage users. We live in an era where people are reading on their phones, tablets, and desktops, but want the same experience every time. Part of that is the amount of information we have to digest, which can be especially tough for new businesses.

As even some of the most seasoned veterans work tirelessly to perfect their pitch, your copy doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to tell a story, as well as be informative. However, your audience is going to be the biggest driver to what that entails. For example, a company that focuses on B2B lead generation doesn't exactly need to be persuasive in the high-minded "we can change the world" way of an Apple or Tom's, but it does need to explain what the product does and why it was built.

To put it in perspective, think about someone on their first day in the industry and someone on their thousandth. What could you say in layman's terms that were understood by the newcomer, but not insulting to the veteran? More, what inspired you to create a product that can help them both?

Always Lead Back to Your End Goal

No matter what page your visitors are on, always have your call-to-action on that page. I know it seems tedious, but this is going to increase your success rate tenfold.

While I know I've been talking about keeping your content concise/structured (which, your CTA should follow suit), it's a crucial element to have. Any link you post on your social, PPC, or SEO ads will already have a piece of your marketing pipeline in place, so you don't have to worry. After all, this whole process is about maximizing opportunity, so why limit yourself?

Published on: May 10, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.