Sometimes I just can't believe that I still run across sites that don't have the basics. The basics I'm talking about aren't keywords or sitemaps for SEO, they're not intelligent navigation, or even a way to collect an email address for your weekly newsletter. While those are important for marketing, I'm talking about what's important to gain and keep the trust of your website visitors.
Here are five things I've actually shouted out loud in the past few months when using an app or visiting a site for the first time.
1. "How the hell can I contact ANYONE at this company?"
People who want to get in touch with you are really going to get aggravated when they don't have an easy way to do it. If you don't want to put your email address on your site (we get it, spammers suck) include a simple form that a visitor can fill out. Use Wufoo or Formstack, put the code on your site and visitors can fill out the form with their question or concern. And if you're scared of nasty bots use a CAPTCHA, (those sometimes hard-to-read numbers and letters you need to type into a field to prove you're human.) With a form you can get an email directly to your inbox when someone fills it out.
2. "A copyright date on this site says 2012. Is the company even around anymore?"
3. "The About Us section of this site doesn't say who's behind it or why they're even in business. #fail"
The About section of your site is WAY more important than you think. It's often among the top 10 pages visited on your site and may be the most ignored. Your About section should relate to the person reading your page and why they're there: to find out who they're potentially going to be doing business with. Who are you, Why did you decide to offer this, and What problem does it solve for them?
Make sure you include pictures of you and your team so people can see the actual people behind the business; your business goes a long way when it's personalized. Feeling quirky? Add pictures of your pets, too.
4. "Um...this social media company doesn't have social follow links? Weird."
I don't care what type of company you have (OK, the SEC restricts some financial and venture firms), you should be active on some social networks. Hey, it doesn't have to be every one of them -- your business might not lend itself to that (although, when I see a funeral home with a Facebook presence, everyone should be on social.) So you should have a "follow us" with links to the social networks your business is active on.
Privacy policies are important especially in this day and age of people wanting to protect their information online. Whether it's your blog where you collect email addresses or your website where you cookie your visitors, it's crucial that they know how you are going to use their information and who'll be accessing it. Use Truste or Iubenda.
So there you have it. Include these five simple things on your site and you'll never have your visitors uttering these phrases.