The Great Resignation has inspired many Americans to look for a change. Whether that means starting a new business, freelancing, or just building up a personal brand, having an online presence is a crucial part of finding success in today’s landscape. Data from the fourth quarter of 2021 shows that over 76% of new Bluehost users started their websites for themselves, and not a client, company, or someone. While it’s exciting for people to get a site up and running for themselves, some Great Resigners’ may not know where to start.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to build a professional digital presence, but that doesn’t mean the process isn’t still intimidating. Here are a few easy tips to draw visitors in and keep them coming back.
Make your site informative and easy to navigate
A website is one of the best tools to promote your business or personal brand, but it’s of no use if users can’t quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. An About page can be a great place to start, and should serve as the jumping-off point for your visitors. It may seem like an obvious answer, but this is easy to neglect and serves as an ideal space to include relevant information about what you do.
That’s not to say your About page can’t be creative. Ideally, you want your personality and vision to shine through in what your visitors see first. Depending on the purpose of your website, feel free to use this as a blank canvas of sorts.
For example, if you’re promoting your photography business, it would be wise to include some of your photos on this page. If you’re a freelance writer, link to some of your best work. Think of your site as a digital portfolio, whether it’s for yourself or your business.
Clearly label your pages with the relevant content, and tailor your site design to your objective. If you’re selling online, that means a prominent digital storefront that’s easy to find. Ideally, that includes product filters, images, and reviews, which can often be included in the right website building platforms.
The worst mistake you can make in constructing your site is burying the best and most relevant content. Be intentional about what you want your visitors to see, and let your design strategy flow from there.
There’s a plugin for that!
WordPress is the ideal platform for starting your portfolio website, with thousands of free themes and plugins to customize your website. Plugins are an important aspect in your website building journey, as they provide you and your site with enhanced capabilities.
For showcasing work, users can leverage gallery plugins, like WP Portfolio, to create a gallery of work quickly and add multiple functionalities to your website. A plugin enables users to select unique layouts and scrolls and pull in content from various sources like YouTube, Instagram and more.
Once you build your website, you need to drive traffic to it, which is something a SEO plugin can help with. Search engine optimization (SEO) plugins, like Yoast, help users rank in search engines. SEO isn’t just a onetime activity, but an ongoing process that helps your site stay relevant as keyword trends change and internet users look for different things. An SEO plugin guides users to create SEO-friendly content, solid internal linking structure, and optimize elements to make it more crawlable by search engines.
E-commerce plugins can also be a great tool if you plan to sell products or services on your site, as these can enable you to sell your products or services straight from your digital storefront and give your customers a wide variety of purchasing options. These can also ensure that your customer’s checkout experience is versatile and secure, making them more inclined to make a purchase.
Don’t neglect security or compatibility measures
Your site should also be safe, accessible, and versatile, and there are a few easy measures that beginners can take to check all three boxes.
The first is an SSL certificate, which is an affordable (often free with hosting packages) and easy way to show users that your site is safe and removes barriers to access. Search engines will flag sites without SSL certificates and give users a warning or redirect them, and this ultimately keeps potential supporters or buyers away. People want to feel that their information is safe online, and the risk of visiting an unsecured site far outweighs the reward.
Loading speeds are another key thing to keep in mind, as people have short attention spans when browsing the Internet. After all, when there are millions of alternatives available at the click of a button, users won’t be inclined to wait more than a few extra seconds for your content. Ideally, it should take your site one to two seconds to load, and there are a few ways to check on and improve your speeds. Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights can give you accurate data on your loading speeds, as your devices will automatically load your site quickly if you frequently visit it.
Optimizing image sizes, setting up page caching and upgrading your servers are among the ways you can improve your speeds if you’re not satisfied with your results, as missteps in these areas can unintentionally bog down your site’s performance.
Finally, you need to prioritize mobile-friendliness. According to a recent statistic, 54.4% of website traffic came from mobile devices in the final three months of 2021. Chances are, your customers are browsing your website on their phones, too. So, you’ll need to make sure that your site is compatible with both desktop and mobile.
Creating a mobile version of your site is simple with most website builders, and it’s a worthwhile way to make sure that all of your viewers or prospective customers will be able to comfortably navigate your content.
Ultimately, building a successful online presence revolves around the visitor experience. If your users feel that your site engages their wants and needs in the right ways, they’re likely to come back and support it in the future. Growing that audience can take time, but these measures will provide a robust foundation for future success.