When it comes to managing your website, how do you spend most of your time? I’d be willing to bet you spend most of your time trying to decide what to put on it. After all, your website is your 24/7 employee, bringing in potential customers and fans in your sleep. Of course you want it to represent you in the best way possible! But what are the essential website elements you need?

Essential website elements

Despite the title, I’m not going to give you specific elements that should be on your website, like this page or that widget. Because when it comes down to it, your website isn’t about what you want. It’s about what the people who are going to give you money are looking for. If your website confuses people, they aren’t going to give you their money. Simple as that.

If your website confuses people, they aren't going to give you their money. Simple as that.Click To Tweet

It doesn’t matter if this widget is going to look really cool in your sidebar, or that page is something that everyone else has on their website. Is it going to give readers a clear path to what they need from you? Everything on your website should benefit your readers in some way and make it clear to them what you provide. With that in mind, here are 4 essential website elements and some ideas for implementing them.

Essential website elements and the questions they should answer

Why does your site exist?

I recently submitted my site for free Peek User Testing. I thought the purpose of my site was pretty clear, but I was surprised at just how long it took the user to understand that purpose.

The absolute most important thing your site can do is to communicate to the user why it’s there in the first place. No one is going to stay on your website if they don’t know what it’s for. You want your target audience to immediately identify and connect with your purpose to begin down the path of becoming a fan and customer.

Making it obvious why your site exists is crucial for building an audience and an income.Click To Tweet

A few ways to communicate your purpose: An intro on your home page, an easy-to-find about page, an about blurb in your blog sidebar, clear navigation links that show more about you at a glance (for example, blog categories can show your areas of expertise).

Why should the user come back?

If the user has connected with your purpose and likes what you’re up to, great! That person is more likely to buy from you in the future and spread the word about your site.

But they aren’t likely to do that based on a first impression alone. Relationships develop over time, and you want to give the reader a reason to come back to continue building that relationship. For me, I connect with readers best through my blog and email list, so I want them to find fresh content from my blog easily and give them plenty of opportunities to sign up for my email list. Maybe you build relationships on Instagram — then you’d want to capture their attention with a feed of your latest images and a call-to-action to follow you there.

A few ways to encourage the reader to come back: Put your latest blog posts on your home page, add opt-in forms to prominent areas of your site, add social media feeds and buttons.

Make sure your website communicates why the user should come back.Click To Tweet

How can the reader get in touch with you?

Before someone buys from you, they want to know that there’s a real, accessible person behind the website. They want to know you aren’t going to take their money and run.

Have you ever visited a website where you couldn’t find any sort of contact info — no contact form, no email address, not even social media icons? You probably started to question the reliability of the person behind it. Even worse, if you were thinking of purchasing something before, you probably changed your mind pretty quickly when you weren’t sure you’d have a way of contacting that person if something went wrong with your order.

Showing that you're a real, reachable person builds exponential trust with your readers.Click To Tweet

A few ways to show the reader how to get in touch with you: A contact page in your main navigation, email address in your site footer, social media buttons throughout your site.

How can people buy from you?

At the end of the day, if you’re running a business on your website, then the ultimate goal of your website is to get people to pay you. Don’t assume that people will figure out how to do that on their own.

You can’t just put up a “hire me” page and call it a day. Most sales are not going to come from people finding your site for the first time, unless they are coming to your site specifically because they are looking to hire someone with your expertise (even then, they’ll probably want to get to know you better first). Most sales come from people who have a need and think of you first because they’ve connected with your purpose and you’ve helped them out in some way.

Don't assume that people will know how to buy from you without a clear path to purchase.Click To Tweet

A few ways to show people how to buy from you: A hire me page (still helpful! Just shouldn’t be your only strategy), a note on your about page, reminders in related blog posts.

Don’t stress too much over the specifics — these are just ideas. Try things out and see how they feel to you and your audience. The beauty of doing business online is that you can easily adapt to your audience’s responses.

And if you’re interested in having a community to turn to for feedback, check out Creative Code Club! I’ll show you how to improve your website one small project at a time, and you’ll have exclusive access to community forums where you can share what you’re working on and get feedback and ideas. Join now as a founding member and lock in the $97/year rate, ending tomorrow. There’s also a monthly option for $15/month — less than you’d pay for one hour of WordPress support. Hope to see you in Creative Code Club!