October 2022

Essential Elements of a Professional-Level Website

By: Soren C. Adams | VP of Business Development | Sapient eCommerce

Features and Functionalities of a Professional-Level Website

Aesthetics Inspire Trust

In today’s saturated online environment, it is not only imperative to have a website presence but also to have that website signify your company’s level of Expertise (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness are three website factors that Google values highly). Once a potential customer or client clicks on your website, you have mere seconds to impress upon them your worthiness. This is assuming that you have optimized the site to enable the site being found. All other features and functionalities are inconsequential if users are abandoning your site because it’s amateurish, outdated, and flat.


What do you hope to accomplish with your website? Many small businesses throw money at their websites without having thought it through. They approach it as if it were a fashion fade. Everyone has one so…. But a company website should be viewed as a marketing tool for attracting potential customers and converting them to paying customers.  Professional-level websites inspire trust in users, convey expertise, and deliver valuable content to people searching for information, services, and products. Identifying your goals and planning a strategy to support achieving those goals is the first step along the journey to developing your website into an effective business tool.

Does your website satisfy potential customers’ search intent? People will come to your website for a variety of reasons using one of three search types:

Navigation Search. Users already know who you are and will either navigate directly to your website using your website address (www.yourwebsite.com) or they will Google your business name.

Informational Search. Here people are searching for information that will enable them to make an informed decision about either which product to buy or which service provider to hire. This type of search usually evolves into comparative shopping. This is where you should try to stand out from your competitors.

Transactional Search. At this point browsers are ready to make a decision. They lean heavily on Google. This is where SEO and having content that incorporates keywords aligned with searchers’ intent pay off.

It’s outside the scope of this article, but to home in on your target audience you should begin with building User Personas. For our purposes in this article, ask yourself a few questions: Do you know your audience? When they search online for your products or services, what keywords or phrases do they use? What device do they use?  What would make them choose to visit your website instead of a competitor’s site? That is, what value does your website deliver that distinguishes you from the crowd? What problem does the content on your website solve for the user?

Fortunately, there are numerous tools available to help you determine searcher intent. These tools coupled with your brick-and-mortar customer service experience will enable you to create content that potential customers and Google consider valuable.

  • Google Analytics will help you understand User Behavior on your website. What content does your present website users find useful? What information they feel is missing in your existing products or services? You can tune into audience demographics and particular interests. You can discern what other websites they tend to visit the most and much more.
  • Google Search Console gives you insights into your users and website. Which search terms have your site appeared in and on which terms have users clicked? This information helps your determine search queries that get a lot of impressions but no clicks, or vice versa.

Armed with this knowledge you will be able to create content that searchers, and in turn Google, consider valuable. It is important to note that if you create value for searchers, Google takes note of it.

Technical Site Optimization

Beyond relevant keywords and content creation, technical optimization or technical SEO looks at how well a website is seen and understood by search engines.

When someone enters a search query on Google (or any other search engine), Google’s spiders begin to “crawl” the Internet looking for content that is relevant to the query. If you have prepared your site (Technical SEO) to be easily crawlable, Google will be able to index pages. That is, Google will be able to organize and store your site’s content in a database. When someone searches for information Google can then quickly located and deliver that relevant content in the search results.


With the avalanche of online scams, hackers, and bogus companies, trust signals are must-have-elements on your website if you hope to be ranked on Google.  Both search engines and users scrutinize every element of a website before deeming it trustworthy, safe, and secure. Google now penalizes websites that are not secured.


It will be hard to build trust in potential customers/clients when this type of warning their introduction to your company. We are constantly having to inform business owners that their sites are unsecure and for this reason their website is not attracting traffic.

Don’t blame Google. Google’s bread-and-butter is derived from delivering trustworthy and relevant search results. If your site presents dubious content or does not exhibit secured signals, search engines will either penalize you or refuse to rank your content. Your competitors will take full advantage of your misstep and misfortune. You must develop trustworthiness through both Technical SEO and relevant content aligned with searcher intent.

Take the time to verify that your site is secure for both you and your customers. Preventing hacking is much easier than repairing a hacked site. Update your SSL certificate, create strong passwords (longer than 12 characters with upper case and lower-case letters as well as symbols) and use tools such as Cloudflare to protect your site from DDoS attacks.

Website Design Aesthetics, Functionality, and the User Experience

Does your website need to be beautiful? Absolutely! Take it from someone who has been in the business for over 21 years.  Unless you’re IBM, Berkshire Hathaway, or Costco if your website looks like a page from an old Sears catalog, few will stay long enough to find out what products or services your company provides. The answer is always form and functionality. Your site should be well-designed, and the functionality should be intuitive and accessible. This combination creates an enjoyable user experience (UX). Put yourself in your website visitors’ shoes and you’ll know what elements are important to improve UX. Site loading speed, for example, is critical to an enjoyable UX. If I have to count to 5 Mississippi before a page loads on a website, I’ll abandon the site. If I must squint to read the content on a page because the font is too small or in some color that blends with the white background, I won’t bother. If a website isn’t responsive and I cannot visit it on my smartphone, I will tend not to visit it again even when I get home and am sitting at my desktop.

The take-home message: avoid frustrating your website visitors at all costs.

Mobile website is essential

62% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices. By mobile website or mobile-friendly website we mean a website that is designed and optimized specifically for hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets. Mobile responsive website design is the process of creating a site that is responsive or rather adapts to the screen size it is being viewed on.

Any website designer or agency worth its salt will recommend that your site have responsive functionality. If they don’t, look elsewhere. We haven’t made a non-responsive website since 2012.

Optimize your website for Google and all other Search Engines

We learned earlier how search engines crawl sites to index pages and store them in a database presenting them when relevant queries are made. This is what Google sees when it views a website:


This is too involved a topic to cover here but search engines need a little guidance when attempting to understand what a webpage is about. We’ll cover it in an upcoming article as well as a course we’ve developing. For now, it’s important for you to understand that Google’s a poor reader. If you want to be understood by Google, you’ll have to give them a little help and translate the content on your site. This is where Schema format, site structure/structured data, and a host of other Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factors come into play.


If you need a refresher on the basics, read on.

So, what makes a good website? The Basics

I.     Clear & Visible Call-to-Action

What do you want your visitors to do when they’re on your website? The desired action you want should be clear to the visitor. In general, a Call-to- action (CTA) includes an action button: ‘BUY NOW”, “CLICK HERE”, “REQUEST A QUOTE”, “COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW”, or some variation of these.  You’ve done a lot of work and/or spent good money to attract that website visitor. Don’t have them trying to guess what you want them to do next. The CTA is the mechanism with which you’ll convert visitors into paying customers.

Make sure you have your contact info in the top right and footer with quick links to al the valuable web content, Contact Us forms, Request a Quote button, etc. You should also have an XML Sitemap in place.  It’s a good idea to use of a different color fonts for the CTAs to draw the visitors’ eye.

II.    Intuitive Site Navigation and Architecture

Having clear site navigation helps your visitors quickly find sought after information. It also helps search engines easily index your website pages.

III.   Countdown! 7-6-5-4-3-2-1.  Craft a Perfect Homepage or They’re Gone

Over 90% of website visitors make a decision to stay or abandon the site within 7 seconds. That decision is 100% determined on your homepage. In 7 seconds, they will decide if you’re an expert or a hack, trustworthy, or as good as your competitors. Make a good first impression. Perfect your elevator pitch. Spend the time or money to have a quality logo designed. Write keyword-rich intelligent sincere content.

IV.   What’s Your Story

Please don’t just throw up some lame half-witted vanilla About Us page. Tell a real inception story. Draw the visitor with a story that engages them and engenders trust. Add photos of your team or your place of business. Your potential customer is trying to get to know you and decide whether you’re worthy of her trust.

V.    Tracking of conversions

Congratulations! 1000 people visited your website yesterday. What’s that? You didn’t notice. No one clicked on your CTA. No one called order that Didgeridoo.  you’re selling. Why not? Well, let’s look at their on-site behavior.

You simply must track visitor behavior to develop your website into an effective business tool. What’s working and not working? What content attracts the most visitors and keeps them engaged the longest (dwell time)? What pages have the most abandonments and what can you do about it? Which pages convert? If your webmaster has not at the minimum implemented Google Analytics just fire her. No really. All you’re doing is shooting in the dark.

You need to track your visitors’ on-site behavior before you can develop a conversion strategy, evaluate your digital marketing efforts, and (as my old man was found of saying) connect the dollar-to-the-dot.


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