/ 10 must-haves for a website

Dec 16

/ nic.at News - 16.12.2019 14:20
10 must-haves for a website

There’s a lot to bear in mind when designing a new website – the finished article needs to be easy on the eye, as well as fully compliant with the latest legal requirements and technical standards. This article gives an overview of the ten things every website needs.


1. Domain name
These days companies don’t just need a solid business plan, good ideas, decent products and enough money to pay for it all – they also have to have an attention-grabbing domain name. Many people are still not fully aware of the importance of selecting the right domain – for companies, clubs and private individuals. We have put together a handy guide to domains, some tips and tricks to help you select the ideal domain name and created a .at domain finder – this helpful tool supplies suggestions to help you on your way to the best available domain.

2. User-friendly design
Even if a striking design captures the attention of visitors to the website, it is pretty meaningless if they are unable to find their way around or are crushed under the sheer volume of the content on offer. This is why the client, its target group and their needs are paramount when it comes to the design of a website: from a company’s perspective in particular the site’s overarching purpose is to convey relevant information about the business itself and the products and services it offers. It needs to have a clear structure and intuitive navigation that takes users to the information they are looking for in as few clicks as possible, and it should also load quickly.


3. Mobile version/responsive design
More than half of users access the internet on their phones or tablets. This means that the website has to be optimised for all devices (smartphones, tablets etc.) to avoid unnecessary scrolling for phone users and poor search engine rankings as a consequence. This is why responsive design needs to be taken into account at the development stage, both from an aesthetic and a programming perspective – some elements have to be presented differently on mobile devices compared with the PC versions.


4. Accessibility
Not all internet users have good eyesight, or can use a mouse or keyboard. Accessibility is becoming more important as site owners increasingly focus on creating an optimal user experience for people with impaired vision or restricted mobility. Optimised measures include the use of contrasting colours, pared-down menu structures, simple ways of enlarging the font size and adding something known as ‘alt texts’ to images which describe what is displayed on screen – and are another key SEO metric. Further information and details of accessibility measures can be found on the following websites: Austrian Economic Chambers and international organisation W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).


5. XML sitemap
As the name suggests, a sitemap is a map of the website: it lays out the site’s structure including all directories and subpages. While they are less important these days than they used to be (as navigation provides a much more elegant solution than it did in the early days), they are still very important for search engines. An XML-format sitemap can be submitted to the Google Search Console to help the search engine get a better understanding of the site as a whole. If a site uses videos, a separate video sitemap is recommended as it helps Google and other search engines to interpret video content from the metadata.


6. Legal notice
For statutory reasons, all websites must display a legal notice, and that applies to sites for private individuals and businesses alike. The link to the legal notice should be visible on every page and easy to access from anywhere, which is why it is recommended to display it in the footer. In the case of a company, mandatory content for the legal notice includes the full registered name, the legal form, the registered address and the company register number. The Vienna Economic Chambers brochure details the information that needs to be shown in the legal notice. Firmenwebseiten.at also offers a legal notice generator for Austria.


7. Data protection notice including cookie policy
Since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) a separate page must be set aside for the data protection notice and cookie policy. It must clearly show which services link to the page (e.g. Google Analytics, Facebook login, buttons to share content on social media channels). A cookie notification banner also has to be placed on the website which calls for users to actively consent to the use of cookies. To the extent that there are any GTCs, it is recommended that these are also published on the website.


8. SSL certificate
The SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is used to ensure secure transfer of website data by the browser. This is done via a protocol that encrypts data passed between the webserver and client (website user). Whenever sensitive data is sent by email it should be SSL encrypted so that it can only be read by the intended recipient. The SSL certificate has to be installed by the host provider – the certificate offered by Let’s Encrypt is free.


9. Search engine optimisation (SEO)
To help users find websites online in the first place, they need to be optimised for search engines. There are various technical and content-related factors to bear in mind here, some of which have been touched on already (XML sitemap, mobile optimisation and user-friendly design). The use of specific key words is particularly important: individual words or combinations of words should be chosen for each page or post. Tools such as the Google Keyword Planner and its open source counterpart Keyword Tool are good ways to find out if a key word is sufficiently relevant, i.e. if it is commonly used in browser searches.


10. Social media integration
Social media platforms have long since outgrown their original purpose of helping us to stay in touch with friends – they are powerful marketing instruments that should not be underestimated. Users tend to place greater faith in the reviews, experiences and recommendations of their own contacts. This is known as consumer-generated content or electronic word-of-mouth. Integrating buttons and plugins such as the Facebook like and share buttons and Pinterest’s Pin it button is strongly recommended.

Although these ten points represent just a handful of all the useful tips out there, they will definitely help you on your way to online success and cover the main issues that need to be taken into consideration.