This is one of those GREAT questions being asked by every business.
Depending on your business or industry and your specific needs, it really depends on a number of specific features, target audience and the experience you want for your customers. With that said, I think its best to expand this question into what most ALL Great Websites have in common.
Maybe we should, do like what everything else does on the internet - Just Google this question?
...but wait a second, I already have looked on Google, and here's a thought where you should start.
Content is King!
To start, one of the TOP elements for websites is: the Content. Great Content educates, defines, or answers some of the basic questions.
Great Content can come from you, as the business owner; or your staff and employees. However, you need to be careful with your sales & marketing staff. This content is tapping into your industry expertise and being a problem-solver.
If you can share some of your stories, whether that was at a Chamber of Commerce event, a conference, business lunch, or recent sales call; Great Content is facts and better shared through a story - (i.e. one of your clients had this problem ...as you went through gathering more information, you made a connection and suggested (blah, blah, blah) ...and that saved them $10,000 (blah, blah, blah). ...and you took them to lunch.)
In Byron White's book: "101 Content Marketing Tips", he says: "Make sure that the content you create is something that customers can believe and that it offers guidance and advice in a meaningful way. This type of information will build trust in your company as a solution provider and eventually lead to the sale."
A couple of Blogs that back up this idea.
...notice the Top 2 Ingredients, that gets back to my point: Content is KING. The other ingredients will play into the rest of my series of blog posts - exploring further about: What make a Website GREAT?
Another blog, has an industry expert Mr Joe Pulizzi (founder of Content Marketing Insititute) disclosing the
...Wouldn't you agree? The majority of Baby Boomers & Gen Y-ers are
savvy about noticing when the Sales pitch comes; and they zone everything out. The American public is constantly bombarded on TV, radio, newspaper, billboards, etc. So, what's different about your sales message? Are you selling (and following the Sales ABC's? i.e. "Always Be Closing"). Your sales message has to come at the right time, in a way your customer is ready to listen and at the buying moment.
...I certainly agree - brands and businesses are hiring very creative and talented people today. These key people may also be outsourced (like MediaTrik could be your marketing arm) too; if you can't find them; or can't afford them at the moment.
It's these stories that people tell/share ...and it gets repeated, etc. My father was great at this as it may be a sales joke; or, who he ran into the other night (i.e. Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, Dick Butkus, Jerry Lewis, Fast Eddie, Walter Payton, Jim Osborn, Dikembe Mutombo,
etc.) ...and storys travel at light speed (over Social Media - viral videos; etc.)
...Would you agree, if you have one, two or more employees, they each have a different perspective as what your company is? These other contributors usually are better than some owners, to put things (descriptions, products, services, etc.) in words as they have told their friends and neighbors, what they do, where they work, etc. The point is, you (as the small business owner) don't need to be alone - you have support all around you. All you need to do is Ask?
...Everyone is constantly being bombarded by commercials and being sold to. As soon as you ADD your sales pitch - talking about YOUR Brand - I hate to say, you lose people in todays on-line marketplace ...they will tell you when they are Ready to BUY (whether you have them Call you - or start clicking the BUY button on your website.
...I like this idea of turning your Best customers into your NEW sales force & asking for referrals. Is your business already like that? Stop cold calling and is all Word of Mouth referrals?
Don't mistake GREAT Content for just your business name, address/store location & hours of operation. That's important information to be included in the website - but, it does not solve any of your customers problems; nor does it reach out to people to have them interested in your business or product.
Bryan Eisenberg of FutureNow, Inc. says: "Saying Content is King is the equivalent of saying money is valuable: it's true, but obvious. But is all content equally valuable? Of course not! What makes content valuable is relevance to your readers. How that message is delivered is what continually evolves."
What websites do you LIKE the Best? ...and Why?