A website is not just a bunch of good looking pages, it’s more than that. It represents what you do and your company provides. You can not just follow what others do.

Having few pages what most people do like Homepage, services, about us, contact us and other traditional following is not going to work for all. Every business has its own set of services and product line and every business need to follow a different set of strategy and planning to build a successful business online.

Businesses are different but still, there is a lot which goes in sync with all and here you are going to learn it. I’m giving you highly recommended 111 checklist points if you follow you will definitely have an edge over your competitors and you can build better businesses online.

To create a perfect website you have to go through Four phases – Research/plan + Design/Develop+ Engage/Analyse

We are going to cover Two phases in this post,ResearchandBuild,because that’s what you need to create a perfect website. In my future Posts, i’ll specifically write on Track and Engage

1.Research– Do as much research as possible, Have brainstorming sessions, Create user journeys, Make Personas, Wireframes and actual simulation of what you have planned and delivery to end user. Choose at least Three competitors and learn from them, Pick their best practices and avoid their mistakes.

2.Build– Build your website based on what you have learned from your research, study, surveys, users feedback and competitors best practices. Remember “an early research will always save your money and time later”

I highly recommend you to give your 80% time in Research and Planning and 20% on Actual Product creation to achieve success.

Here is the 101 Checklist for you to evaluate your website before launch. I’m sure if you follow all of the below points you will get more happy customers.

1. Pre-Planning– Do as much pre-planning as possible. Remember it will save your time and money later

2. Simplicity– Keep your website simple and up to the level where User tasks are easy to accomplish

3. Colors– Minimal colors and theme which goes with your brand and keep it consistent

4. Less is better– Give fewer options, Humans do not like too much at once

5. Plan what’s important and what’s not– Make sure you present what actually needed and user is looking for and show them upfront

6. Show your expertise– You have to establish yourself as an expert of your domain and it doesn’t matter how old or new you are

7. Display Testimonials (Customer Reviews)– Show how you have helped people and what they have to say about you. It’s proven “human get influenced by other people recommendations”

8. Staff Bio and Office Photos– Show you are a team of good, expert people working in a professional environment

9. Contact options– Make sure your customers are able to contact you through Email id’s, Phone numbers and Chat

10. Visible refund and return policies– Don’t hide your policies and make sure they are visible to your customer

11. Avoid Superlatives or false claims– Sooner or later your customer will get to know about you, so if you want loyalty from them be genuine and do not write false information. If you are new in business tell them but also show how you are better than the rest

12. Detailed product information with pricing– Show as much information is required on your product, services listing and do not forget to show Pricing

13. Show client list and Case studies– If you have worked with any Clients, show their names and company information also if possible write Case studies on how you have helped them

14. Payment security– If you are taking payments on your website, show what security is been used – Display trust marks like SSL, Virus protections, and your encryption stamps

15. Career Page– Always have a Jobs page to show that you are a real company

16. No dead links– Everyone hates them so avoid them and use some nice 404 error page to redirect your users to other sections of your website

17. Social media profiles and link to website– Link your Social Media Profiles to your website and build a following

18. Good search Ranking– Hire an SEO guy if you are not doing it in house* remember 80% Traffic comes from Search engines

19. Privacy policy– Show people what information your website is collecting and what you do with it

20. Company Logo– Logo is what people remember and it should Look Professional and make sure it’s on a prominent location on your website

21. Memorable URL of home page– People have short memory and everyone likes a friendly name

22. Photographs and images– Always use good quality Images, do not just pick from Google. Strictly avoid using widely used or Stock Images Especially from your competitors

23. Show important content 1st– Do not confuse your visitor and show important content 1st, tell them what it’s all about

24. Keywords in Title Tag– Every search engine looks for it and also gives an idea to user what this page is about

25. Page Loading Speed– People leaves a website if it doesn’t open within 3 seconds or at max 5, no one likes to wait. So make sure your website loads quickly

26. No Duplicate Content– Duplicate content will give you nothing more than bad ranking and bad impression so just avoid it

27. Optimize images– To speed up your website load time, reduce image sizes using various tools and software. Keeping a good ratio between quality and file size

28. Grammar and Spellings– Bad language shows you are not professional and will create negative image of you in front of your users

29. No Broken Links– Links to your website pages, services, posts should be checked time to time to avoid Broken links

30. URL Length Path & Structure– Make sure your URL look nice, readable to users as well search engine

31. Prioritization of Pages in Site map– Always have Sitemap of your website and highlight your most important pages

32. User-Friendly Layout– A good layout will lead your user to perform their tasks easy and quickly without the hassle and there will be chances they will come again and buy. Remember if your layout is not well planned then user will abandon his journey

33. Breadcrumb Navigation– They are big help for users to know where they are heading to and from where they started

34. Mobile Optimization– It’s a mobile 1st world and more than 50% people surf, buy and engage on smartphones. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you have good chances to lose a big number of users

35. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools– Tell google you are online and keep on check what engagement you have with help of Google tools

36. Social Plug-ins & Shares of Referring Page– Add social share plug-ins on your content, products and let people share them

37. Geo Targeting– Think if you are selling from India and show INR pricing to US customer? No one likes it, invest some money and prioritize what people like to see in various regions

38. Blog– Content is king and having a blog will help you build a good user base and you will get enough room to show your expertise as well

39. 404 Page Error– Always have 404 redirection to guide your users

40. Plagiarism check– Do not post or write anything which is not checked for Plagiarism, You may have people writing for you so do not take risk

41. A|B Testing– Once shirt is not fit for all and same applies to websites. Make at least Two variations of your important pages and check what gives you best result

42. The first impression should be positive– Presentation is everything and makes sure your design, website makes a positive impression

43. Show Logged in username– People like to hear their names when someone meet, It create a positive impression that you care and same should be applied to your logged in users

44. Use Familiar Icons and Graphics– Always use familiar icons and graphics whenever needed. like for save icon it’s good to have Floppy or HDD, settings – Gear, Edit – Pencil. Do not leave any room of confusion

45. Fonts are readable– Make sure you use fonts which are easy to read and have good size If there is lot of content to be read make sure you have some options to make text size large

46. Consistent layout– Make sure all of your website pages, blog and your social profile pages have consistent layout to give it a seamless and professional look

47. Navigational structure– The navigation can make or break your website, Make sure you have planned well and tested your navigation with real users before making it live

48. Relevance based content– Show similar product listing, content to promote cross-selling on pages

49. Site Map with clear structure– Sitemap should give a clear structure of your website for easy user journeys

50. Don’t ask same information twice or more– People hate repetitive tasks as well as feeding information. If you have asked user name or email once, Store it and use it for rest of user journey

51. Quicker the better– Minimize user clicks and try to cover any user task to complete within 2 to 5 clicks.

52. Show price always close to Product– Do not hide pricing on product page listing and show in cart. User wants to know what costs what and if you hide there is no guarantee user will buy your product or service

53. Show filter and sorting options if large content– Do you like scrolling? no one does, so if you have huge content do not forget to add sorting options like price, time, popularity, relevance etc

54. User should not need to remember information to use website– Do not expect user to remember anything while performing any task

55. The website should cater to users even who has little to no previous web experience– Try not to make your website too complex that you need the user to guide on every step. Make it simple and make sure no guide needed

56. Site changes announce on home page– Tell it to the world if you have made any big change or launched something new or exciting

57. Design for the user and Focus on user– Deign for the user and not for machines or search engine

58. Important stuff on homepage– Try to add your most important stuff on Home Page and make it available with One click

59. Clear Navigation– Do not make your navigation menu Fancy or overdo it. Keep it simple and organized

60. Avoid flashy banners– Until you are in Casino or some very fancy business do not use flashy, jumping stuff kind of banners. They look like ads and distract users

61. Responsiveness– Your website should look and render perfectly on all devices, no matter what size they are. Making your website responsive makes it possible to reach a much larger user base than just desktops

62. Cross Browser Compatibility– When it comes to browsers people have their own preferences and make sure your website is compatible on all of them or at least on Major browsers

63. Avoid flash– Time have changed and use of flash is hardly seen when it’s about websites. You can easily achieve almost all of the animations with jQuery, html5 and CSS3 avoid it and most of the phones doesn’t support it as well

64. Text to Image ratio– Never over do your website with too many images or too much text and use images where its needed

65. Well thought Card Sorting– Card sorting is about making groups of similar tasks or goals a user generally think of like you will always look for clothes in the cupboard and not in Fridge. Similarly, create a menu, categories in suitable groups. A good way is to do a Card Sorting exercise where you invite people and ask them to group your actions into card fashion and use them in your website. At least study Five users at minimum

66. A minimal number of screen per task completion– Users every action or task has to be limited with minimal screens. Too many pages redirection disturbs the user flow

67. Above the fold– Your website and pages should show all important actions above the fold “Area what comes on user screen without scroll “

68. What’s coming next– Give hints how many steps are on users way if any task has to be completed in steps. Like if it’s a Three steps check out tells user what’s next

69. Create Persona– Think about what kind of users are expected to use your website and make sure you cover all of their expectations and goals

70. Personalize– Give personalized user experiences to a different set of people. A logged in user and new user screen should be different to maximize conversions. A new user needs to know what you are about and a logged in user is directly looking for your services

71. Make sure captchas should be readable– If you are using captcha for security, make sure they are readable for users without failure

72. Give clear indication what does what– Always show what action does what and show some info, for example, a register button will do what or what user will get from login

73. Always add alt attributes– Alt attributes on image is an amazing way to show info about them. Make sure your alt tags give an idea about image

74. Readable text content with good style and fonts– Your content needs to be clearly visible on all screens, user age and style it with Bold, headings, quote, italics. Users don’t read on The internet, they actually scan and your styling will help them find the right information quickly

75. Links/ buttons/ radio/ checkboxes are easily click-able– Use a larger are to perform a click. Like in your text based menu the link should be background and text and not just text. It will make users click and perform an action in a much easier way. If you like to click on radio or checkbox, make sure a much bigger area is clickable for the same action

76. Minimum or no pop-up– Popups are not rendered well on mobiles and sometimes create frustrations in user. Most of the users even use popup blocker to get rid of annoying ads. So better don’t use them

77. Consistent navigation on the whole website– You must use same navigational structure on all pages of your website

78. Show important actions with buttons, not links– Use buttons in place of Text links for your main actions you want to perform by the user. Make sure buttons are bold, big and easy to click

79. Visited link color change– Make sure your text link get a different color if it’s already clicked by the user. Having active and visited links color difference will tell user what has been clicked and what’s not

80. Ask only important questions– Don’t annoy your users with unnecessary questions. Ask only what’s important and needed at the time. You may ask more questions once user has completed a certain task

81. Get fields auto-filled if answered early or load from previous sessions– If user has been asked to fill some questions and later you need same info, better use session and cookies to get user data and fill them automatically

82. Label fields– Use descriptive text to tell user what needs to fill with clear context

83. Confirm form submission– Show some notification like “form successfully submitted” to confirm users their action has been completed

84. Field Error messages– If any form field gets wrong information filled by user, show failed error or highlight the field close to the field where it occurred

85. Data entry fields must have default values filled if necessary– If you are asking for delivery date make sure it’s on the same day or after and never show past dates. If you have system to identify user location fill country field automatically but still give the option to change it

86. Highlight what fields are required– Make sure you have clearly highlighted the fields which are required with some color highlight or some symbol or text etc

87. Use the same form for Login and new user registration (amazon style)– You never know what route user visit your website, they may or might not have registered before. Having the same page for new users and login link will enable users to log in or register from the same window and will speed up things

88. If limited choices, show them with radio buttons and drop downs– Use drop down fields and radio buttons to select if limited choices are there. Like do not ask user to write gender or country

89. Descriptive and clear Call to Actions– Make sure your call to actions are highlighted and in bold so it can easily get user attention and encourage them to perform actions

90. Simple Language– No one like machine language or language which is written for search engines. Use simple to understand language and write for your users

91. Unique & updated content– Always update your content with the latest information, facts and happening

92. Short Paragraphs– Write short paragraphs and small sentences

93. Show graphics, images, charts along with Data– One image is worth 1000 words and user gets a quick idea of what’s the content is all about. Use images, charts, icons, photographs to better communicate with your user

94. Know your user and show personalized content– Track your user and show content what he is interested in like if your user searched for shoes on your website in his next visit give him some shoe and related products like socks recommendation

95. Clear and descriptive headlines– Headlines are everything and it gives an idea what the page and whole content is all about so use effectively

96. The adequate contrast in text and background– Use light color in background and dark text or vice versa. Do not use similar contrast or identical colors for both

97. Make it easy to contact– Make your users contact you easily and highlight how they can contact you

98. If Chat support is present make sure its instant– Customer support can make or break any business and if you have chat support make sure its instant otherwise user may close your website and will never visit again

99. Choose best competitors websites and pick their best but do not copy paste– Pick your competitors wisely and use their best practices but do not copy paste

100. Show how you are different from your competitors– Tell your users how you are different from other using comparison charts and compare options

101. Show real photographs of your office and people– It gives a good impression on users as they want to do business or buy from an authentic sources.