The non-negotiable 8 must-haves in your next website build


Dave Prince

7 min read

It’s 2023 and you’re planning on building something white-hot for the web. The humble brand website has come a long way. For good reason too, we need these company assets to do good things for our business and put us out ahead of the comp.

There are some non-negotiable must-haves that we think should be core in every build. From web imagery to the platform you choose, we’ll give you a nice little shortlist to tick off and include in your list of standards for making something great;

1. Overstimulated users drop out of the browsing experience

Even high-spec designed websites can suffer from being chock full of elements and components that might look sick but make it hard to concentrate on the page story.

Telling a good yarn that your browser can grasp and assemble in their own mind is greatly helped by avoiding overstimulation.

Carefully crafted design aesthetics and use of white space is a non-negotioable design tactic to keep visitors loving the web experience.

2. The 80/20 rule applies to your web copy

Let’s be real. The percentage of potential customers actually reading your website copy is low. Especially so if you’ve gone a little hard on the word-smithing. On average, only 20% of your on-page copy receives eyeballs and this startling fact comes down to one thing. Scanning.

Yep, most folks are speeding through your copy looking for a specific piece of information they need. This truth might sting a little - potential customers don’t want the long story, they want the short version.

Copy length is a big deal. Getting to the point might help you get more customers.

3. Video can shift the lamest website into a powerhouse

How many times does it need to be said. Video can take a whimpering website and turn it into a beast. From helping the SEO juice to conveying your brand personality, video is the GOAT at elevating any website. Be it a product review or a service rundown, video is the metho on the flame.

This is the time to bring your people to the fore and capture your brand spirit through good quality footage & sound, with a specific purpose. Avoid thinking that video is something to add down the track. Every website build needs a video game-plan.

4. Choose a unique typeface, be memorable

Case in point. Use the way-back machine and travel back a year or so. Every single damn software company was using the exact same typeface in their so-called design aesthetic. They all felt the same and same-same is bad for brand.

Making a bold choice on a typeface that is unique and suited to your brand is a fly way to manoeuvre a visual takedown of your competitor. As long as it’s easy to read and suits your style, unique font’s can be almost as impactful as a brand mark itself.

5. More than ever, we need great copywriting

Yeah we know, the rise of AI, chatGPT and jasper means the death of copywriters. Nah. That’s what we say to that. Copywriting is still an absolute KILLER skill to deploy on any new website build.

Original copy, well constructed with insights that come directly from your learnt experience combined with your future view on where things are headed are still going to outbot the bots.

To-the-bloody-point copy that cuts to the heart of what you need to say and what customers need to hear is the BACKBONE to any high-performing website.

6. Stock won’t cut it. Build trust using your own images

What’s the first thing you must establish through your website? If trust wasn’t on your list, add it now and move it to the top. Before anyone is likely to reach out and ask for more details or buy a product from you, being credible and dependable is critical.

One potent way to break down the wall and get the vibes flowing is to brief a shoot of your company / products / services using a weapon of a photographer who can elicit the best in your team and capture the spirit of your organisation.

You can no longer rely on stock images to do your bidding. Customers expect more. They want to know who they are dealing with, what you look like and the environment that you do it from. Nothing does this better than your own shoot and using those original images to enhance your message.

7. Building on WordPress is stink

835 million websites use WordPress CMS, so it must be awesome right? Well, ah embarrassingly no.

Wordpress was setup as a blogging platform that slowly over time became the CMS of choice for brand websites, leading to a chaotic user experience and a tidal wave of plugins to enable content functionality. The end result is something that resembles trying to cross a busy highway with a blindfold on.

So why does this concern you?

Making a good decision on the underlying tech you use to power your website will help you save a few bucks, reduce the time you spend on fixing problems and improve the experience of editing content.

There’s a handful of emerging CMS platforms that are built specifically for delivering brand websites (like Statamic which we recommend). These platforms provide a way better content editing experience with clean interfaces and easy navigation. The other big high-five is that you can build new pages and customise each block without the need for a developer once it’s setup by the agency team.

8. You don’t cut corners in design

Good design is and always will be at the heart of high-performing websites. Some think that design is about how something looks but it’s way more than that. For starters, design can make difficult or technical concepts much easier to understand by simplifying them into visual elements that words simply cannot do.

Design is also a great tool of organisation, arranging content into more digestible formats that are more interesting to read and keep us engaged as scan our way down a web page.

High-spec design typically has the following characteristics

  • Is innovative and different

  • Is aesthetic and easy to consume

  • Makes a content more understandable

  • Is unobtrusive in the browsing experience

  • Is honest and true

  • Has longevity and last impact

  • Is thorough down to the last detail

So while this isn't meant to be an exhaustive list of cool features you need in a modern website, if you can tick these 8 must-haves, you'll be in a good spot for launch.