Starting a website can be a really daunting prospect, even if you’re used to writing social media captions – it’s a big jump to then fill a web page and plus – they’re a bit more permanent!
Of course, it’ll vary from business to business what you need to include, but here’s a rough guide that I suggest to any clients who come to us for their Web Design, and now you can steal it if you choose to DIY your own.
Firstly I want you to think about why you want this website, is it to directly sell, is it to educate, is it mainly for PR purposes, is it a place to pull various content together. What’s the purpose? This will help you to write your content and know what language to use.
Let’s start with pages, as a general rule you’ll need…
Product or Services Page
Some do without an ‘about’ page if they include it all on their homepage instead, so it’s entirely up to you. Each page needs an absolute minimum of 250 words, but I’d like to you to try and double that, so if you’re struggle to write enough – ask if you can condense pages into one and perhaps include anchor links instead*.
Notice how I haven’t mentioned a testimonial page? It’s been noted that they’re more effective on the appropriate section of your website, so if you have a page specifically for web design (for example 😏) then include your web design testimonials there. And repeat with all other services. That way people are only reading the testimonials which will actually, potentially, influence them. Rather than scrolling through loads about products or services they’re not interested in. A few on your home, about and contact page won’t hurt either and will increase your word count – but I’d only advise if you have spare. Duplicated content is a no-no on any website, the SEO gods hate it.
I always like to include a specific contact page, as even with littering buttons throughout your entire website, some visitors will want to get straight in touch and a contact page is the easiest way to do that. I actually perfect for you to include a query form and an email address they can directly contact you on – as you don’t know people’s preferences. I’d rather email you from my account to yours so I know you’ve got it, but some prefer to fill in a form.
Products or Services (or both!)
If you have a number of products of services, I’d recommend you categorise them and have separate pages for each. You want your visitor to be able to find whatever they need easily rather than constantly scrolling. Again you can use anchor links for this or create entirely seperate pages, it’s a matter of preference. Remember though, the bigger the page – the longer it’ll take to load. Long loading times are bad for CX (Customer Experience) and SEO. Remember each page needs 250 words, so spend time on those product and service descriptions (and remember this is where reviews come in handy).
Obviously if you’re selling a product, you’ll need a checkout page, payment gateway (how they give you their money!), a thank you page, potentially account areas.
If you’re selling services, I personally love an option to book directly. Honestly I can’t tell you how much I detest going backwards and forwards to find agreeable dates and times, it’s exhausting. I use Calendly for people to book straight into my diary and it’s saved me so much time and makes the CX (Customer Experience, remember) so much better.
Aside from pages, here are some more things which are a necessity.
Clear, Quality Photos
If you’re investing a website, it really wouldn’t hurt to invest in professional photography too. You’ll get loads of images to use of varying orientations (portrait vs landscape) so you’re not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s also the easiest way to elevate the feel of your website. You don’t need loads and it doesn’t have to be expensive, but in my opinion it’s one of the best investments you can make for your marketing full stop.
I know we spoke about a contact page, but don’t limit it to there. Make sure you have plenty of buttons littered throughout for them to reach that contact page, ideally one in your header too. Also put your contact details in your footer too so it’s on every page you visit. Heat maps show that it’s the most visited part of your website after the header (and the header will always be the bit that loads first, so…). Only include methods you want people to contact you via, as they will use whichever suits them best whether it’s convenient for you or not. You may also want to invest in a live chat but I found it a faff that broke more than it worked to be honest.
Much like your contact details, give people a place to go next that isn’t your competitor. You want to keep them in your audience, not share them. You might have a portfolio that’s impossible to share all on one page, perhaps if you’re a hairdresser, artist, manicurist, decorator etc. So you Social Media will service as a portfolio for you and you can select a few stand out cases for your website. It’s really possible that if they like your website, they’ll want to find out more about you via your social media too – and also consider that might be how they wish to get in touch. So again ideally in your footer and preferably also in your header – include those clear social links.
Okay, here are some things which have both positives and negatives and totally depend on you as a person and your business individually.
A blog page.
Can you honestly keep it updated regularly? If the answer is no then it’ll look outdated within a few weeks and especially if your posts are dated – it’ll scream inconsistency. Blogs are powerful for SEO and are a fabulous resource to showcase your expertise or impart wisdom – but like I said, can you really commit to writing articles regularly?
If your business has a premises then it’s a no-brainer, but if it doesn’t then you may need to give this some thought. Some feel as though it makes your business look more professional, others wouldn’t dream of putting their address. You could potentially use your Accountants as lots do, but I’d make it super obvious that they won’t find you there incase they do a quick google before a meeting or turn up unannounced.
Again, fabulous in principle but can get old quickly. I used to visit a site semi-regularly and quickly noticed their portfolio never got updated. Is that because no-one else is trusting them with projects? Eek instant turnoff! Ours is embedded in our Web Design page, and I make a point to add new sites as soon as they’re launched.
Again, in theory – surely a video is a fabulous thing to include, what could be more personal?! Well, as I said before – you need to think of your load time. Videos are without a doubt the slowest thing to load, and if it’s not a complete enhancement to your site, I wouldn’t risk the potential damage to your SEO. You can always link them to videos via a still from it if you wish.
Eesch Capeesh, that got long didn’t it! I hope that you found it useful. This is just my opinion and what I’d advise if you came to us for your Website Design, it’s your website and your business so it’s ultimately what you want to include and what you think your audience will benefit from.
*an anchor link is where the link in your menu skips you to the specific part of the page, rather than a new page itself.