Deciding you want a website is the easy part. Often our clients find that the most difficult process in building a new website (or revamping an existing website) is figuring out what to include on the website
Yes, a designer or website developer like us can help you figure out how the site should look, work, flow, and function. That’s our job. But the actual content on the website – the pieces that are going to catch the eye of your prospective customer – is up to you. After all, it’s your site. You know who your customers are and what you want to say to them.
The best person/people to put together the content for your website is you. You know the ins and outs of what you do better than anybody else. You know the history of your company. You know the services and pricing of your products.
But where on earth do you start?
If you are stuck, wondering what information to include on your website, you can use this handy list of the most common pages that feature on successful websites as a guide.
Your website homepage is THE single most important page on your website. This is your sales page – the equivalent of your shop window.
Your website homepage needs to grab the attention of your visitors instantly, because potential customers judge your site (and your company) within the first five seconds of landing on it.
Visitors have come to find out information about you, your business and the services you provide. They don’t want to trawl through masses of text or pages to find it. Your job is to make it easy for them by adding specific content on your homepage to quickly give them the information that they need
Here are some suggestions that you can include on your homepage:
What do you do/sell
It sounds so obvious, but you would be surprised at how many brands are not clear on their website about what they do. Just because you know what it is saying doesn’t mean it’s clear to new visitors, so make it simple and make it clear.
What’s in it for them
Tell your visitor how doing business with your company will benefit them. Explain why they should speak to you instead of your competitors. Remember to communicate in friendly terms they will understand.
Testimonials from your current clients are a great way to promote your services. They show why you’re the best option, they put your customer’s mind at ease right away and will instantly give you the credibility that builds their confidence in your business.
If you are in the ‘business to business sector’ add customer logos where you can of those companies you work with. Again, they will add to your credibility and inspire confidence, as well as giving your site visual interest.
What do you want them to do
When a visitor lands on your site you should make a nice clear path for them to follow – don’t just rely on your top navigation. Decide what you want the next step to be from the homepage and make it clear with a bold button or arrow. Don’t have too many paths or users may get confused.
How can they contact you
Sometimes the information you have on your site isn’t enough for a potential customer to make a decision and they might still have questions. If the only method a customer has of communicating with you is being directed to a web form, you will just frustrate users.
Offer a variety of contact options such as a phone number and an email address. They will feel much more confident buying from you if they can see a number of ways to contact you.
2. Products and services
When a visitor lands on your products or services (P/S) page, they are more qualified than if they just landed on your Home page. It shows they are interested, and there is a good chance they want to do business with you.
Because a P/S page visitor is quite likely to be interested in what you offer, your site needs to be designed and written so as to get a commitment from them.
It is a good idea to have a separate page for each product or service. Try and give as much information as you can about the kind of products and services you can provide for them and show their use to the customer.
A simple way is to start each page with a brief summary of the product/service then provide whatever additional information you can. If they have taken the time to search for what you are offering, they want to know as much information as they can, so this is not the time for the page information to be vague.
If they are not sure that the product or service you provide will suit their needs, they will move on to another company who will tell them what they need to know.
3. Contact us
When visitors come to your site and have a question to ask you, how would they do it? Do you have a specific page that tells them how they can contact you? If not then you should.
It is important you make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you if they have a question or a problem.
Here are some suggestions as to what you can include in your contact page:
- Email address via contact form
- Postal mail address
- Office/store address
- Map of the office/store address
- Operation hours
- Telephone and/or fax number
Place contact details in as many places throughout your website as you can.
One of the most important things a potential customer will be looking for on your website is your pricing, yet despite knowing that, there are so many companies who choose not to include the prices on their site.
Jakob Nielson, a consumer website expert says, “The most user-hostile element of most B2B and customers sites is a complete lack of pricing information”.
Don’t assume that customers are going to contact you to find out the price. The majority of them won’t bother.
Why? Because not having prices on your website makes people feel uncomfortable and intimidated about contacting you to find out the cost. Instead they will find another website where they can see the price upfront.
If you don’t provide prospective customers with the information they’re looking for, you will risk them going to your competitor’s site where they can get their questions answered.
Jakob sums it up by saying, “Do you really want to come across as saying, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford me?” When you can show your customer what they’re getting for their investment, you respect their ability to make decisions based on their wants and needs. They will reward your respect by doing business with you.
When people shop, whether online or offline, there is always a measure of uncertainty throughout the buying process, especially if they have never bought from you before or it is an expensive purchase.
Generally, the uncertainty begins to fade as the buyer goes through the process of researching their purchasing decision. They gather facts about what they need, look at features, benefits, quality, pricing and so on.
Testimonials go a long way towards putting your customer’s minds at ease. They are important as they provide potential new customers the opportunity to see a showcase of your existing customers. They also help to confirm that you are trustworthy, reliable and you provide great products and/or services to potential new customers.
By enabling your ideal customer to identify with previous customers through their testimonials, they can say to themselves “That’s just like me” or “I have that problem” and “This could work for me”.
Testimonials can be presented in various ways on your website. They can be written testimonials or product reviews from existing and previous buyers. You could even include before and after photos.
Show the problem in before and after pictures. Give an explanation of how your product benefited and solved this customer’s problem.
The more information you provide to identify aspects that are common to your ideal clients, the easier you make it for them to trust you and to buy from you.
It goes without saying that your testimonials should be genuine and verifiable. If you don’t have testimonials right now, starting getting them.
It is not as hard as you might think. Simply email your customers and ask them for their feedback on your business and service.
6. Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ’s are a huge timesaver for companies, particularly if you are running a bricks and mortar business as well as managing your online sales.
Instead of answering the same questions over and over again, place a list on your website of every question you receive along with the answer. As new relevant questions come in, keep adding them and the answers to the list.
The more information like this that you have on your website, the less time you will need to spend answering questions by email or phone.
Frequently Asked Questions should address any concerns or potential obstacles that might prevent you from getting the sale.
If you can answer any question that might be putting off a customer from buying then you will get many more sales as a result.
7. Subscribe form
Every online business should have a mailing list. They are the backbone of your marketing efforts, especially when you are trying to build customer loyalty and increase spending among your current customers or clients.
Subscribe forms (sometimes called opt-in boxes) are the perfect way to start building a mailing list. They are forms where visitors give you permission to email them with updates, special offers and news.
It is worth remembering that most people don’t like to give away too much information initially so only ask for basic information on the form such as their name and email address.
8. Online magazine or newsletter
An online magazine or newsletter is a perfect marketing tool. Not only does it help you to keep in touch with your customers but it provides your website with fresh content.
You might be thinking “Why do I need to send out a newsletter? I already have people following my updates on Facebook and seeing what I say on Twitter. Now you are telling me I need another place where I was supposed to come up with engaging things to say?”
Let me explain why a newsletter is still very effective. Your posts on Facebook and Twitter go by quickly, in a stream of other content and can easily get lost in a sea of other posts. If your customer isn’t checking Twitter around the time you post, she’ll likely never see your tweet, and Facebook’s algorithm only shows your posts to some of your fans.
Not only that, but there are also plenty of people who would be happy to get an email from you, but are unaware of you on social media.
Your email newsletter will go directly to your customer’s email box to be read when she gets around to it. This is extremely valuable! People place a high priority on their inbox, and if someone has asked you to send them newsletters, by all means, send them newsletters!
Include up to the minute information about your business, industry or anything that may interest your clients.
Add value to your website and business by providing information that compliments what you do in a Resources or Articles page.
For example if you sell wedding dresses you could include information about reception venues, wedding planners, wedding cakes and flowers.
By adding extra information you will be encouraging more visitors to your site and will be seen as a useful resource.
Resource pages are excellent because they:
- Help you rank higher in search engines for specific key phrases
- Improve the usability of your site, and finally
- Convert random visitors into loyal subscribers remarkably well
- How does a resources page do all of these things?
First, it helps your search engine ranking because you’re creating a high-value page with links to your all of your best content and resources so naturally this page should rank in search engines.
Second, it’s great for usability because you now have a page to direct people to. They will have access to high quality content and hand selected high quality articles that your visitor will find very useful.
And finally, it’s great for conversions because when people read your content and see that your site is a truly useful resource site they will be keen to subscribe to your mailing list so they don’t miss out on other great information.
10. About us
This is a very important page as it tells your customer about who you and why they should buy your products and services or trust your organization.
You may be wondering what to write on your “About Us” page. After all, you don’t want to sound like you’re bragging but neither do you want to bore your reader with a long, detailed resume.
As in most things, it’s all about getting the balance right.??
The “About Us” page is the place to blow your own trumpet, but to do it with facts not hype. Talk about your experience and knowledge in your niche. Tell the reader how many years you’ve been in business.
Give your company’s story, the reason why it was founded. Describe your capabilities and explain why you’re uniquely qualified to offer the service or product you sell.
The Internet is packed with websites selling almost the same goods and services that you provide so your “About Us” page should help persuade someone to do business with you instead of going to your competitor instead.
Don’t write in the third person. You won’t be fooling anybody. Everyone knows the “About Us” page is written or at least approved by the website’s owner.
So go ahead, use first person (“I”) or first person plural (“we”), depending on which is more appropriate for your situation.??
A visitor to your website wants to know there’s a real human behind this online business so make it conversational. Remember to be friendly and be likeable.
Many companies choose to include their mission, details of their staff such as staff photos, biographies and qualifications. So if you want to include information about your company’s mission, go ahead but speak with passion. Let your personality shine through. You can still appear professional while being friendly and even funny.
Include your photo and also pictures of your employees if appropriate. These don’t have to be professional studio portraits. They can be pictures taken in your work environment.
A picture will make you seem more real and will help the visitor begin to feel he knows you. From that point on he will begin to trust you and want to do business with you.
People want to connect with other people. That’s easy to forget when writing a corporate or professional biography for your website.
It is worth considering the incredible success of social media sites like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn as these are essentially a colossal collection of “About Me” pages for companies and individuals.
Don’t forget to add practical information too such as your business hours if you have a bricks and mortar business or when they can speak to you on the phone.
Other suggestions would details of recently completed projects, directions to your office or store, details of any trade associations you belong to as well as any awards that you may have won.
Try not to get too hung up about writing your website’s “About Us” page. Instead look upon it as an opportunity to build a relationship with prospective customers.
The central message that you want to get across is that behind your business are real human beings who have their customers’ best interests at heart. If you can get that point across your job is done.
A major goal for you as an online business owner is to give your customers complete confidence in buying from your site. If it is a valid, legitimate business then you should have no problem to stand behind the items sold or service provided.
One of the ways that you can do this is by offering your online customers a money-back guarantee? A guarantee can give potential customers the reassurance that if they make a purchase and don’t get what they want, all is not lost.
To help in creating a guarantee suitable for your online business, answer these 4 questions:
1. Will the guarantee apply to every item sold on your website
Before you decide on the type of guarantee to offer, think about each item sold on your site. If you make a general guarantee, it should apply to every item and if not, you will need to highlight different stipulations for particular products.
For example, consumable goods or certain pieces of clothing may have different requirements such as “please provide original packaging”. Services rather than products will have different conditions as well and will most probably be based on results.
2. How much time will the customer have to return the item
Most money-back guarantees range anywhere from 30 days to a year. Depending on the product in some cases the guarantee might last an entire lifetime.
When determining the length of your offer, try to give the customer enough time to not feel too pressured and take into consideration your particular product line.
3. What guarantees do your competitors have
Look at your competitors and the promises they make. You could match it or create an even better guarantee, which could then be highlighted as a benefit in purchasing from your site instead of from their site.
4. Will shipping and setup fees be refunded
Many online businesses choose to not refund shipping and setup charges, since the business already had to pay for those fees.
In some cases, this may be a good idea. However, if the product was of poor quality or defective, it is only fair that you give a total refund to your customer. A good rule of thumb is to always be flexible enough to allow for adjustments to the policy in different scenarios.
Once you have answered those questions, make sure to do the following with your site.
1. Clearly Outline and Support the Refund Process.
If you decide to make a money-back guarantee you must stand behind it. Don’t make the process hard for the customer and make them jump through hoops or fight for their refund.
They will already be disappointed in receiving an item they want to return without annoying them any more. You will need to act quickly and make the refund process as easy as possible.
Just because they are returning an item it doesn’t mean that they might not want to do further business with you. They may still wish to purchase from your site in the future. Making the refund process difficult could lose future business potential whereas if you act quickly and courteously, you might be able to win your customer back.
Keeping it simple will also help to avoid chargebacks to credit card companies which you want to avoid at all costs.
2. Gather information about the return.
Requiring customers to give information as to why they are returning an item is always a good idea for an online business. The information you receive could highlight problems with an item, which may help in preventing future returns.
Also, if this is an original product that you create yourself this information can help in making further improvements to that item and ensure more satisfied customers in the future.
3. Place the guarantee for all customers to see.
A guarantee is a positive thing for your business and it is reassuring to potential customers, so don’t hide it. Display it with pride. Let visitors see that you are proud of the items you sale and because of that, you stand behind their quality.
Find out what customers think about your website, business or product. There are many great tools out there to put surveys on your website.
Ask questions such as:
- Overall, how satisfied are you with this website?
- What, if anything, do you find frustrating or unappealing about this website?
- What is your main reason for visiting this website today?
- Did you successfully complete your main reason for visiting this website today?
Can you see how valuable information like that would be as a website owner? You could use it to create the perfect online buying experience for your customers.
13. Events Calendar
This can relate to your business or industry. If you are an artist you can feature dates where and when your art will be displayed or if you are a musician where your next performance will be.
14. ‘Search my website’ feature
Quite often some people will visitor your website and may not exactly know what they want. However, if you include a search function on your site they can look for it very easily.
Just like search engines, this feature will allow your visitors to type in a word or phrase and then search for it on your site. It’s like having a mini search engine, only instead of searching the world wide web it just searches information on your website and points your visitors in the right direction.
Privacy is still a major issue for many online customers. They have concerns about how their information is going to be used and sometimes this can be an obstacle that prevents them from making a purchase. The
Internet shopping experience is built on trust and privacy contributes to the trust.
16. Site map
A site map shows visitors how your site is laid out and which sections are where.
Using sitemaps has many benefits, not only for easier navigation you’re your customers but it helps your site to be found in the search engines.
Sitemaps inform search engines immediately about any changes that you have made on your site.
Obviously you cannot expect that search engines will rush right away to index your changed pages but they will have a positive effect and the changes will be indexed much faster, compared to when you don’t have a sitemap.
17. Copyright information
You’ve probably noticed phrases like “All Rights Reserved” or “Copyright 2013,” or perhaps the copyright symbol © and a date at the bottom of a website.
All websites and their content are inherently copyrighted, provided they are original works. Whether you decide to complete copyright registration for your website is your choice.
If the content of your website is valuable to you, financially or otherwise, or if you feel you need to protect your website and its contents for legal reasons, then taking a few minutes to register the copyright to your website is probably worthwhile.
On a links page you can place links to manufacturers of your products, trade associations or complimentary services. The advantage to this is when you place links to other businesses, you can request they do the same for you. This will not only bring you more visitors but could improve your search engine ranking.
19. Media information
Include any information, articles, and photos of your products, staff that have appeared in the media, print, TV, radio or Internet.
21. Online store
An online store allows you to sell products directly on the Internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if it is 3am on a Sunday morning.
When building an online store it is important to keep these points in mind:
- Make sure that when your visitors arrive at your store it is easy for them to navigate and they know exactly what to do.
- The actual process of placing an order must be simple.
- Make sure you accept common and convenient methods of payment
Continually test your store so that you understand and can improve your customers shopping experience.
What is a blog? A blog is an online journal that is available on the Internet. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger”.
Blogs are typically updated daily or weekly using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog.
Blogs are a perfect marketing tool because they help with:
- Communicating with your customers. They provide a way for you to communicate directly with your customers. It is also a two-way communication because after your post a message, readers can post their responses to it underneath.
- Search engine marketing.
- Blogs give you an increased presence on search engines like Google.
- Stay ahead of your competition
- Not all businesses in your industry might keep a blog so it will set your business apart in your field when you post your expertise and knowledge.
- Media and public relations
- Blogs are excellent PR tools. You can post your media releases and articles and have them picked up by the media.
23. Photo gallery
Even if you do not want to sell your products online, you might still wish to showcase your goods or services in a special photo gallery. Show how your products and services are being used by your customers.
Don’t give your customers a reason to visit your competitor’s website and provide them with all the information they may possibly need or want.
Talk to us – we make it easy
We realize how daunting it can be for small to medium sized companies who want to take their business online.
That is why we are here to give as much support as possible and to share our expertise and experience.
We make sure that the whole procedure goes smoothly so that all you need to do is concentrate on running your bricks and mortar business.
If you are ready to expand your business and reach a whole new target audience online then talk to us.
We can look at all the options available to you and your budget and tailor make the right solution for you. We look forward to hearing from you.