In this day and age, a website is a necessity for most businesses, small and large. It’s your shop window to customers and a way to tell the world about your brand. It should never be done in a rush, or seen as an afterthought – it’s often where people will have their first interaction with you, so make sure it’s professional and well designed.
But how do you decide what to have on a business website? If you’re just starting out, planning this and then creating the content can be a daunting task. Below is a list of the essential building blocks you need, along with some tips for content.
This is likely to be the first thing visitors see, so you need to get the look and feel correct straight away. Don’t try to be mysterious – it should be clear immediately what your business is about. People tend to click away from websites in a matter of seconds if they feel it doesn’t meet their needs.
Consistency of branding is also very important. Things like the font, color scheme, and type of imagery need to match up across the site – and the homepage is what they take their cue from.
Make sure it is super easy for people to get from the homepage to other parts of the website. There should be either be clearly labeled buttons across the top, or a ‘hamburger icon – a button with three horizontal lines that lists all of the other sections when you click it.
This is your opportunity to state your values, history, and Unique Selling Point. Many people will go straight to this page to get a better idea of your business.
Be as specific as possible. Tell people exactly when you were founded, what you do, and what sets you apart from the competition.
In terms of your language, it should represent the personality of the business. Are you corporate or quirky? Either way, this should be reflected in the way you are telling your story.
Imagine you are speaking to your target customer. In fact, if you have a very specific customer base, you can even mention this. For example: “we make protective equipment for factories.”
You may also wish to have a sub-section page that lists all of the key people within your business, especially the leadership team. Make sure you have a professional headshot for each person, with a short biography of them.
Products and services
This is the meat of your business. It’s where you have the solutions to all of your customers’ problems.
If you have more than one main product or service, create a separate page for each one. Not only does this enhance the size of your business, but it gives you enough space to write about each one.
If you have a product-based business, then you will need images of what you’re selling. If it’s a service that you provide, then it becomes even more important to provide detail within the copy, but you can still have some visuals or stock imagery.
Remember though, you’re not just providing a list of specs. You need to sell the end result. Customers want to know what they will achieve by using you, so paint the picture for them. What problem are you solving and how?
You can spend all the time and money you want on fancy posters and adverts – but at the end of the day, there is nothing more powerful than a real-life testimonial. People buy from people, and a recommendation from a fellow customer can be extremely persuasive.
That’s why so many businesses have a dedicated page for this on their website, so future customers can see what previous ones think. The fact that these are impartial people with no links to your business gives you real credibility and portrays you as a trusted brand.
Ask customers for feedback after each purchase and get their permission to feature this on your website. You should have at least three glowing testimonials on your page. Make sure they are specific in terms of describing how your product or service helped them. Perhaps you can even get some customers to record a video testimonial, to give it an extra sense of personalization.
You may also want to link your website to an external ratings provider such as Feefo or Trustpilot. The reviews and ratings from those websites will feed onto yours. This gives you an added level of credibility. However, remember that you will not have control over what gets pulled through from the external site. Therefore you need to be sure there won’t be many negative reviews.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may find that you tend to get a lot of similar questions from customers. If so, an FAQ page is a handy way to list these and provide the answers. Not only does it make life easier for your customers, who don’t need to get in contact with you, but it also takes a huge burden away from your customer service team
This is also a page where you can subtly show what sets you apart from your competitors. Weave in a question or two that allows you to highlight the key benefits of your product or service that other businesses don’t have.
You need to make it as easy as possible for people to get in touch with you. Have a page that shows where all of your offices are – ideally with a link to the location on a map – and then have the phone number for each one. If you have one specific office which is your main headquarters, make sure this is highlighted.
There may be a specific email address you want people to send queries to. If this is the case, then this should be written very clearly and near the top of the page.
Finally, use this page to link to your social media platforms. This is another essential part of running a modern business, and the more traffic you can drive to your social channels, the better. If you can, have your social media links running across the bottom of all the pages. This increases the chances of people going there and following you.
Terms and Conditions
Although rarely read by customers, it’s still important to include this page. Essentially, it sets out the rules for using the website. Make sure you include a notice about copyrights and trademarks, as well as which country and/or state you operate from. This tells people which consumer laws you follow.
You can get a template for this page online, or ask a local attorney to draft one for you. In the grand scheme of sales and marketing, this isn’t a key page, but still worth paying attention to.
Much like the Terms and Conditions page, this is highly unlikely to be read by customers. But if you are gathering personal data about customers through the website – and in most cases, you will – then this is a legal requirement. It tells them how you gather, use, disclose, and manage customer data.
Again, you can find templates online, or get an attorney to draft one for you. Some businesses include a specific email address for data requests, so these aren’t being sent to a customer service inbox. This is a nice to have, but not essential.
While every business will have additional pages based on what they do, the pages above apply to pretty much all of them. Remember the main function of a business website is to raise awareness and drive sales. Getting the layout, wording, and imagery right will help you achieve these goals.