If you’ll remember, I used to write websites. All day long, in my little cubicle, I wrote home pages, services pages, contact pages and more for bakers, roofers, Reiki practitioners, septic tank cleaners, oilfield pipe insulators, tree surgeons–really any small business you can think of. It was a production environment and my fellow web writers and I all worked using the same “formula”. What I learned was that while very few websites end up being identical, each starts with the same basic setup, no matter the industry.
Home Page: The Smile of Your Website
In the past, there was a big focus on content-heavy home pages. I used to write 2-3 paragraphs for a home page and would try to include location information, services, keywords and a welcoming message. This was great for SEO, but eventually a different kind of design came en vogue.
Home pages today, especially the kind we make at Roundpeg, feature large images, which can be static or rotating. There’s usually a line or two of text over the picture and a small paragraph below the fold and icons for CTAs. The impact here is the photos and images, not the content, but it’s still important to provide a snappy, informative and welcoming paragraph. If you have something that differentiates you from other businesses, this is a good page to put it on. Any copy on your home page should make people want to click further inside your website. This isn’t the place to go in-depth; do an overview of products or services instead.
Also, remember that not everyone enters a website through the home page — your interior pages are just as important.
Services/Products Page: The Muscle of your Website
Services or products pages are where you make your sales, so make these pages good. They can be informative, persuasive or both. If you have products and services, you can combine them or separate them.
Services Page – If you have just a few services, an intro paragraph and some bullet points listing your offerings could suffice. Even better is to list out each service and provide a small description for each. If you offer a lot of services, it’s probably best to create a page for each so you can write a more in-depth description.
Products Page – If you have a lot of products, this page is more complicated. It can be a general description of your products, but other things customers expect to see on a product page include:
- Shipping details (if an e-commerce site)
Contact Page: The Ears of Your Website
The contact page is the easiest one you’ll write. A good contact page has your address, phone number, email and a map of your exact or general location. Adding a form on a contact page gives customers an easy way to submit a question within the page. Other things to include in the text on the contact page include business hours, preferred way to get in touch with you and if your location is hard to find, landmarks or directions.
Optional Body Parts, I Mean, Pages
Don’t let anyone tell you the more pages are better. That’s simply not true. Only create as many pages as you need, any more and you risk cluttering your website or having customers be overwhelmed and lost in the navigation. Other pages you can consider adding to your website if you need them are:
This is becoming less optional and more necessary. A blog is how you let Google, as well as your customers, know you are staying current and relevant in your industry. Fresh content in a blog is easy to share on social media, helps to bring interested people back to your site and can publicly present you as an authoritative voice in your industry.
I’m sorry to tell you this home service industries, but your customers, who are primarily women, don’t really care to see pictures of your trucks or equipment. If you have either of these things, you don’t need to make a gallery just for them. If you are some other industry that thrives on photos (salons, food service) or before and after images (carpet cleaners, builders), a gallery is an excellent addition to your site. Think of it this way, customers want to see the end result of your product or service, not the equipment or process you used to get there.
This is a tricky one. Testimonials are a great way for your customers to see what it’s like to do business with you. Services like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google already provide a(n allegedly unbiased) review for your customers. The problem is that you can’t control what people say if the reviews are on a website you do not manage. If it’s on your website, you have full control of what gets posted, but your customers may not believe that all those glowing reviews are true.
Calls to Action
I’m sneaking this one in here because it’s important. A call to action is not a page but something you should have on every page of your website. Calls to action can be an in-text link or a button on a page. Every page you write should end with your customer taking an action; it could be to contact you, to schedule an appointment or to order something. You want to make it as easy as possible to turn a reader into a customer. Make it easy for them–always include a call to action on your webpages.
Map it Out
Once you’ve decided on the pages you’ll include in your website, create a sitemap. (I typically use the outline function in a Word document to create a sitemap because it shows a simple hierarchy that makes sense to me; some people like to use Excel.) Order your pages by how you think a customer would move through your website. From there, you’ll fill in each page with content. Make sure to keep your website updated as your business grows, by adding and removing pages.
By keeping this basic outline in mind (home, services, contact), you can create a foundation for a really useful website.