A website is a statement of your brand’s image and personality. No two websites are exactly the same, nor should they be. However, most websites should have a few basic pages and elements that visitors expect to find; otherwise, they may create confusion or distrust.
There are three categories of web pages that a person can add to their website: essential, useful, and optional. The essential pages are Home, About, Services/Products/Prices, and Contact. These provide a prospective client with all the nuts and bolts they may need from any vendor, specifically who you, your company and/or team are, what you provide, how much your services/products cost, and how to get in touch with you. One common practice that many companies or entrepreneurs do is not adding prices on their online platforms. They prefer to have customers contact them directly. However, this is not a practice I would recommend, as most visitors simply do not have the time nor patience to contact every merchant/service provider out there and wait for a reply. Having at least a statement saying “prices starting at…” will put you in the lead of the race when it comes to your competition.
Most of the time, however, these pages are not enough to win a visitor over. You will usually need one or more of the useful pages too, such as Portfolio, Blog/News, FAQs, Policies, as well as Terms of Service/Terms and Conditions. These represent your chance to bring out your unique value proposition, answer any objections prospective clients may have, clarify your work process, and prove your authority in your field.
Lastly, optional pages are like a cherry on the top. These include Programs (e.g. referral/ambassador program, membership club, etc.), Resources (e.g. worksheets, templates, guides, recipes, etc.), Research, Careers, Intro Page (usually for artists/creatives), Log In, and Shop/Book/Reserve which also asks for another page like Cart/Calendar. Service providers may even have both a Shop and a Book page. On the first one they would sell digital products like online courses, and the other would allow users to make an appointment with them directly.
Now that we understand the three categories of web pages, let’s look into what essential pages should include, as these you truly can’t afford to mess up.
Home & About Pages
The most important elements on these pages are the CTAs (calls to action). In fact, these should show up frequently throughout the entire website. A call to action is a button or link that encourages the visitor to move forward in the customer journey. The CTA could ask the visitor to learn more about a service, subscribe to a newsletter, go to another webpage, download a resource, get in touch with you, make an appointment, or make a purchase.
Another important element to consider is the “above-the-fold” area, the top area which visitors would see as soon as they land on a page. Most often this includes a banner, with a quick slogan, and a CTA. The more attractive, clear, and intriguing this part is, the lower your bounce rate will be too.
All these elements apply to both the Home page and the About page, however, the latter is the place to truly and unapologetically toot your own horn. This is where you get the chance to beef up the information provided on the Home page. Anything that can give you additional credibility, attest to your experience and knowledge, and build rapport with prospects would go here. Now, don’t go adding irrelevant details just to fill up the page. Focus on answering the questions “how can I help my audience?”, “why me/my company?”, and “why would they care about my story/services/products?” Some information to include on this page could be your mission and vision, how you got started, behind-the-scenes stories and pictures, your team, who you serve, your values and philosophies, your business model, unique value proposition, goals, how far you’ve gotten, etc.
Depending on your business model, you may have one or more of these pages. This is where you would explain your work in more detail, get down to the nitty-gritty of specifications and steps, and truly clarify what clients/customers can expect from you or your company. You can also clarify your own expectations from your clients and add any disclaimers about quality, quantity, effectiveness, expectations, etc.
One good idea is to create packages for your services or products. Using sales funnels, pop-ups, or various plugins, you can upsell or cross-sell on this page as well. Promotions, bundles, discounts could be highlighted here, and again, don’t forget to be transparent about your prices. This will not only get more people to contact you, but it will also get you the right kind of clients while saving you the headache of dealing with customers who don’t realize or appreciate the value of your work.
The best part about a Contact page is that it only requires you to give the client at least ONE method to get in touch with you. Most often, you will just need a form where the user can input his/her name, email, and a message for you. Easy-peasy!
If you want to go above and beyond, you could add a video, a Google map and GPS location, pictures of your physical location/office, email, phone number, address and directions, names of customer service staff members, and links to your social media presence. You may even add a photo gallery pulling your social media posts onto the page, or a screening survey. For some niches, you may need to have users apply to work with you which would require you to collect additional information before getting in touch. This would be the place to do that as well.
Overall it’s tricky to always find the perfect balance of essential, useful, and optional elements to add to your website. So take the time to truly understand your target audience, their needs, as well as your own needs from a website before hitting that “Publish” button.