Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a fantastic website.
The best sites are like amazing salesmen, working 24/7 for your business. And who doesn’t want that? However, getting all the dynamic elements of a website to work together isn’t easy.
We are going to break down the basics every website needs page-by-page, step-by-step to show you exactly what you need, what you don’t, and how to pull it all together to create an unstoppable conversion machine.
A good website is built on a solid foundation of layout, messaging, content, and images. These are the necessary building blocks to have in place before creating the actual website.
How to Decide On A Website Layout
Close your eyes and envision your website.
What do you want it to look like overall?
The layout contributes to the overall success of the website. It helps to determine what it looks like, how easy the content is to read, and how user-friendly your website is when people visit your site.
A great layout will also encourage the visitor to view more pages on your website. This is where good navigation comes into play. When you combine a great layout with easy to follow navigation, you can help guide visitors to the exact pages you want them to land on and potentially create more leads and conversions.
The type of products and services you offer or what content you are producing can dictate how you actually place that information on the page. For example, if you have photos of a particular project, you may want the layout of that page to be a grid. If you have an e-commerce site, then boxes may be the best option to lay out your products because it makes the information easy to read and follow.
It’s a great idea to collaborate with your employees and web designer to narrow down what layout works best for your business.
What’s Your Website’s Message?
In order to be a successful business in today’s economy, you have to develop your brand in such a way that resonates with your target audience. Then, you have to convey this message on your website. You don’t want to just tell people what products or services you sell, but rather what your company’s philosophy and core values are as well the benefits they can gain from choosing your company.
Every website has two types of messaging – foreground and background. The foreground message is what you are actually saying and the background message is the other stuff they pick up.
For example – You are a carpet cleaning business in Louisville, KY and on your website you write about all the different services you provide – this is your foreground message. Are you a company that can be trusted? Will your employees connect with the customers? Do your core values match up with the core values of your target audience? All of these questions develop the background message.
It all boils down to what you want to say and how you want to say it. Think about your target audience and what values are important to them. Take some time to think through the impressions you want to project and what you want to happen in your visitor’s thoughts and emotions.
Why Website Content Is Important
Content is what gives your website its bulk.
When people come to your website, they are looking for a product, a service, or information. One way to provide this information is through relevant, valuable, and professional content. When you give visitors a clear and easy way to find what they are looking for, you have a great chance of increasing conversions.
There are different types of content you can use to target your audience, engage them, and persuade them to take action.
- Text – Having large quantities of articles or text on your site is not enough. In order to build trust and acquire more customers, the content has to be valuable, relevant, and professional. If your writing skills are not up to par, you can always hire a professional writer to help you write great content.
- Images – 65% of the world’s population are visual learners. This means you will have a greater chance of grabbing and keeping the attention of your visitors if you have visual content on your website. We go more in depth about the importance of images in the next section.
- Videos – In today’s society, people have a short attention span. They are turning to videos to get the information they need quicker. When you include a video on your website, you are creating a great user experience and building a strong connection between the viewer and your brand. Use custom videos to showcase your product/service and introduce the people behind the company.
- Animation – This refers to anything on your website that moves or transitions, like buttons or pop-up boxes. They can be used to add visual interest, act as a response to something the visitor does, or act as a notification when an action is required. Be cautious not to overuse animations that can be distracting or take away from what the goal of the page is.
Make yourself stand out from your competitors. When you combine great content with Search Engine Optimization, you have a higher chance of gaining new customers and keeping them interested in your brand.
Why Use Images On A Website?
People are visual creatures. As such, images are a major component to any website. People like to see your company before they read your content. Anytime you use your own images, they need to be large, beautifully edited and clear, and ready for use on a website.
The basic elements of website photography include:
- Logo: This should be a no-brainer. You need a big, beautiful, high-resolution logo that you are proud of. If you have multiple versions of your logo, include them. They can be used throughout the website to generate recognition.
- Headshots: Headshots are a great way to make your company more personable and show your customers who you are, as an owner and as a team. Get creative with the headshots to showcase the personality of your team.
- Product and services photos: This may include marketing photography, special events, photos of products, assembly, or other areas of your business that are worth showing off.
- Stock images: Professional “custom” images are always the better option when including images on your site. But if you do not have original images, stock photos give a wonderful opportunity to find an image that fits your company perfectly. If you’re comfortable using stock images, there are many options including professional, staged, and candid images.
Gather all the images that you’d like included anywhere on the website. This will likely be several dozen photos – the more the merrier.
Working on your photos early simplifies the process. It’s always easier to choose between several photos than trying to arrange a photo shoot at the last minute to get a decent image for your homepage.
Must-Have Pages on Your Website
Once you have your digital outline and design, you’re ready to create the real juicy parts of your website.
Every website will have between 5-6 basic types of pages: a homepage, services page, how it works page, FAQ page, about and contact pages. Each page should be carefully crafted with unique content, easy-to-follow design, and compelling images.
This is your permanent first impression. It typically ranks the highest, which means content and design are critical, making it the most visited page on your site.
No pressure, right?
Crafting your homepage to include all the necessary components without overwhelming the consumer is no easy feat. Luckily, we’re the professionals in Louisville, KY.
1. Answers: Your homepage should deliver immediate answers. What are your office hours? Where are you located? What types of products/services do you offer? Consumers want to find what they are looking for and find it quickly. If they can’t find what they need in the first 10 seconds, they are gone.
2. Hero image: This is the first image visitors see when they come to your site. It needs to represent your company in a positive way. What image do you want people to see when they open your virtual door?
For example: If you sell car parts, you could choose a shot from under the hood or a glamour shot of a really cool car? Maybe you want to feature a mechanic? Or highlight the garage? The choice is yours.
3. “You Statement”: A You Statement typically addresses a pain point that your customers commonly have and how you can solve it for them. Take this chance to show your consumers how you provide better service than your competitors.
For example, if you’re a cable installer who always shows up on time, your You Statement could be something like: “No more 12-hour windows. We show up on time, every time.” It addresses a common frustration and gives your solution, giving your customers a reason to trust you.
4. Services: Keep it simple. List your services clearly to show your visitors what it is you actually do and what problems you can solve for them. Use clear text along with graphics to walk people through the process.
5. How It Works: Do you have services that can not be summarized in just a few words? In this case, a “How It Works” section can briefly describe your services to give visitors a quick glance of your services and how the whole process works.
For example, if you have a three-step process, you would introduce it with a short sentence, list your three steps, and, if needed, include a button that links to a separate “How It Works” page with more detailed information.
6. Why Us: This is your time to sell yourself. Highlight your accreditations, certifications, qualifications etc.
What makes you different? Why should your visitors trust you? Answer these questions clearly and confidently.
7. Testimonials. Consumers today rely heavily on the reviews and actions of others. Or in other words, social proof. Use your most positive testimonial on your homepage to generate trust. Throughout the website, testimonials can be used in several places as a powerful influence, specifically at purchase points.
8. Special Offers: If you have free shipping, free estimates, or discounts, highlight this on your homepage. Special offers incentivize your visitors to make a purchase or pick up the phone.
9. Email Signup: This should always be included on your homepage to build your email list. To get the most out of your site, it’s smart to pair this with your special offers. For example, “sign up for our email list for exclusive deals!” By capitalizing on this, you can target all the email addresses you receive with email marketing campaigns.
10. The Call To Action (CTA): You’re building this website for a reason. What’s that reason?
What action do you want people to take? Do you want people to call, sign up for an email list, place an order? This is where you use a statement that is designed to get an immediate response from the person reading it combined with a large, attention-grabbing button.
11. Footer: The footer of your website is an area at the bottom of the site that contains information that is common to all of the pages. It can be used to include important links to contact details, legal information, links to other pages, etc. so visitors can easily navigate to the information they need.
It is also a great place to display social media links, copyright notices, a CTA for an email/newsletter list, and team information.
Your service pages give you the opportunity to explain what you offer and what makes you stand out from your competition. One of the most important parts of your services page(s) is to help your customers see the value in what you’re selling and how you can solve and prevent their problems.
Relevant, Valuable Content: A list of services is great, but it’s not informative or persuasive. You need to describe your services, answer the questions your consumers have, and give them the details they want. It’s important to educate the customer and present yourself as the authority in your industry. If you’re not a wordsmith, we have writers on staff to create unique content specifically for you.
We always say how important content is, and this is where it really shows. With relevant, valuable content, and Search Engine Optimization efforts, these pages can potentially gain higher rankings in Google.
Address pricing: Some companies don’t like to include pricing details on the website. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but we always suggest addressing it. Be open, honest, and make pricing information easy to find. If you’re worried about scaring someone away with your price tag, then it’s a great idea to discuss the different elements. If your pricing is complicated, explain that!
Images: It’s important to only use images that are relevant and consistent with your brand. When used correctly, images can help customers understand your product or service better. They can also be used to break up large amounts of text to make your content easier to read. One important thing to remember is that not every image has to be a photograph. The use of graphs or charts is a great way to explain the value your products/services can bring to the customer.
CTAs: As mentioned previously in the homepage section, a CTA, or call-to-action, is how you tell visitors what to do next. Do you want them to ask for a quote? Sign up for an email list?
If you don’t guide visitors to what the next step is, they could get frustrated and leave your site.
HOW IT WORKS
People don’t like surprises. Use this opportunity to be very detailed in what you offer and how it works. No detail is too small here. A “How It Works” section lays out your process step-by-step so the customer knows exactly what will happen in each step of the process.
Informed customers are the best customers. The more information you put on your website, the fewer questions you have to take time out of your work day to answer to convert that sale. Your website does it for you!
A FAQ page can be a great resource for customers. This page can answer many of the questions a customer may have without them having to call and ask someone. Be upfront and honest. Give thorough and easy to understand answers. Here, you can control the conversation. This saves you time by not having to answer a million questions each day, and demonstrates how helpful you are to your customers.
Don’t glaze over this page with cheesy content or boring mugshots. More often than not, this often-overlooked page will actually convince customers to give you their business. People buy from those they know, like, and trust. The about page does exactly that.
By the time a consumer makes it to the about page, they already have a good idea of what you do. Now, they want to know WHO you are and WHY do you do what you do. This can be a difficult page to write, as most people aren’t good at talking about themselves. Consider these questions to get you started:
- When did you start your business?
- Why did you start your business?
- What are your core values?
- What is your mission statement?
- What makes your company different from your competitors?
This is usually a fairly simple page that tells your customers how to find you. However, don’t take the contact page too lightly. Although it’s simple, it holds critical importance. Your name, address, phone number, and email address need to stay consistent because they affect your local directories. Local directories allow potential customers to find you all over the web, and potentially can lead people back to your website. The more accurate your contact information is, the better off you will be.
- Contact form: A contact form is customizable with all the fields you would like included to get answers questions you’d like to know, and gives you emails to add to your email list.
- Social links: It’s a great idea to link your customers to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms you are on. These social links legitimize your business and give you more credibility. If you don’t have a social presence, you can build one yourself or we can help you build one. Just don’t get left behind.
Company websites are all about keeping up with consumer expectations. Times change fast, and you need a website that will keep up. By including the essential elements described in this checklist – layout, message, content, images, and must-have pages, you will have a website that stands a much greater chance of gaining new customers and turning more leads into conversions.
Because of the way consumers research, judge, and select companies and products, the importance of having a great website has never been higher. As the bar continues to raise, partner with a marketing firm that can rise to the challenge.