Content: what to put in your website
There are some simple rules for what to put in your website. Put simply, what is obvious to you may not be so to others. Think about the first things a newcomer to your business or organisation is likely to wish to know about it. Of course you should state plainly who you are and what you do, but what else?
We help you decide what information your visitors need and how your should organised it. This also influences how search engines decide whether you are trustworthy.
If you’re a high-street shop, a visitor may simply want to know your opening times, your location or your telephone number. If these are not easy to find they will leave, no matter how enticing your website.
A church should advertise its location and service times, a school should provide its address ahead of its Ofsted results, a restaurant should indicate opening times, a telephone number and booking button alongside the delightful menus. Think obvious.
Tell visitors what you do at a glance. Your brand name should be clear, your purpose unambiguous and design free from clutter.
Website home page
A good home page encapsulates your core message in an attractive, easy-to-read format. It inspires confidence that you can deliver on what you promise.
So keep it short. Make your USP (unique selling point) immediately clear to the visitor. Use links to guide your visitor to further reading. Draw your visitor on with a visible Call To Action (CTA). This can be a nice bright button saying “Book now!” or a “Read this!”.
Be also aware that the home page may not even be the first page your visitors land on. Your logo, strapline and contact details should appear on every page. If your logo and header image take up a lot of space on the home page, you may want to simplify your message there. Save the complex stuff for the inner pages.
About us — well what?
An About page is your chance to introduce the person or people behind the project. So how much should you say about yourself in your website content?
The answer will vary with the context. If you are a teacher offering courses at home, your location and interests will influence a client’s decision to choose you.
But imagine that you are a tailor designing gentlemen’s outfits. First-time clients may want to know where you trained and what type of person you design for. They won’t want to know where you live or what pets you own. A little information humanises you, and a good head shot helps build trust, but little more is needed.
If you have introduced yourself on the home page, a separate About page may be unnecessary.
Other important webpages
The content of other webpages will vary with the purpose of your website. If you are running courses, a page describing each one makes the information accessible to readers. If you are advertising a flat to rent, space to photographic details and basic information. A charity may need a page on how to donate, in addition to explanations of the charity’s work.
Display contact information prominently on every page, as an email link and a phone number in click-to-call format. Use a Contact Us page can be used to display a webform requesting specific information and a map showing your location. If neither of these is needed, you may not need a dedicated contact page.
State postage costs and delivery times clearly if you are selling physical products.
A Frequently Asked Questions page can deal with issues that have arisen in the past – make notes when they do! It can also clear up misconceptions that apply to your field. The FAQs can recap postage costs and opening times, even if you have mentioned them elsewhere.
If you offer extra services or products related to the main focus of the website, a Services page is a good place to explain these.
You can place testimonials on their own page or sprinkle them as quotes throughout the other pages.
A Terms and Conditions page is essential if you are selling products or require a deposit. What happens if an event or holiday is cancelled? How long does a client have to change their mind about a product, and how do they return it? In what circumstances will you give a full refund? Your T&Cs should make clear that you will respect your customers’ statutory rights when they buy from you.
T&Cs are also a good place to say what you will not put up with from customers. This can include late additions to long projects, orders for personal delivery in the wrong geographical area. You will add to the list as your business grows!
Internal links, outbound links and social media
The need for central navigation is obvious: visitors can’t move around your website content without it. Include links to other pages throughout the body text. These internal links direct readers and search engines to related information elsewhere on the website.
External links to suppliers, colleagues or inspirational contributors to your field are not only useful for visitors. They help demonstrate to search engines that you are a genuine player in your field.
If you are promoting your brand on social media, include links to these as icons on all your pages.
Images: logos and photos
We deal with this topic in more detail on our design page. Logos and images are essential, but search engines can index website content as text, not images. Use text should for your business name and strapline where possible, and always for headings and body text.
We were once asked to redesign a website that had become invisible to Google. Even when we searched on the business name and a small geographical area, the website did not appear. The answer lay in the code: it was made up of images! The headings and body text were made up of images placed next to each other to look like a website. Humans could read it, but the search engines couldn’t.
Unrelated businesses: one website or two?
We are sometimes asked to build a website promoting a business, and then to integrate a different business into the package. We can understand why: it’s cheaper than having two websites! But is it a good idea?
We believe that mixing unrelated projects dilutes the focus of a website and confusesreaders and search engines. Keyword research cannot be effective if it has to do too many jobs. A visitor may not take you seriously if part of your website is devoted to topics other than the one they found you on.
Instead of forcing together unrelated projects, speak to us about doing a deal on two or more websites.
The same applies to social media accounts linked to your business. Don’t use them for private comments or holiday snaps.
Website content organisation
Think about how your bread up complex information into pages. The way you organise and link these pages will determine how easily your visitors can digest your website content. There is no perfect formula because so much depends on your individual niche. Design trends play a part too. Some clients want all the information on a single page which visitors can easily scroll through on a mobile phone.
The main navigation can act as a guide to content as you write it. This helps break up the sometimes daunting task of filling pages!
The test of good organisation often only comes at the end, when a design scheme is put through its paces. Be prepared to change and reorganise: that is the point of the web. It is fluid and evolving, like a living organism.
Next steps to create your website
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