ask the expert | how to decide what your website needs

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Today we have a very helpful post from our website expert partner : Lucie Battaini from multimediART. she is answering a question i get asked all the time

How do you decide what you need within your website, how many pages, what features etc? I want a simple, fresh website thats easy to navigate... 

When you start a new business or update your website, it can be confusing to work out everything you need to organise and include on your website, especially when you need to be able to explain this to your web designer. A good way to decide what info you definitely need is to research similar businesses and check what pages their website has, what features do they have, what are the differences between them and your business? From here, you can decide what will help showcase your unique services.

The individual features will come down to the type of site you need. You may want a brochure website that is easy to build and provides basic information about your product and services. Perhaps you’re wanting to sell products or services from your website, in which case you’ll need a shopping cart. You may also want to consider whether you want to use your website to educate visitors, provide regular news and updates, offer a customer service or support centre or FAQ area, attract local business,  have a business blog, generate leads, provide further product info, and even perhaps sell advertising or make affiliate income.

To start you off, here are four pages that are essential for any website:

The Home Page

This is the most important page of your website. Your websites home, or index page, is the most important page to think about when first discussing your website design. This will be the first page that anyone sees about your business so you need to make it interesting. Offer a small bit of information about who you are and what you offer – do not give too much away, that is to come on other pages.

The home page should be interesting and catch the attention of your visitors,  and the best way to do that is add pictures and videos. If you sell products, then consider including good quality photos of some examples. It’s amazing what a difference can be made to even DIY photos by spending a little to have a graphic designer touch up your images, and it’s definitely worth doing to make a good first impression.

If you offer a service, then how about videos of the type of services that you offer? This will let people see your company at a glance. You may also think about making a video answering a common question that you get.  You can see an example in this video I made explaining how to resize images in photoshop. This can help you establish yourself as an expert in your area of business.

(click here to see the video if it is not displaying properly in your browser)

About Us Pages

Why should people choose you? You need to make it clear why a business should choose you and the best way to do that is through n About Us page. This page gives you the chance to go into detail about your experience as a service or product provider and the people that you have working for you. You may want to add testimonials, awards or qualifications to be able to prove this credibility.

Contact Us Page

Build on your trust factor with a contact page. This is another important page that is required on any website. The best way to build credibility is to show that you are real trustworthy business, and you can do this through offering your business address and telephone number. If you offer a local number, instead of a mobile, this also helps to build your customer’s trust. If you don’t want to use your home phone, think about investing in a VOIP line for a cheap second number.

You may also want to consider adding a map to your business location on this page, if you have a warehouse or bricks and mortor presence. This will make it easier for people to find you and is especially useful if you offer products. Maps are not for all businesses – if you work freelance or you offer services, people will not always need to know how to get to your location.

Selling Products Online

Make it as easy as possible for people to buy online. For businesses that sell products, an online shop is something to consider. Especially when starting up, a lot of businesses have a simple list of products with an email order form, or don’t have an automated checkout. Unfortunately this can lose you more sales than it makes you. There are thousands who now choose to shop online, and if you don’t make it quick and easy you can lose the impulse purchase to someone else.

If you offer a service, there are chances that an automated online shop is not for you,  however, that does not mean miss it out completely. Organise a quote form for your potential clients to fill out instead. This will help to personalise your prices for a person’s needs, and gather all the information required to quote up front, greatly reducing the extra communication and back-and-forth needed to give the potential client what they want.

By starting your website planning with these four crucial areas, you’ll be building a solid foundation and on your way to a successful website and business.

Lucie Battaini is the director and head designer at multimediART, an experienced web design and development company that has been in business for 10 years. Posessing the rare combination of design skills and programming knowledge, Lucie loves helping other small businesses realise their online potential and achieve their dreams. multimediARToffer services in web design & development, seo and social marketing, as well as other online marketing and promotion opportunities. Our designs have won awards, and we're proud of every site we create.