What is a successful website?
Before answering the question, “what is a successful website”, you need to ask the question, “by what standard will I measure my website’s success?”
Most people think that a successful website is simply a website that looks nice (good graphics, the right colors, the right layout, etc.). Though a nice look and feel is important, it’s not crucial. There are several websites that millions of people use, that aren’t extremely impressive in their design. For example: Facebook, Google, and Craigslist don’t have mind blowing graphics in their design, but they are successful because they accomplish specific results.
What is its purpose?
Even though a nice eye-catching design is important, what’s even more important is that your website is bringing you results. In order for you to know if your website is bringing you results, you need to ask what results it should be bringing you. Questions you need to consider before you create a website:
- 1) What do I want my website to do? (What purpose should it serve?)
- 2) What do I want my website’s visitors to do? (What actions should they perform)
- 3) My website will be successful when ______________________ (fill in the blank)
It’s important to ask these questions because it reminds you that your website serves a purpose. A website is supposed to accomplish something for you. Maybe your website’s purpose is to get people to call your office. Maybe its purpose is to get people to buy something online. Maybe its purpose is to get people to subscribe to something. Answers to the above questions will look different for every company, but every company’s website SHOULD serve a purpose.
Once you know your website’s purpose, build from there
When you have the answers to these questions, you are ready to start brainstorming about how your website should be built, because EVERY PAGE will be designed around these answers.
If your website’s purpose is to sell products, and the success of your website will be gauged on the basis of how many products are sold, then every page of your website should be strategically built to get people to buy products online. You won’t need to focus on a lot of flashy animation, or a ton of text… you will need to focus on “what will help my visitors buy something online?” If your website’s purpose is to inform people about a specific topic, and the success of your website will be gauged on the basis of how many people are properly informed, then your website should be strategically built to make sure people read the content that you want them to. In this case, your site will more than likely have a lot of content; therefore it’s important to think about how your website should be laid out so that viewers can easily find the right content they are looking for.
How many pages should I have?
The question all web design companies ask when figuring out a bid for your project is “how many pages do you want?”… They usually ask this assuming that you already know. It’s important to know the difference between main navigation pages, and sub-pages. Main navigation pages are the pages you can see on the page-navigation menu (usually at the top of the website).
Sub-pages are pages that are on your site, but not visible from the main navigation menu. An example would be drop down menus.
Many people confuse the main navigation pages as the ONLY pages, and don’t take into consideration how many sub-pages they need. So when thinking about how many pages your site should have, keep in mind any sub-pages you may need.
So, the question again is, “how many pages should my site have?” The short answer is, “it depends”. You have to go back to the question – what is your website’s purpose? How many pages will it take to best accomplish this purpose? For some businesses, they can get away with 5 pages. Other businesses require dozens of pages and sub-pages. It may be best to sit with a web-design consultant who can help you determine how many pages your site should have in order to accomplish its purpose.
Most web design companies that offer a flat rate on web design services start their service menu with a 5 page informational website. That’s because every website has 5 basic pages that have to be there – it’s the unspoken rule.
The 5 standard pages are:
- Home page
- About us
Create a Site Map
A helpful visual exercise to figure out how many pages you should have is to create a site map. It’s kind of like mind-mapping or brainstorming. Just sit down make a list of all of the pages you think you would need. If you only need the 5 standard pages listed above, your site map could look like this:
Some of those pages, however, may have sub-pages. For example, on the “About” page, you may want a “meet the owner” subpage. The “Services” page might require three options for three different services, such as “Demolition”, “Commercial Construction” and “Residential Construction”. In that case, your site map could look like this:
- Meet the Owner
- Residential Construction
Creating a site map will help you get a good idea of how long your site could take to get setup, as well as how much it will cost.
What content should these pages include?
“So… Once I figure out how many pages I should have, how do I figure out what content should go on those pages?” Again, the answer depends on your purpose, but here is a general guide that is pretty much universal:
The Home Page is what will give your customers their first impression of your business. Your Home Page should include something eye catching, attention grabbing, sweet and to the point… and more importantly, something to get them to want to explore your site a little more.
It should not have too much text that will scare off your customers (no long running paragraphs).
Examples of content that can be on your home page:
- Images of the work you do
- Pictures of your office or building
- Links to other areas of your site
- A brief mission statement
- Your company logo
This is the page that customer can go to if they want to learn more about your company. This is where you should add a lot of text, but make sure not to have too much text without good images.
Examples of content that can be on your About Page:
This is the straight forward explanation of the products and/or services you offer, without giving a lot of details including pricing (that can be saved for the “Services” page). Make sure to include your location, hours of operation, and other important information about your company.
This is the overarching purpose of your business. This tells your customers why you do what you do.
About the Staff
For family owned businesses, or small local businesses that want to add a personal touch to their website, it’s good to include a short bio of the owner or founder, including a picture. For larger corporations, it’s good to have a short bio of the key people involved
This is where your site should showcase your products and/or services. Make sure to include as much information that your customers need to see in order to give you a call, including LOTS of pictures if possible. If you don’t mind giving pricing on your website, this is the page to do it.
This is usually a basic contact form wherein your customer can leave their contact information, such as Name, phone number and Email. However, not enough businesses take advantage of the second function of a contact page – which is to qualify prospects before you meet them. Some clients like to add certain qualifying questions such as “are you a homeowner” or “do you currently have this type of service” to their contact form so that when they receive emails from their website, they not only know who is contacting them, but what demographics they fall under.
So in summary, a successful website is one that accomplishes a specific purpose for you; therefore you must first determine what that purpose is. Once you have defined your website’s purpose, build from there – keeping in mind that every page should be geared toward fulfilling that purpose. Create a site map and draft the content that will help your website fulfill its purpose.
For questions or assistance contact Butler Web and Design at (559)797-3414 or email Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org