People have been asking me recently what they need to put on a new website. What pages do they need? What information do they need to include? It occurred to me that a website is like an old-fashioned bakery, like those I've seen in the North End section of Boston or in small European villages.
What your website must have
Here are the things that a bakery needs that your website also needs.
An address – That's your domain (www.yourbusiness.com), so people know where to find you.
A storefront – The first thing people see is the Welcome page (the Home page) of your website. It gives people the name of your business and shows them some of what you have to offer and encourages them to open the door and learn more.
Display cases and shelves – The pages that show and talk about all the kinds of products and services you have are the descriptive core of your website. In a bakery, if people are looking for cupcakes, they'll want to see the case that has the cupcakes. The products and services you have to offer and examples of your work should be organized into their own pages or in specific sections on a page, so people can find what they want to know quickly, with text and images that help them understand what you have to offer.
Certificates hanging on the wall – This is the About page that tells people who you are, why you love what you do, and what experience and credentials you have. This information gives potential customers assurance that you know what you are doing.
Business cards on the counter – Your website gives people a way to get in touch with you personally to take the next step of hiring you. This is usually done through a Contact form. Your business name, email, phone, and location should also appear on every page. If you have social media accounts, your Welcome page should contains links to those accounts too.
Extras that are nice to have
Here are a few extra items that are useful for websites.
Your neighbors who told you how great this bakery is – These are testimonials that you add to your website when people write nice things for you. Ask for recommendations; they are a powerful tool for bringing in new customers.
The baker who tells you what's new at the bakery – That's your blog, filled with ongoing newsworthy and helpful information that current and potential customers appreciate hearing about.
Your website checklist
So, in summary, your website needs:
A domain name
A Welcome page
Products and Services pages
An About page
A Contact form, contact information, and social media links
And when you're ready to expand your website, you can choose to add Testimonials and a Blog.
The good news is that you don't have to make this kind of website from scratch. If you use a do-it-yourself website builder like Squarespace or Weebly, you'll have a team of expert designers who have provided the basics of what you need. You add text and images to the pages to reflect your personal touches . . . like putting the icing and decorations on a cupcake that's already been baked. And if you would like help with making the icing and choosing decorations, that's where I can help.