What's the purpose of your website?

Before rolling up your sleeves to start designing your website, it's important to take some time to plan the higher-level view of your website. Understanding in advance how your website will support your business, whom it's intended to serve, and what actions you want website visitors to take will inform your website's design and content.

Start by answering these questions about your business

KerryAThompson blog: What is your website’s purpose?

Most of my website clients are people who are creating a new website or whose old website is so outdated they are basically starting from scratch. I send out a questionnaire to pull together both the ideas and the logistics of what will be needed.

Here are some of the questions I ask new clients at this high-level planning stage:

1. What does your business do?

2. Why do you need a website?

3. Who are your ideal customers? Provide as much detail as possible.

Age __________________

Gender ________________

Location (such as Urban vs. Rural or State/Country) _________________________________

Marital Status _______________________

Profession ___________________________________

Level of Education ____________________________________

Hobbies or Interests _____________________________________________________

4. What are the top three goals you have for the next year for your business?

a.

b.

c.

Example answers

If you are a Reiki practitioner planning a new website for your service-based business, you might give these answers.

1. What does your business do?

My Reiki practice introduces people in my area to the benefits of Reiki and helps them feel calmer and more relaxed.

2. Why do you need a website?

I need a website to make it easier for people to find me to book me for Reiki sessions. I also need a website so potential clients get the information and assurance they need to know that I'm the Reiki practitioner they want to see.

3. Who are your ideal customers?

Age: 30 - 55

Gender: Female

Location: Suburban

Marital Status: Any

Profession: Service-based, medical field, social services, or education

Level of Education: High school or higher

Hobbies or Interests: Yoga, Meditation, Music, Reading

4. What are the top three goals you have for the next year for your business?

a. Create a website.

b. Be booked for 5 hours of appointments a week.

c. Find one new client a month.

These answers form the foundation of your website's design

With these answers, we begin to see what types of information the website needs and the audience you are creating the website for. As you design your site, you'll keep this audience in mind to make sure you choose colors, images, and words that will appeal to them.

Given the answers from the Reiki practitioner above, we now know that the website will need to appeal to women who are working in a service-based field, who have other self-care types of interests. We also know that there will need to be some explanation of what Reiki can do to help them with stress or other problems associated with this age group. To help potential clients feel at ease, the website will also need to describe the Reiki practitioner's experience and qualifications and should include testimonials from clients. The website may have some incentives for people to learn more, so they will eventually book an appointment. Those incentives could include being added to a mailing list, downloading an information sheet, using a first-time client discount, requesting a phone consultation, or booking a mini-session.

You can always change your mind

As you become more experienced or your business matures, you may realize that some of your initial answers were incorrect or are now outdated. The benefit of a do-it-yourself website on Squarespace or Weebly is that you can give new answers at any time and then refresh your website with new content to address the latest ideas.

Use these answers to decide how many website pages you need

A website is a collection of pages, organized around a Home page. One website page is all the information you can see on one screen as far as you can scroll down. If you click something that brings up a different screen of information, you've navigated to a different page. Websites vary widely in the number of pages they have. A typical service-based business run by one person has about 7–10 pages, but I've seen such websites have as many as 50 or more pages because of the number of services or extra information that the owner wanted to provide. A product-based business usually has more pages than a service-based business because it needs to display and sell all the products available.

Every website needs these three pages

Home page

Every website must have one page designated as the Home page and that page should give enough of an inviting summary of what you do so visitors decide to explore other pages on your site. It should also include a clear call to action, the next step you want a new visitor to take.

About page

You should also have an About page that describes and shows who you are and gives information about your background and qualifications.

Contact form

A Contact form gives people a quick way to send you a message to ask a question or request a call back.

Your website's purpose determines how many other pages are needed

Service-based businesses usually have one or more pages that describe the services they offer and how much they cost. They might also have appointment booking forms, an events calendar, Frequently Asked Questions, a mailing list signup form, and testimonials.

Product-based businesses usually have an online catalog of multiple pages describing the products that are for sale and how much they cost. They might also have a mailing list signup, an events calendar, temporary sales pages, and product reviews.

What kinds of extra pages you add should reflect the goals for your business and the kinds of clients you are hoping to attract.

Use these answers to decide on a call to action

In the marketing world, a call to action is the action you want someone to take after they've seen your ad, your website, your email, or your brochure. Most people don’t immediately make a purchase or book an appointment if they're new to your website, so a website call to action generally involves less risk and is a step towards someone getting to know you better. For a service-based business, a call to action might be subscribing to a mailing list to get a giveaway item, booking a consultation, liking you on social media, or coming to see you speak at a local event. For a product-based business, a call to action might be reading a blog post about your new product, liking you on social media, subscribing to a mailing list to get a first-time purchase discount, or attending an event where you'll be selling your products.

Your website should tell people three things

KerryAThompson blog: Winning website content

While the Home page gives the first impression for your site, all the pages on your website work together to build a consistent, informative message about what you do and how it will help your potential client. It also gives visitors something rewarding to do next that has the benefit of helping you build trust and excitement that will in time lead to gaining their business.

Your website needs to tell people:

  • This is what I've got

  • This is what it will do for you

  • This is what you should do next

A website that is clear, consistent, and easy to understand is more appealing to new visitors than one that is packed with too much information. Knowing your website's purpose and keeping it in mind as you design and update your site gives you a guiding light to keep you on course with the content you provide and keeps your website streamlined to give visitors an enjoyable experience, leaving them excited about coming back to visit your website again.


Kerry A. Thompson

I offer stress-free design and writing help to get your website launched or updated on Squarespace and Weebly. If you’re struggling to get your website going for your new business or passion project, see the Services page for the types of help I offer and then take me up on a free 30-minute no-obligation consultation. I’d love to hear from you. - Kerry