Your website should be a one-stop-shop for everything you are. Users should be able to hop onto your site, and understand your brand personality and exactly what you do within a half minute.
Yep, that’s less than 30 seconds between potentially gaining and losing a customer! It’s a scary thought.
Reducing your business to a few succinct pages which will be held in someone’s hand, whilst getting across your brand’s spirit, as well as what you’re selling (not to mention your bio, blogs, shop...) feels overwhelming, to say the least.
Good thing we’re about to lay out our guide to approaching website planning... Panic over!
Website Personas, And Why They’re Important
Before attempting your website build, all paths should begin with personas.
Personas are fictitious characters which help you to discover who your target customers are. It helps to humanise them, allowing you to imagine who your website will be communicating with. Understanding this will help shape your design, content and navigation to suit the target person. It will help you create a place they want to be. Knowing your brand personas will also save you time later on by getting your website strategy right at the get-go.
Map It Out
Ok, so now you know who you’re talking to, the next step is to create a sitemap.
Sitemaps are frameworks which help visually outline the structure of a website. They illustrate how website navigation should flow and how content will exist within it. Sitemaps are the foundations of website building: the bricks of the house and the layout of the rooms. They provide peace of mind in the design stage - reassuring us that the site has been architectured right, so we can focus on picking the perfect wallpaper and furniture, without worrying whether the room has a door into it.
So we know our audience, we’ve got a vision for the website structure - now it’s time to flesh out the content of each page.
Every website has a homepage, this should clearly displaying what you do or sell. Visitors who come to your site are there for a reason, to learn more about what you do; a combination of pithy copy and considered images should summarise this speedily and succinctly, to make it easy for users to find the information they’re looking for.
If they don’t know what you do, they won’t know where to go, and your visitors will bounce.
Testimonials are a fantastic addition on your homepage, positioning you as a trustworthy expert in your field. For online customers, honest words from other people will give tangibility to your products or services.
Once your homepage has whet users’ appetites, there should be a clear route to other areas of your website, whether this is in the navigation or with links to other pages in your homepage content.
Having too many options on your website can be overwhelming for users and increase the amount of time it takes for them to make a decision. The result? You guessed it, they’re likely to drop off. Homepages are a crucial foot in the door.
Great - users have entered the house, now for the tour. Every website should have an about page. This is where customers can get to know you. Introduce yourself and your team, converse about what drives you forward and how you got here, illustrate where you started and where you’re going. Any trophies to display? About pages should be uniquely you, and your difference (USP) should be celebrated.
Portfolio And/Or Case Studies
Talking of celebrations, a portfolio and case study page is an important destination to display your past work and achievements. Online, visitors only witness a digital clone of your product or service. Examples of your work gives customers a flavour of your style and approach.
Peppering in quotes and testimonials builds trust to otherwise sceptical users by offering an affirmative outsider voice. It’s important to have high quality and relevant imagery on these pages, avoiding bad stock photos, to further add believability and tangibility to what you do.
A contact page puts your house on the map. Without it, your visitors may struggle to find you. The truth is, not every online user has the patience to dig around looking for contact information.
As well as having a dedicated page, we recommend putting a call to action contact button in the top right-hand corner of your website’s navigation bar. It’s good practice to also include contact information in the footer.
Make sure you include many ways for customers to contact you - phone, email, address or even a live chat - to make it easy for them to reach you.
If you sell something, you need a shop on your website. Online shopping has become a key income stream for businesses as it’s boomed in the past decade.
“77% of the UK population shop online and this figure is expected to rise to 93% in the next two years! ”
77% of the UK population shop online and this figure is expected to rise to 93% in the next two years! In fact, the UK has the highest e-commerce spend per capital in the world. Don’t miss out on this growth!
Shop pages have many layers: a landing page, individual product pages (perhaps with categories and filters if you have many products to make your site navigation easy), a checkout page, and a ‘my account’ area where customers can log in and manage their details and track their orders.
Shop pages include many easily forgotten elements: confirmation and shipping emails. Don’t forget to add branding to all touch points.
Although not necessary, a blog is a great addition to your website. It’s a place to showcase your expertise and speak to your audience more informally. With longer-form content, you can let your personality loose and showcase what’s going on behind the scenes.
As a result, blogs are a fantastic place to generate brand loyalty and user engagement. To top it off, fresh content keeps Google happy, so a regular blog post, perhaps fortnightly, will help keep your SEO rank healthy.
And There You Have It
...And those are the ingredients of a delicious website that attracts and informs the right visitors, takes them on a well-mapped stroll right to your house and dinner table, ready to eat the feast you’ve been cooking! Remember - presentation is important. An aesthetically pleasing, well-designed website is key to doing your business proud and making a lasting impression. Bon appetit.
All our templates come equipped with pre-built pages for all the ingredients to make your masterpiece. Ready for a new website? You’re just a few clicks away.