What to put on your website will of course depend very much on what you’re planning to do with your website. There are a few ‘standard’ uses for a website:
- The Online Brochure – Essentially a digital version of the sort of brochure 15 years ago you may send out to prospective customers / clients. Containing general text and images (and maybe a few videos or audio files) related to promoting your business. The sort of website content that doesn’t need to be updated too often, but still gives a reasonable overview of what you / your company does.
- The Online Shop – A digital version of all a high street shop, or postal catalogue shop, whereby all your stock / services are arranged in a logical way by category / type, with search facilities built in, online payment options, instant stock levels linked into your main database, etc.
- The News Portal – Updated hourly / daily / weekly / whenever, with changes to your business and updates your customers / clients / followers may be interested in. Visitors can view the most recent news items, browse previous items, look back through the archives, etc. These services may also broadcast other items that may not be directly relevant to the broadcaster, but that may be of interest to the visitors (thus helping drive visitors to the website regularly).
- The members’ area / subscription based services – The sort websites often attributed to ‘adult’ services (although it’s also useful for many other business models too), ie monthly subscription gives unlimited access to various photos / videos / documents, that users can then view or download, or subscribe to updates and similar. A good way to maintain a regular revenue, if you can provide content that users for that sector are interested in.
- The link farm – An all too familiar site these days, whereby often ‘good’ domain names (purchased by domain name squatters and similar, or who brought up a popular website domain when it expired), who rather than having any useful content on, are simply a page of links, often computer generated (so not necessarily appropriate to the actual domain name), which link through to other websites who’ve paid to be on there (and who ‘pay per click’ for every user who travels through one of those links). Some ‘domain name registrars’ (ie GoDaddy) now use a link farm as their ‘free holding page’ when you buy a domain name through them at ‘x’ amount per year, and they then get paid for anyone who clicks on a link through their holding page, to competitor websites!
In general though, the following pages are normally a good guide to the basic minimum:
- Main Index Page / Homepage – This will normally be the ‘front atrium’ for visitors to your website. Don’t just put a glossy intro on there (that’s sooo 2003), but contain all the main basic information about your business/company/profession that will encourage users to go further into your website (and provide the links for them to do so). Not all users will come via this page though, so make sure the rest of your website has links back to the main parts too.
- Contact Us – a link to your main contact details (such as telephone number, postal mailing address, fax number, contact email address, online form). It’s REALLY important to put a contact link on every page of your website. You can never be sure when someone will decide they want to get in contact, and if you don’t make it easy for them, they may well go elsewhere.
- Sitemap – This is a simply coded page, that provides a text link to all the main parts of your website (normally to about two levels down). It used to be this would help search engines find there way around, and similarly if your navigation wasn’t as intuitive as it could be, this was a good way users could go to where they wanted, directly. There is a new sitemap.xml document however, that’s designed primarily for Google, that helps a lot more with Google finding it’s way to all your main web pages. (As you may see from the link, it’s a little different to normal html, but thankfully there are free programs out there now that should generate this all for you, especially if you have your website hosted with Parlour Design).
- About Us – If a new user visits your website but knows nothing about you, the ‘about us’ page or section should provide them with an overview, and reassurance that they wish to continue browsing through your website, and of course buying your products/services.
- Terms & Conditions – Get some professional legal advice on this one. In general, the basic terms and conditions about the use of your website / products / services should be linked to on each page (normally at the base of the page). But don’t just copy and paste someone else’s: firstly it’s illegal (breach of copyright), and secondly most of the terms and conditions I’ve read on SME websites (Small and Medium Enterprises) are actually invalid under UK law because of various unfair/unreasonable terms they include!