So You Want to Build a Website: What Do You Need?
Updated: Mar 4
So what are the basic building blocks of a great website? Websites are pretty much a requirement these days. Without one, you have little to no credibility. There are plenty of free platforms, but what do you really need to put on there? Every business is different, so the answer varies, and there are options to get really creative. But I’ve outlined some of the standard elements to give you a starting point.
Before I get to those elements, I have to point out two critical things:
1) Focus all your content on the customer, not yourself. Yes, you’re telling them about your company, but remember to write in a way that answers their questions and addresses their desires.
2) CTA, CTA, CTA—add a call to action everywhere! At any point, your customer may read something that makes them want to buy from you. Make it easy for them by having a button nearby saying “buy now!” or “Schedule a Consultation.”
Every website has a homepage. It’s what you arrive at when you type in www.whateveryourwebsiteis.com. Some websites only have a homepage, with content descending ever downward. Users scroll to see all the info, and that works just fine for some businesses. But most websites have multiple pages. Regardless of structure, homepages need certain elements to be useful to visitors.
1. Above the Fold: This a term referring to the top of your homepage, the first thing a visitor sees when they arrive. This makes it extremely important. Choose an attractive, high definition image or video. There should be very little text, and it should give a taste of what’s on the rest of the site (site menus serve do this well). The job of this section is to make the visitor want to explore.
2. What We Do Statement: Right below the “above the fold” section, add a simple statement outlining what products or services you provide. Specify who your target audience adds clarity. Just don’t get too complex or long-winded with this, otherwise people will bounce (leave right away without engaging).
3. Why Us Section: Other companies provide the same product or service you do. So why should a visitor buy from you? Establish trust and credibility with some high-level points of why you’re good
at what you do. Many companies will add icons here with a bullet point. You can also add specialties or specific expertise.
4. Products and Services Section: You’ve hinted at this in the What We Do statement, but here you can visually indicate some specific products or services you provide. Top-notch images with a short description work well here. You can make the pictures clickable with a link to individual product pages that provide detailed information.
5. Testimonials Section: Testimonials are another way to establish credibility and trust. Showing that others have actually bought from you signals safety. Just don’t go crazy. 1-3 testimonials works well. Too many just clutter up your site. But don’t worry—you can sprinkle more over other pages.
6. Social Media buttons: Nearly everyone uses some social media platform. Give visitors a way to follow your company for deals, events, etc.
Product and Service Pages
Product and service pages are a place for visitors to go if they’ve seen your homepage and want to find out more. If someone wants details, that means they’re interested in buying (yay!). Gratify their curiosity with helpful information.
1. What We Do Statement: The intent here is like the one on the homepage, but specific to that product or service. Remember to keep it short and address the benefits to your potential customers.
2. Description: What questions do people usually ask, or what do you assume they would want to know? This section should provide all the practical information people are looking for, like how your services are bundled, where and when your products are offered, how your product is made and what it’s made of, and how much it costs, for example.
3. Purchase links or instructions: Like I said—CTA, CTA, CTA! If you have an online purchase option, include a link to your shopping page, gallery, or catalog. If you sell only customized products and services (i.e. price varies), have a “Request a Quote” or “Book a Consultation” link.
About Us Page
Visitors often want to know more about you and your company. It helps them decide if they want to buy from you. The “Know-Like-Trust” principle applies here. Remember, you’re selling yourself and your company. This section shouldn’t be boring, vague, or impersonal.
1. Team Pictures: Putting a face to a name is key. For smaller companies, try to get pictures of everyone. For larger companies, stick to the executive team—just get those pictures on there.
2. Company Mission and/or Vision: Why do you do what you do? What’s important to you? How did you start the business? Framing this as a story is effective and engaging.
3. Why You’re Different: Differentiators should be weaved throughout your content, but here you can spell it out.
Contact Us Page
For heaven’s sake, give visitors a way to contact you.
1. Contact Form: Most websites have a contact form that visitors can fill in and submit, which then sends their contact info to you for follow-up. Just be sure to test the form yourself so you know it works.
2. Contact Information: Contact forms are ok, but some people don’t want to use them. There’s a bit of uncertainty that anyone will get back to them, and a desire for immediate gratification. Adding your direct contact information gives them another option. Chat is a popular tool that’s really taken off. It gives customers truly immediate access to you. Many website platforms have this built-in, with a way for you to respond from your phone, but only use this if you can respond quickly.
Websites don’t have to be complex. They can have one page and still be effective. It depends on your business goals and what you need the website to do. There are plenty of options I haven’t mentioned, like blogs, forums, portfolios, and more. Choose the elements that make the most sense for you.