Our Formula for a Great Website
I don't mean to be too clickbait-y with this headline, but the truth is that there is no real secret recipe when it comes to making websites. Even within the same industry, no business is the same as any other, and there are no exact one-size-fits-all solutions. That being said, there are some general rules and trends that we've seen and learned from in our experience working on hundreds of client website projects over the years. So there's no magic solution, but there is a pretty good general formula that can help you know what pages and features need to be on your "must have" list.
We've compiled the most common page types and features into this list for you to review and check off. Take what you need and leave the rest!
This is the only page that every website has in common! Some websites are just the home page, and that's ok, too! This is where most people land first after clicking on a link to your site from social media or a keyword search. It's where your best-of-the-best content (copy + images) should live, and it should give people the 30,000ft overview of who you are, what you do, how you can help them and why they shouldn't click away immediately. Everyone needs this. Nonnegotiable.
Analytics always tell us that the About page on any given website is usually one of the most popular pages. People want to know who they are doing business with! Bonus points if you use the page to describe not just yourself/your business but how you solve your customer's problems.
Team / Staff
If it's more than just you holding down the fort, highlight your team or staff on your site so visitors can put faces to the people that they're most likely going to be interacting with. This page type is sometimes consolidated into an About page (above) for super small teams, but we like giving everyone some room to shine on a dedicated page if there are more than a two or three staff.
Unless you're going for the landing-page-as-website site, you need a dedicated contact page. It needs to feature the best way(s) people can connect with you, and that needs to be a method that you use and check frequently. If phone is your best medium and you never respond to emails, include your phone number and omit a form or vice versa. The best pages (and businesses) provide a few options to accommodate customers of different types.
Cheers to you if you're a multi-location business! If that's you, you need a page that helps people find the spot closest to them. It can have something like our multi-location maps feature (see section below) or just list out the addresses in a systematic way. This is also a helpful page type to use if you distribute your products to other retailers and would like to provide a way for customers to discover where they can check out your goods.
If a site visitor makes it past your home page, they're most likely going to be looking for a Services-type page soon. They want to know the details of what you're offering, if you have multiple packages to choose from, if there's a menu or a description of how you do what you do, etc. (Not to be confused with an online store - see features section, below - a Services page is typically more long-form in nature and may not offer an online shopping component.)
A Features page is a must for anyone who sells one signature service or product. This page is typically not an e-commerce page itself (but sometimes it is); it's more often a sales page that talks about the… features of your awesome service or product. Highlight what makes what you're selling so amazing and funnel those visitors towards checkout!
If you find yourself answering the same questions over and over, chances are your site would benefit greatly from having a FAQ page! Publish all the answers to those questions once and make your website work for you!
Gallery / Portfolio
Galleries aren't just for photographers (though if you're one of those, then obvs - you need this). Adding gallery or portfolio pages to your site is also a good idea if you're in real estate, beauty, fashion, food or arts, among other professions. Caveat: the pictures must be high res and your absolute best. No one wants to click through a 100-page slideshow of your iPhone pics.
Yes, your mom is going to still cut out and save whenever your name appears in the local paper, but there's a better way to show off all the press coverage your biz gets! Add a press page to your site to lend credibility, keep all your links organized and give your customers (and your mom) something modern to check out.
Reviews from past customers are great "social proof" that you really are as cool as you say you are. It's nice to pepper these throughout your site (on your home page or on sales pages, mainly) but if you've got a nice stack of reviews, compile them on a Testimonials page to give them a home. Bonus points for linking to where they can be third-party verified!
If you collect data of any type from website visitors, you NEED a privacy page! This includes simple things like name, address and phone number via a contact form. A privacy page lets people know what you do (and don't do) with their private information. Either get your lawyer to draft something for you or do a quick Google search for an online generator to help you come up with some standard privacy language.
Terms & Conditions
3-Tiered or Mega Menu
Have a lot of blog or shop categories and looking for a better way for visitors to discover them? Dying to have that super popular multiple row nav look that's so hot right now? This is for you. We can turn run-of-the-mill dropdown folders into beautiful, spacious mega menus (with graphics!) or help simplify your nav by breaking it up into multiple tiers by importance.
You've most likely encountered Expandable Content on a typical FAQ page. This style is commonly where you can "click for more" and have a paragraph expand underneath a heading. There are lots of different expanding techniques and strategies for helping visitors discover your content and this method is so much gentler on the eyes than putting long blocks of text on a page!
Help people find exactly what they're looking for with filtered or advanced search! A basic example of this works is on our Features Index page although this could be more complex with multiple search criteria, dropdown menus, or other layout types. Makes things more interactive than a list.
If these letters mean nothing to you, keep scrolling. Everyone else - you know that this is the lifeblood of any realtor's website. Connect your current, featured and past listings and plug into robust advanced features.
Blame Amazon Prime for making us all want instant gratification, but it's not really enough to have a contact form as the sole way to connect via web anymore. Meet customers where they are and install a Live Chat feature on your site! Facebook Messenger, Intercom or Drift - whatever method you choose can help people who are looking for a more immediate conversation get connected.
Turn your site into the gatekeeper of all your prized content. If you sell courses or ebooks, offer paid access to a resource library or specialized training - adding membership functionality is what you need! We can help you use Memberspace to set up tiered membership plans, organize content and automate the administration of your growing online community.
Payment Gated Content
This is just like the Lite version of the feature above. Lock just one page behind a paywall if you're worried less about having recurring "members" and more about getting paid for access to something specific like one training or an individual page of your site, for example.
Password Protected Content
Not worried about getting paid for that content but still want to make sure that it's not accessible to everyone? Lock that ish up behind a password. Bam!
¿Que qué? Exactly. Make your site accessible to people across the globe in their native language by enabling a translate feature. Convert your copy into one target language or offer many - it depends on your audience!
We mentioned this a great add-on if you already have a Location page and a great interactive example is here on our About our Clients page. Additional functions are to make the map dots clickable, searchable or even custom to your branding.
Grow that list! People kind of EXPECT to see this on most websites. They are also prone to just skip over them unless they are connected to some sort of freebie at sign up or another offer in exchange for their precious email address. We get it. Let's make that happen.
Sometimes you have a sale to promote, or an event you want to make sure doesn't get lost in the shuffle or just a really cool offer everyone needs to see. Enter: the world of Promotional Content. There are multiple tools in this arsenal depending on your marketing objectives, but we can help with anything from a static notice at the top of your home page, to a pop up on a specific page, to a message just before visitors try to leave your site.
We're big fans of making your website work as hard on your business as you do and integrating some scheduling functionality is like hiring your website to be your personal assistant. Acuity, Calendly and Dubsado are some of our favorite options to help customers put themselves on your calendar without the dreaded "when are you available to chat?" back-and-forth that usually ends in disappointment.
Sell, sell, sell! We don't need to describe what online shopping is to you, right? You get this? You know what the hard part of it all is? Setting it up. Don't worry. We got you. From taxes to shipping options to email notifications to order fulfillment and inventory management we can help you manage your new online retailing experience.
If you can commit to posting consistently, blogging is an excellent addition to your marketing content calendar!
Help website visitors know the who, what, when and where of events you host or sponsor with an event calendar that lets visitors get all the information they need in an organized way.
A Better Way
So, did you keep track of everything you needed from the list above? Awesome, let's chat! Or, if you lost track of everything somewhere around FAQ you're in luck: our Custom Project Planner lets you build your own perfect website, with just the pages and features you need and nothing you don't. It's a recipe that's just yours, made special for you and no one else. As it turns out, the formula for a winning website needs only include you, your goals and the right team to help you bring it all to life.