You may have an idea of what you want for your website in your head but getting it down on paper or digital text can help solidify those thoughts, and remove vague notions that will slow you down. Increase your productivity by making a step by step plan you can follow and tick off as you work your way through it.
The most important thing at the start of your website's life is content. Don't worry too much about beauty yet.
What Pages Do You Need on Your Site?
Some pages every website has that you probably want on your own site:
- Home page
This usually comes last and changes often. Its main purpose is to welcome visitors by showing them how to get to what they came to find on your site and highlight your best products/ services/ content.
Most websites will talk about their company, how it started, what they do, who they are or what their goals are. The style of your about page will depend on your type of business.
This should have your contact information and may include a quick form that allows people to send you a message. For service providers, this may be related to asking for a quote.
Some more pages that you might have, depending on the type of site you have:
The blog "page" is generally a link from your main menu to the blog area where visitors can see your latest blog posts in a normal blog style (latest posts first, teaser intro with a "read more" link to the full article.
If you are an established business, you probably know the most often asked questions - answer them here. You may even want to let people ask you new questions (answering questions can be an easy way to add helpful content to your website).
This is a page you build over time. Most people know testimonial pages don't show any bad press but these pages still get read.
- Portfolio/ Gallery
If you sell goods or services, this might be a gallery of photos or you or your products in action. Photographers, artists, etc will need this page.
- Products/ Services
If you are selling goods or services, you will need to put these products up on your site so visitors can browse your products. This in generally done with a shopping cart extension.
Other pages you should have, for legitimacy's sake:
To explain how you treat users information.
- Terms or Use/ Legal
To explain the rules of using your website and the responsibilities of you and your visitor.
This is a list of links to all pages on your website.
Get these pages set up and your site will start to look legitimate.
What Features Does Your Site Need?
The key word here is need. Flashy features tend to slow down your website's loading speed and a slow website is an unfriendly one. Keep features down to necessities - things that help your visitors find the information they're looking for.
Also, don't worry too much about this stuff till you have some content up. This can be time consuming and is all for nothing if you don't have anything on your site in the first place. Content first.
What to Avoid
- Auto Music
If you want to show your visitors music, no problem. Embed something like soundcloud but unless your site is a band's website, don't make music (or video for that matter) play after the page loads. It's just annoying.
- Quote of the Day
Or similar flashy stuff when you really don't need it. Some sites warrant the use of this type of "Hey, look at this." type widget, but most do not.
What You Need
Every site should have an easy to find search function. It's easy to find if it's in the same place it is on every other site (the top right corner of every page). If you make it hard to find, people won't use it. If they can't find what they want easily, they leave.
I probably don't need to include this but you should have a menu. Again, put it where people are used to finding it and they'll use it.
A nice feature is a comment section where people can react to your writing. This is good for you because it shows Google your site is loved.
- Social Sharing
You want people not only to react to your writing by commenting, but also to share it with friends. Having a "Like it!" or "Pin It" button in the right place lets people share easily. Again, if it's not easy, they won't do it.