Updated: Jan 30
If you're going on a road trip, you don't just jump in the car and start driving, right? Okay, maybe some people do, but most of us plan ahead. We plan our route, grab some yummy snacks, set up our Spotify playlist... It's the same thing with your website - planning ahead sets you up for a much smoother journey.
We're continuing our series about getting your small business ready to launch or refresh your website. If you missed any of the other videos in this series, make sure you check out the playlist HERE.
Today, we're going to be talking about getting #allthethings organized on your website. Anyone that knows me or has worked with me tells me that I'm one of the most organized people they know. This is definitely my "zone of genius," and I'm really excited to share it with you!
By now, if you've joined me throughout the series, you've dialed in your brand and your voice, you've identified your target audience and even thought about some imagery for your site. The next step is to think about how people are actually going to utilize your site once you get them there. Organizing your content and thinking about your page structure and the navigation from your customer's perspective will help you give them the best user experience.
Having better navigation, meaning it's really easy to use and understand, leads to happier clients, a better experience, and it makes them more likely to want to work with you, buy from you and recommend you to others. Good site structure also leads to a better search engine optimization or SEO ranking. This, in turn, will give you more traffic leading to more sales or leads for your business.
Here's a pro tip: You'll save time down the line by creating only the necessary pages and assets that you need for your business from the start. For example, remember that Pinterest binge that we went on last week? 😉 You may have really liked that cool animated gallery of images and interactive buttons that you found on someone else's site, but does it apply to your business model? If it doesn't, save it for down the road. Only create the pages and assets that you really need.
Now let's talk about how to actually plan the menu and the navigation for your website - which pages are essential, which ones do I strongly recommend, and which ones are optional or ones that you may have specifically to your business or ones that you may want to consider down the road?
There are 8 essential pages that I think every website should have. And we're going to cover these more in-depth next week, when we talk about copy and what actually needs to go into those pages, but I want to give a basic overview here so when we move into the layout and structure of how your site is put together, but at least this makes sense from kind of a high level overview.
The first 4 essential pages that I think every website needs to have are obviously your Home page, your landing page, where everyone's gonna mainly come the first time.
Your About page - whether that's about me, about us - however, that looks for you and your business.
Your Services page, where you're going to lay out all the things that you're offering.
And then a Contact page, which could be a separate page, or could be incorporated into something like your footer.
The last one that I am labeling as essential, but it's kind of optional (it depends on your business) is a Blog. The reason that I think it is actually an “essential” page is because it not only helps with your SEO ranking, but also helps you build authority with your clients, your customers, as well as within your field.
There are of course, a pleathora of other pages that you may have on your website. It depends on your business, where you're at, what type of things that you offer. Here are just a few that you might consider now or down the road…
The first one is something like a Landing page, a Coming Soon page. If your website is under construction, or if you have a specific offer that you want a separate landing page for. If you are a business that's doing e-commerce, you are definitely going to want to have a Shop page, as well as a bunch of different things that go with that. This could be in addition to just your basic Services page, that covers kind of the overview of what you offer.
If what you do lends itself to the visual medium, having something like a Gallery or a Portfolio of happy clients or work that you've done is definitely something that you could include. Another idea for a website page that you could have is a Resource Library, whether that is free, paid, or some combination of how people would access that.
You can also offer an Event Calendar, whether that's events that your business is offering, or simply as a resource for local events in your area. And then another thing that many people offer on their website is a Membership Area for again, resource library type things or if you offer online courses or other content that you want to have for free or behind a paywall area.
For the top-level navigation on your site, you really do want to keep it simple. You want to limit it to between 4-6 options. You’ll have those 4 main options - Home, About, Services and Contact – and then maybe a Blog, something like that.
Then within your top-level navigation, you can have drop-downs. If you need to have additional options for navigation for your clients, you would just want to make it as simple and easy and intuitive to navigate as possible because that's going to give the best client and customer experience as they're working their way through your site. The best way to get this figured out is literally to just either take paper and pen, or you can do it with software and draw out a flow chart of the different pages you have, the actions that you want people to take on each page, and how those pages interact with each other.
You never want people to feel like they are unsure what the actions should be on each page. You want to be kind of guiding and directing people around your site. For each page, you're going to want to think about what you want them to be doing by the time they get to the end of that page or to the midway point. Is there somewhere else that you want to direct them? What do you want them to do? Is that filling out a form? Is it clicking a link? Is it going somewhere else? Is it contacting you?
Whatever that may be, that's something that you want to think about as you're thinking about the layout and the flow of your site.
As you're putting your website together, there is some information that you'll find you'll need multiple times, and it will save you so much time if you just keep this all together in one spot, right from the beginning. This includes things like your general business information - your business name, address, phone number, the business email, your business hours, all of that kind of stuff. As well as your domain registrar - this would be the company that you purchase your domain from - your actual website, name that www dot your business name here. You're going to want to have that information, your login information, all of that in one spot as well.
Social media links are another one - you will use those multiple times, so having all of that in one spot, (actually writing down the different links for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) whether that's a spreadsheet, a project management software, even just a Word document, whatever is easiest for you, will save so much time.
Be sure to come back next week for part six of the series where we are going to conquer your website copy. If you want to get a jumpstart on prepping for your website launch, be sure to grab my website prep checklist HERE.
Let me know in the comments, how do you stay organized? What systems do you like best?