What Should You Put On Your Website | How to decide which pages your website needs and what content to write on each | Jenn Wells Design

Your website is being built, everything is going smoothly, the design is beautiful but… What on earth should you put on it?

It can be overwhelming to stare at a blank page (or screen) and try to dredge content from the recesses of your brain. For yeeeears, my website had just 5 pages and most of them were practically blank. But in the past year, I’ve been really working on building and refining my business and now I’m up to 9, not including the blog. What’s more important, those pages have information on them that is useful for my readers and helps to guide them through my service list and consultation process. Plus my SEO is much better!

Yup, content = search engine optimization. But it has to be meaningful, which is why we’re going to talk about what makes sense for your site content.

Recommended Website Pages

With a few exceptions, these pages are needed if you want your website to be navigable by your users.

Home Page

A lot of home pages are pointless. They have some sort of welcome message, maybe a pretty picture, and that’s it. But now, people are finally recognizing the power of the home page, and starting to think strategically about it.

Your home page will probably be the user’s first point of contact with you. It’s your chance to stand out and catch their attention. You want your most important content, your value proposition, and your call to action here. My recommendation is an outline like this:

  • Header/navigation
  • Call to action (your attention grabber and a button to donate/sign up/buy now/whatever)
  • Value (what positive improvements can you make to your audience’s life)
  • Services (elaborate on that value)
  • Address sticking points (what concerns might prevent people from continuing on)
  • Call to action (either a secondary call to action or reiterate the top one so they don’t need to scroll all the way back up)
  • Footer

Services/Products/Etc

Conceptually, this is a little simpler. What is your purpose, why is this site here, what is it that you want people to do? Products are pretty easy – you’ve got a couple options for sales pages and shopping carts, but everyone knows what to expect. Services can be trickier.

Skipping the header and footer, an outline for a service page could be:

  • The problem (what is your audience struggling with)
  • The solution (what you propose to do about it)
  • The results (the value it will give them)
  • Testimonials (social proof that it’s already contributed value to others)
  • Call to action (always!)

About

An about page might not seem essential, but it is for a couple reasons:

  1. It’s expected
  2. People visit this page when they’re not sure about you and need more information
  3. People buy from people, not corporations

I said before that I hate credibility as a reason to do something, but it matters. It is rare that I visit a site that doesn’t have some sort of mission statement or “meet our team” or something. It gives your site a more personal touch, which is important for the second reason.

Obviously, people do sometimes buy from corporations. We like our brand names, after all. But especially for service based businesses or shopping locally, we want to know who we’re buying from. We don’t just want a good product; we want to enjoy the experience. Without a little preview of the person we’ll be working with, we can’t know if it will be fun or horrendous and a lot of us don’t want to take that chance.

For a socially-conscious solopreneur, the about page could look like this:

  • Origin story (hook to get them interested)
  • Mission (how that origin story grew into the business)
  • About you (personal details or what people can expect from working with you)
  • Call to action (always!)

For a nonprofit, I’d tweak it just a bit:

  • Origin story (hook to get them interested)
  • Mission (how that origin story grew into the nonprofit)
  • Our stories (people who have been helped, possibly board members and volunteers)
  • Call to action (always!)

Contact

Contact information is so essential that I’ve begun including email, phone numbers, and sometimes the contact form in the design of the site. You might not want that much clutter in your site design, but you’ll definitely need to make this page clear and easy to find.

Even product based businesses who don’t need to interact with their clients to make a sale can benefit from easy to find contact information. As a customer, I need to be able to reach someone if I have a question or else I’ll take that sale somewhere else.

Page elements to consider:

  • Google map (if you’ve got a physical location)
  • Contact form
  • Contact information
  • Expectations (how long will it take to respond)
  • Hours

Privacy Policy

Technically you don’t legally need a privacy policy (update: countries affected by the GDPR DO need a privacy policy), but it’s a good idea to have. It follows best practices and lets your users know that you know what you’re doing and that you have their best interests in mind. Same with the terms and conditions. I updated my privacy policy to comply to the GDPR, because I’d rather be safe than sorry, AND because I agree with the reasons behind it. (See above about having the user’s best interests in mind.)

Things to include:

  • Who is collecting their information (company name, what you do)
  • Explanation of how their information is collected & used (contact forms, blog comments, mailing lists, etc)
  • Explanation of cookies
  • List of 3rd parties you’re using that use cookies like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, various WordPress plugins)
  • Security – how are you keeping their information secure (SSL, etc)
  • Your user’s rights (they can contact you at any time to view, update, or revoke your access to their data)

If you want a more legally-sound version, I advise hiring a lawyer to draw you up something official.

Terms and Conditions/Liability Statement

This would be the place where you’d tell users that your content is copyrighted, whether they’re allowed to use it and in what capacity, and that little legal statement that says you can’t be held accountable for any actions they choose to take with the information on your website. Lawyers do this really well, “I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer.”

I’ll be honest – I don’t even have this on my site at the moment, but it’s never a bad idea to give yourself more protection! (Do as I say, not as I do.)

Optional Website Content Ideas

You have a little more leeway here and can pick and choose what you think will best suit your users. Some of these could be standalone pages and some might fit well within the pages I already outlined.

FAQs

Do you get a lot of the same questions from clients or potential clients? Make an FAQ page! People might not read it, but if they do, that saves both of you time. I personally use FAQ pages frequently on shopping sites when I want to know about return policies. Quick tip: don’t fill your FAQ page with fluffy questions just to make you look good. Customers can tell the difference between real information and promotion, and it reflects poorly on you. Some additional tips for FAQ page best practices.

Industry History or Jargon

It’s best to avoid industry specific phrases or jargon if possible, but it’s inevitable that we’ll slip up or have specific phrases that there’s no good substitute for. This is where a mini dictionary could come in handy. (I used to have a “design terms” page, but I realized it wasn’t truly necessary for my site.) You could also use this as a place to explain obscure things about your industry or how your industry got started. Anything you think could be useful for your readers! Not to mention being an SEO goldmine.

Sitemap

You need a sitemap for the search engines, but why not make things easier for your readers and make one for human eyes as well?

Process

A process page works best for service based industries, where it’s convenient for clients to get a sneak peek of what it’s like to work with you. This can include an example project or a list of the steps you usually take. For me, this ended up being another type of content that I opted to fit into my service pages instead of keeping it standalone, but it can work either way.

Testimonials

Testimonials are such an important part of the conversion process! We all like to know that someone has tried, and liked, something before we purchase. Testimonials are a reassurance that this person knows what they’re doing and that other people have enjoyed working with them. You can have a testimonial page, but I think it’s more effective to sprinkle them throughout your site (in places that make sense, obviously).

Side note: I read recently that reviews (for products) are more effective when there are some negative ones. This is because we don’t trust products with only positive reviews (we think they’re potentially fake) AND because reading a negative review that doesn’t apply to us reassures us that the rest of the features are what we need.

Blog

This could come in a lot of formats. You could write educational articles, provide tips, share recipes, or even post company news. A blog is great for your SEO because it means fresh content and keeps the search engines interested, but it’s also a place to connect with your target audience. I recommend blogging to everyone, but I will give this caveat: if you’re not actually using an SEO tool like Yoast, blogging semi-regularly, or following some sort of strategy, you won’t get much benefit from your blog.

Policies or Procedures

Other policies you might want to include: If you’re selling retail, what’s your return policy? Is there a money back guarantee? If you’re a service based business, how do you handle liability? What’s in your contract? This could really be anything, but if you have any industry-specific policies that your customers should know about, include this. Both for their education and to CYA in case of any legal issues later on.

Want an easy outline to help you write your website content? Check out my Website Content Questionnaire in the resource library!