"Web Truths (Homepage)
"What's the Deal?"
"The Next Step"
"Types of Websites"
"What can go wroing?"
Here is a listing of the five basic page types. These pages will comprise the majority of your website.
If any of the above webpage types are missing from your site there should be a very good reason.
And even if there is a good reason it might be best to explain that on the missing page. For example,
if you flat out do not want anyone contacting you then perhaps it would be best to explain that fact
on your contact page. No matter how harsh it may seem, a simple statement to
"Don't bother contacting me" is much better than letting a visitor hunt fruitlessly for contact information.
- This page is used to introduce you and your business to the world. Be sure to address
the basic What's, the basic Who's and the basic Where's.
The Two What's:
- What is your business called? Branding, branding, branding. When a browser gets to your
page they need to know without confusion and without the necessity of hunting just what the heck
business they have landed on.
- What do you offer? Unless you are keeping it a secret for some unaccountable reason
never hesitate to tell customers immediately what you offer. This will tell them immediately if
hunting around your site will bring them to the goods or services they are seeking.
The Two Who's:
- Who are you? Let your visitors know right away who you are. Are you a corporation, a small business,
a family run concern, or perhaps an individual. Whatever the situation there will be pluses and minuses. Some folks
will consider it a benefit and others a problem. Since you can't please everyone you may as well take the surest
course of telling the simple truth.
- Who are your customers? Don't make your visitors guess about who your customers are and whether
they fit the appropriate demographic. If you sell to schools and universities exclusively make sure to
tell folks right away. This will save them time and you headache.
The Two Where's:
- Where do you sell? Since the internet is used by all types it is most important to
define your target audience. If you only sell from your shop and not the website, don't be bashful --
tell folks right away. I find a map to your business is a very effective means of getting the point
across that you expect people to show up at your place of business. If you only sell through distributors
then say so. There is no shame in whatever sales model you have chosen for yourself. The only
shame might be in failing to communicate the situation to your visitors.
- Where to go to buy? Don't make visitors hunt for a link to your products page. If you sell
on the net make a clear easy to find link that leads directly to your page for purchasing.
- Every website should have a page dedicated to contact information. Include all and every
viable method of contact. It's amazing the number of websites which hide their contact information.
If you don't want phone calls or email contact then say so. Be upfront about what you do want. Visitors
will appreciate the information.
The types of contact information to consider is email, snail mail, fax, and phone. Because of the
nature of the internet we don't advise ever putting your home address. If you don't have a business
address get a PO box. If you don't have a PO Box or business address just don't give an address at all.
It really isn't wise to provide your home address.
If you have the geekish tendencies and are capable of including a contact form on your website then please do.
It is convenient and helpful for those who may not have direct email capabilities.
- Product Summary
- Every good website will have one page somewhere within its pages which summarizes the products
and services the website has to offer. Make it easy to read and even easier to understand. This is
where visitors will come looking for your product.
- Product Detail
- To keep the "Product Summary" page as just a summary you will need somewhere to put all that great
detail about your goods and services. The product detail page is just the place. Each product or service
should have its own page. And that page should very clearly define the product in question. Keep in mind
that not only are you defining in relationship to other website's products. You are also defining
each of your products in relationship to themselves. Who would benefit from the "Pro" version and who
can do well with the "Special Edition" model at less expense. Don't make the visitor guess which product
they need. On more than one occasion I have blown off a website simply because I couldn't figure out if I needed
the larger more expensive or smaller less expensive version. I figure if they can't give pre-purchase service
to help me find the best fit then they are not going to give good after purchase service.
- If you provide goods or service it behooves you to provide a page which spells out in plain language
what support folks can expect, who can expect the support (buyer's only??), where support is available, when support is available,
and at what cost (if any).
Whatever your policy is, just tell it like it is. If you are embarassed because you charge for support and
try to hide that fact until someone calls don't be surprised at the negative effect. Bad news does not improve with age.