Site content is your message
The point of a website is to present your message to an audience. The content (message) is what matters!
Planning and preparation of the content for your site may seem like a challenge. The following guidelines and options are designed to make the process relatively painless, avoiding various pitfalls along the way.
If taking advantage of the “full service” option, you should still review the following information ahead of the review meeting, so as to be familiar with the objectives and issues.
The following guidelines are intended for a typical small-business informational site, further considerations may apply to other types of site.
Prospective customers need to see that you are open for business, ready to provide what they need, and an appropriate fit for their need.
You want them to find you in response to an online search for your products and services, too. The search engines have to work with the key-words entered, so for best results, the common terms the customer would use should be included!
Beware of not providing enough information — people won’t necessarily call you to clarify basic information, unless they’re sufficiently motivated (and your competitors don’t provide the answers either!)
What level of information is appropriate will vary depending upon type of business. The following is a partial list of some questions which could be answered:
- products and services. Obviously some information needs to be provided, but levels of detail could vary depending upon the type of business, and the objectives. In particular, remember that people will search for the product or service, so detailing products, brands, services etc., will help to get your site found for these things.
- price. Particularly if it’s one of your selling points, or if potential customers may frequently have no idea of the likely price. Other businesses may prefer to not disclose pricing, and stress other factors.
- area served. Let people (and search engines) know where you do business.
- do you provide a service or trade people might require urgently (e.g. plumber in event of burst pipes, etc?) If so, tell people if you have an after-hours service.
A typical information site will provide some combination of the following pages:
Home or landing page
A “home” or “landing” page. This is the preferred entry point to your site, but be aware other pages can be selected if they appear more directly match to the query.
You should clearly summarise what your business does, where it does it etc. A site visitor should be able to establish whether or not your business is relevant to their search within a few seconds (as they may not read very far if that isn’t clear!)
This can be a good place to establish some points of difference between your business, and the competition. Vague “marketese”, generic mission statements and the like will mostly be a waste of space, and distract from the important information.
Having a specific contact details page is highly recommended in most cases. It needs to be clear and fast-loading (out of consideration for mobile users in particular).
Embedded maps are a nice feature, but avoided here (as they are not fast loading on a mobile device). Instead, a link to the map is provided, for those who require it.
For mobile users, phone numbers can be encoded as links to enable the phone user to simply click on the link to transfer the number to their dialler. A separate link to send a text message can also be provided. Note that some mobile devices may not support these links, but a good number do.
While not mandatory, this is an opportunity to provide a more in-depth picture of the business. You can include information about company history, achievements, key employees, basically whatever makes sense in your particular situation.
Products & services
Here is where you can get down to the specifics of what products and services you are selling. If you have distinct aspects of your business, it may be better to dedicate a separate page to each.
If you have many products, then it may also be beneficial to split out pages by category or manufacturer etc.
Here, photographs of products may be useful (perhaps representative ones if you have many products.)
You could also consider providing useful information for your customers. You might have some commonly requested product manuals which could be downloaded, or perhaps a simple “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) list.
Photographs, diagrams and logos add interest, and can be used to provide a clear picture of your business. But beware of having too many large images on a page, as they are likely to lead to slow loading on mobile devices, and may also impede site navigation.
You’ll want some good quality pictures related to your business. Ideally, you will already have some suitable photographs, or be able to take some.
Other options are:
- I may be able to assist with some basic photographic requirements. This could be done in conjunction with obtaining the information for the copy text, for instance, as a means of keeping costs to a minimum.
- for more elaborate requirements, you might want to employ the services of a professional photographer.
- you could use stock photography. How appropriate this is will depend upon the situation. While there are some free sources of stock images, most require licensing. You need to beware of “free downloads” — the downloading might be free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right to use it on a website.
- suppliers and manufacturers may be a good source of images too — they may provide promotional material for this purpose. As with stock photography, you would need to confirm the terms and conditions of usage on the web, however.
- if you have an existing company logo, you will generally want that incorporated into the site. Images in electronic format are preferred; printed versions can be scanned if necessary. (Note that the end result in this case will depend upon the nature of the image, and quality of the print.)
Basic optimisation of images for web use is included in the standard pricing. This may include conversion to the appropriate resolution, and evaluating a good compression level (the idea being to get a good balance between quality and download speed).
Photographs can be provided in JPEG, TIFF format. Canon "raw" files are also able to be processed. Logos and other graphics might be in PDF, PNG or other (proprietary) formats.
Note: JPEG files involve “lossy” compression, which means that less visible details of the image are dropped out to save space. However, repeated editing and re-saving may compound these losses. Whenever possible, it is suggested that you provide the original file for photographs. If performing any editing yourself, save in a “non-lossy” format such as TIFF.
Need more information?
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.