As with any major project, if you want to avoid overwhelm and omissions when creating your new website, it helps to break it down into a series of steps… and then take them one step at a time.
There is so much to consider for a site build ~ name, domain, hosting, platform, copy, design, images, functionality, and how all of that integrates with your marketing and business itself.
Once you have the technical side in hand, and before you write and refine your copy, it really helps to consider structure ~ what goes where and how your clients will navigate and engage with your site.
To help you ensure that your site has and does what it needs to for your business or practice, I have broken the process down into 10 Steps for you to follow to structure your site.
1. Navigation ~ K.I.S.S.
The best place for your main navigation menu is at the top of the page. More often than not, this will range to the right with your logo top left. This is where visitors expect to find it… so, in the spirit of making it simple for them to find the menu and navigate your site with ease that’s where you should put it.
KISS.~ keep it short and simple.
The main navigation for your small business or private practice should have no more than 7 items and is probably going to look a little like this.
Home | About | Services | Blog | Booking/shop* | Contact
*Depending on what you do you may or may not need a booking or shop page.
You can have submenus that dropdown from the main menu ~ eg. if you have a number of services or blog categories, but beware not to complicate things with sub-submenus.
2. Homepage ~ where you will shine
Your homepage is very often the first page that people land on when they visit your site, perhaps for the first time. This is your chance (and you only have a few seconds) to grab their attention, let them know that they are in the right place, and then direct them to where they need to go on the site.
What’s your Value Proposition
What should it say?
Who you are & what you do
Who you do it for
How it benefits them
And what makes working with you different
Here’s what your homepage should include, pretty much in the order that you should present it.
- Your USP or Value proposition
Right from the top, let visitors know who you are, what you do, who you do it for and how that solves their problems. And how working with you is going to be better for them than working with anybody else.
+ CTA ~ to find out more or to go straight ahead and book you.
- Services overview ~ when summarising your ‘services’, focus on the benefits to the client rather than the feature you are offering. Ask yourself: Who is your dream client? What problems do they face? How does what you do solve your client’s problem and what will that mean to them?
+ Links to your service/s
- About teaser ~ a little snippet about you to reassure your visitor that you are indeed the person who is experienced and/or qualified to solve their problem/s. Include a good-quality picture of yourself, so people can see who you are.
+ Links to your About page
- Proof ~ this is where you post a little bit of proof to back up your claims and would come in various forms:
testimonials • portfolio links • client list • socials • badges • awards • associations
- Blog section ~ a section highlighting your 3 most recent blog posts. This offers more proof of your knowledge and expertise and further engages your visitors on your site.
- CTA ~ Always include a final Call to Action. If your visitor has actually scrolled to the bottom of the page, let them know what is the very next thing you’d like to invite them to do
- Opt-in ~ And, if you have a freebie or a newsletter that they can sign up for, you can include an opt-in form on your homepage.
3. About page ~ where you show that ‘you’ are really all about ‘them’
After being reassured on your homepage that they are in the right place, the next most likely page visitors will turn to is your About page. So, be ready to greet them.
Across your whole site, people will want to see glimpses of your personality but remember that it’s your About page that really offers the opportunity to let it shine.
They’ll want to find out more about you… but only as much as they need to further reassure themselves that you’re the right person to work with. Use this page to tell your client all about how ‘you’ are really all about ‘them’.
Your copy should start with identifying their issue, problem or pain point, and then tell them about you and how you can help.
This is another opportunity to display further proof of your ability and experience (testimonials • portfolio • socials • badges • awards • associations) to encourage visitors to take the next step.
And then, show them that step by including a CTA which will point to your Services or direct to your Booking Form/Calendar or Shop.
4. Services ~ what you do and how you do it
Here’s where you can get down into the details of what you offer. And remember, always go at this from the point of view of the client ~ what they are looking for and how it will benefit them.
Focus on the benefits rather than the features of what you do.
You may only need one page for this or if you have several services that you provide you can use this page to summarise and link out to individual service pages.
You can include testimonials that are specific to the particular service on this page remember to include a clear CTA directing your visitors to the next step, whatever that might be ~ Book a treatment • Book reading • Schedule a free consultation • Buy this product/service
5. Booking/shop page ~ your bread & butter
This will depend on your business. If you offer face-to-face sessions, readings or treatments (online or in person) you might direct visitors to your booking page or calendar.
Here you’ll need to consider what extra functionality may be required, such as an e-commerce plugin like Woo Commerce or a booking calender plugin like Calendly or Cliniko .
More on that in another post.
6. Blog ~ attraction, engagement, authority
Do you really need a blog? Yes, in most cases your website, and therefore your business, would really benefit from the inclusion of a blog… why?
A blog keeps the content on your website current, fresh and dynamic. This sends healthy signals to Google, indicating that the lights are on and someone’s home over at your website and in the long run will improve your traffic and authority.
Blogging offers the opportunity for you to position yourself as an expert and distinguish yourself from others in your field. Write about what you know and about what concerns and interests your dream client.
Shiny top tip!
It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece…
… or even highly original. You might be a massage therapist blogging about the positive effects of massage, a hypnotherapist writing about ways to deal with stress, or a coach writing about mindfulness…
Whatever the subject, these things will have been written about before, but your clients will still be interested in your take on it and how you express yourself on the subject. That’s what they want to hear.
They get to hear your voice and you get to show your expertise, passion and personality.
It’s a win win.
Regular blogging also provides you with content to share on social media. You can invite readers to comment and share leading to higher engagement and ultimately more bookings or sales.
Blogging is a commitment, but it’s worth it.
7. Contact page ~ also your bread & butter
Your contact page should be easy to find from every page of your site. It’s often the last button on the right in the main navigation and also linked to from the site footer (see below).
This very important page should provide all the ways that you can be contacted including:
- A simple contact form ~ there are various premium and freemium plugins available including WP Forms and Formidable Forms. The key is to keep it simple and only ask for the minimum information you require to reduce friction at the point of contact. The more complicated the form, the less likely it is that a potential client will press send.
- reCatpcha ~ to prevent spam entries coming through your contact form.
- Telephone and email
- Follow buttons for all your social accounts ~ these should appear on all your pages.
- Location map with directions if clients need to come to you for your services.
- Opening times/office hours if that is relevant to your business.
- A calendar widget if you are inviting people to schedule a Free Consultation or Discovery Call
Optional extras include a high-quality friendly picture of you and testimonial/s relating to what it is like to work with you to give that final bit of encouragement to people considering getting in touch with you.
You might also include a blog section ~ in case a person decides that they are not quite ready to press the send button just yet, give them somewhere to go to find out more about you and your expertise. This is preferable to losing them entirely to the vast expanse of the internet.
Shiny top tip!
Don’t leave them hanging.
When creating your contact form always direct visitors to a specifically created thank you page once their message is sent. This way you can manage their next interaction on your site (rather than losing them) and manage their expectations of what will happen next in terms of your communication. This page could include a blog section inviting people to explore your latest posts.
8. Legals ~ dull but necessary
There are some ‘legal’ pages that you are required by law to include on your site. Others are optional but recommended, offering protection for you and your clients and managing expectations on both sides. These pages also provide valuable information that will help a potential customer make their ‘decision to buy’ and give them an idea of what it would be like to work with you.
The required list
- Cookies Policy
The recommended list
- Cancellation Policy
- Refund Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Payment Terms
- Code of Ethics
9. Testimonials ~ positive proof
Testimonials are a great example of positive social proof and a really important element of your website. They help potential clients to overcome any objections they might have before booking a session with your or buying one of your products.
These are most effective when strategically sprinkled across the site as well as (or rather than) all on one dedicated page. Here are some ideas.
- Homepage ~ providing the proof that will encourage potential clients to explore your site further
- Services or products page ~ use testimonials that specifically relate to the benefits of the treatment, reading or type of therapy that you offer
- Booking page and/or Contact page ~ to give people that extra push to purchase and to show how approachable you are
10. Footer ~ last K.I.S.S.
This is generally a site-wide section (identical on every page) where people will go for quick contact details and legal pages, wherever they are on your site. As with the main navigation ~ which is where we started on this post ~ keep it short and simple. And I would also add that you keep it visual.
Give people what they expect to find here. Items to include:
- A navigation menu ~ quick links to your most important pages especially if people have had to scroll far to reach the foot of your page
- Quick contact details plus a link or button to your contact page
- Linked icons to your socials
- Badges ~ visual proof of any associations or professional bodies that you are a member of
- A bottom bar ~ add links to your legal pages and your dated copyright statement
You may also want to include an opt-in or sign-up box in the footer or as a pop-up on page exit.
So, that was a real whistlestop run down on how to plan and structure your website.
Now you know what content your site should include. The next step is to create that content.
Feel like you need some help?
It’s not unusual to feel daunted by the prospect of setting up your website. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea and would like some help planning and getting started on your set-up and design, I can help.
To find out more, get in touch for a free discovery call.
Sophie is a London-based Web Designer & Writer with 15 years’ experience creating websites and content for small businesses, therapists, coaches, and non-profits.