Like most things in life, website layout is often dictated by trends. Where a few years ago most small business websites were primarily text-based with a few pics, these days the trend is to have a great looking website which includes large, professional looking photographs interspersed with text and information. This is as true for small business websites as it is for huge multi-national companies. Web Designers will be aware of this already, but the majority of small business owners might not be as aware about what to include in a website.
Baring that in mind we will have a look at the parts of a website and we will talk about the elements that make a make a well designed and structured website web-page right now. Let's start from the top and work our way down.
The strip along the top, where you click to get the different website pages is called the navigation bar. This is where you'll find the list of all of the different pages of your website so that you can click them to "navigate' through them to find the page that you want to look at. Various text fonts, colors etc can be used to make the navigation bar unique to your website. The Navigation bar is usually visible on each web page and will often also include a business logo or brand name at the top.
The header is the section below the navigation bar. Currently, the trend in headers is to use a large eye-catching quality photo as its the first thing a visitor to the website usually notices.
Images make a huge impact on user engagement, especially if the images are interesting and visually appealing. The header often includes the business brand name and sometimes a phrase or two in a prominent place, this is called a tagline.
Sometimes in a header section is a button, which invites a "call to action" where we invite a page viewer to click to get more information or contact the small business website owner. We will talk more about calls to action a little later as they are a great tool to get the website visitor to engage with the business.
Some websites have very little else on their home page, wanting the viewer to click either the call to action button or one of the links on the navigation bar to find out more. However, most websites have content after the header.
After the header, we usually have the meat and potatoes of the website, known as content. The content section is where most of the useful information is held. The types of content to include in this section can be varied but often includes.
Here you will find a list of what services are offered by the small business website owner, prices can be included here also if desired.
If the business is a restaurant or a cafe, then a menu could be included in this section.
Many business websites choose to be quite brief in this section preferring to go into more detail about the services offered on other web pages, with a "call to action" button inviting the visitor to click the button and visit another page to find out more.
Call To Action
A call to action is an invitation to ask the website visitor to do something now. Usually, it's a clickable button, asking for more information or to subscribe to a newsletter or to ask for more information about a product or service or to take the visitor to another page within the website. A call to action is really useful because it is an opportunity to get the visitors email information so that a small business website owner is able to make contact afterward and maybe get a sale from someone who may have been undecided before they had the chance to discuss it further.
A gallery section is an area where the small business website owner can showcase a series of images.
Often showing previous work, products, team members etc.
A gallery is a really good opportunity to show people what the website owner is all about, in a visual medium such as the internet galleries are a great choice if you have good quality photographs to show.
In the text sections you will usually find out more specific details about the owner of the small business website, or their products, there could be more information about the services offered and why a customer should obtain these products or services here as opposed to a competitor.
A testimonial section is a great opportunity to show potential customers what previous customers have to say about the small business. Direct speech is often used here. Potential customers really like to see what other people have to say before they spend their money.
In the contacts section, you will usually find various different ways to make contact with the small business website owner. Such as email addresses, street addresses, telephone numbers. Also, contact forms can be included in which a visitor can fill in some information so that the owner of the website can contact the visitor afterward.
Maps are often also used to show where a business is located if the small business owner wants customers to visit in person. This is especially useful if the business is a store, a cafe or a restaurant.
The footer is the strip along the bottom of the web page, it is usually found on each page of the website.
Often the small business contact information is also found in the footer. Also, many websites will include more links to the other web pages within the website in the footer section.
Many footers also include social media links. Social media should not be overlooked as many customers like to connect with a small business through social media and it's a good way to see a little more of the company and for small business owners to drive more sales by promoting their product or service or showing any promotions, discounts or sales.
To avoid a crammed website most modern websites have extra pages in addition to the main web page. Small business websites should be no different, as a crammed web-page can often look unprofessional. Some of the common additional pages small business websites often include are as follows.
Here the visitor will find out more in-depth information about the business, some history, some information as to what motivates the business to exist and serve customers. The about us section is a good place to show the organizational values and ethics.
Terms of service
The terms of service show contractual and legal information to potential customers before they choose to sign up for the service. It shows transparency and should go a long way towards answering questions a potential client may have.
If the small business website owner sells products then a store is often included.
Here most websites have the ability to purchase an item directly from the website where the products go into a shopping cart before the sale is finalized and payment is processed through a secure payment system.
A blog is a series of articles. Here the small business website owner will write articles that are relevant to the product or service being offered.
It is a great way to show that the business has knowledge or interest in the service being offered and is a nice way for a reader to gain a little more informal information about the small business.
Here a small business website owner may offer a service that only paying customers are allowed to have access to.
Some of those services might be downloads, videos, course material or other premium content. It might be an employee only section where business resources are held.
Well, I hope that has given a little more information as to what the different parts of a small business website are called and how a modern website is configured.
Of course, this is just a guide and a website can be entirely customized to suit the needs of the individual website owner. Parts can be added or taken away as required. As many pages as desired can be included based on the user's needs.
One thing however that all websites needs is relevant information.
It is vitally important to keep your website up to date if contact information changes then the website should be updated to show the changes.
Also if the products or services or pricing structure changes then the website needs to be changed to reflect that. Always make sure that you have a good working relationship with your web designer so that information can be updated when the need arises.
Studies have shown that a well designed, high-quality website will attract more customers. Most people use the internet when looking for a product or service, and if a small business does not have a website they simply will not be found by new customers.
Some people may consider some "build your own website" companies. These appear to be decent when first looked at but are problematic for a number of reasons.
Firstly if a small business owner is going to use a free platform to host their website, then caution must be shown because the website is not actually owned by the business owner. The hosting company may change their policy or decide that the content contravenes one of their rules and may delete the website without warning or consultation. Many small business owners have lost their free websites without any notification or apparent justification which leads to a loss of customers.
Another issue with free websites is the professionalism. Most of the free website hosting platforms will include their own branding in a prominent location throughout the website This shows a lack of professionalism and commitment by the small business owner, and often makes a client suspicious about the longevity of the small business if the owner does not own their own website.
Hand in hand with the hosting companies branding featuring prominently is the problem where free website domain names also feature the hosting companies name prominently. This is not only a problem with a small business own brand name taking a back seat to the hosting companies name but also a problem with indexing and search engine optimization. Many of the free platforms are just not as good as being found on google or yahoo as a professional website.
We at Best Choice Web Design are a Windsor Web Design company and will always work with the client to ensure that they are entirely happy with the finished website and that they have a website that they can be proud of and that will attract new customers.
Thanks for reading, I hope that this was of some use to you.