Over the years I have built hundreds of websites for small businesses. Many of these businesses are just getting going and not sure what to include on their websites.
If possible I suggest a basic small business website have four or five pages. If content is thin, it may be tempting to put everything on one page, which can look quite beautiful, but more pages will be better for the site search engine optimization (remember at least 250 words per page). If learning more about SEO, check out Andrew’s course, Making Your Website Search Engine Ready.
Often, the process of building a website helps with clarifying the business and honing in on the client’s unique selling potential. You may need to act as a coach as well as a web designer with a blueprint to lead your client through developing the content.
Homepage – you didn’t need me to tell you this. I debated not including it because Home is so obvious, but then you would all wonder if I had finally, really gone mad. On your homepage make sure you include the hits: who, what, where, when and why. Photography is key, consider investing in professional photos or search for stock images. There are loads of beautiful photos for free or very affordable.
About – typically the About page is the 2nd most visited page on any website (#1 is the homepage, or if you are a blogger, your most popular posts(s) often rank very well). Do not overlook the About page. People like doing business with real people. We don’t need to know every bit of everything, but some personalization is critical. On my bio I mention that I have a golden retriever. You wouldn’t believe how many people comment about the hound. I love adding a photo here, of the business owners, staff or even the building. If you are not a big writer, consider the timeline module. It allows you to display the hits in chronological order, and you can use headlines with as much text as makes sense.
Services – this is often hard for new businesses because all they really want is BUSINESS! A web designer may say they do everything you need, when in reality they really don’t understand the nuances of hosting, email or SEO. A hairdresser will say anyone with hair is their jam, when really they are great at up-do’s for weddings or are amazing trimming curly hair. . . you get the idea. If your client (or you) has several services which are good search terms, I suggest a page for each service, because it is good for SEO. If content creation is too laborious for each service, or it just doesn’t make sense, that’s okay, put the services on one page, and try to provide some specific details.
A fun, frequently used plugin I suggest is the Before and After Slider. This would be great for landscapers, hair stylists, decorators, anyone who has a service that provides a noticeable change. The slider is interactive, you drag the vertical bar from one side to the next to see the change. visit the demo here.
Contact – I am sure you didn’t need me to tell you this, but I am speaking from experience and I have heard a lot over the years. More than once clients have said, “well can’t the visitor scroll to the bottom of the page and look for my phone number in the footer?” No, they can’t. You need a page, and I suggest a form. Divi allows you to have conditional logic with their default forms. By this I mean not only can you have a form, but if someone answers a certain way, or the form displays other options. Example: you are an interior designer. You ask – is your project for commercial or residential. Based on the answer you ask follow up questions related to a commercial project vs a private home.
The problem with forms and email is that they aren’t 100% reliable. Sometimes email can get stuck in spam or the host isn’t delivering for whatever reason. I will often use the plugin KK Custom Forms on my client websites. KK isn’t just a form builder, but it is a CRM (which stands for customer retention management). Quick and easy explanation, when KK is installed you can see from within your WordPress dashboard all of the emails and email addresses that were sent through the website’s contact form. It’s a double check that you are not missing any leads.
Testimonials – If you have them, use them! We all know that social proof is critical. Do you buy anything on Amazon without looking at the stars and feedback from other buyers? I understand, it is hard to ask for a testimonial, but if you have provided a good service, you should be able to get at least three clients to say something nice about you. You may need to ask 5 or 6 people, because some are better at writing than others, but a page with testimonials can go a long way. Often testimonial pages can be tough to style, and clients feel overwhelmed by the need to write a LOT. Take a look at the SB Slick Slider Module. This plugin allows you to put your testimonials into a rotating slider, which adds a bit of gentle animation to your site and by nature of the scrolling, you don’t need much content.
Location – If you are a brick and mortar business have a location page. If you travel to your clients, make this an Area’s Served page. If you are tired of the default map options, take a look at the Divi Extended Custom Map Module which has 73 pre loaded styles you can choose from.
Blog – I think a blog is critical for search engine optimization. Each post is a new door opening your website to Google, it can be used to answer FAQ’s about the business, position the business owner as an expert in the field and show off all of the cool things the business is doing. If a client has a blog I install the KK Divi Blogger plugin because I love displaying thumbnail images next to blog posts.
Looking for a child theme to help you jump start the design process? Thanks for asking, let me guide you. There are loads of themes available in elegant marketplace, I suggest you take a look through the services category. You will find niche businesses such as one for an e-commerce bike shop or another for equestrian clubs alongside many that can easily be customized for service businesses such as Ophelia or Business Pro.
I have been working with the Divi Cloud plugin and love the flexibility of adding full layouts, sections or modules that have already been designed. I just swap the content for my own and hit publish. It has revolutionized the way I work.
On a side note, pricing. Building a small business website does not diminish the amount of time and effort that is required to launch the site. As a general guideline I suggest one hour per page, 2 hours set up and 2 hours post launch time. Newer businesses often require more of your time to help them figure out what to include on the site, they may not have a brand guide, which means you could be developing much more than just a website. Charge accordingly. Nothing makes a service provider more cranky than working for free.
Which pages do you always include on a new business website?