The Bare Minimum

 

 

The simplest website could be a single page that states your main message (customers' problems you can solve) and has a call to action. You would have to have a very good message and a compelling call to action, but it could work. It might work even better than a more complicated site that never answers the basic questions your customers are likely to have.

If you only have a little bit of time and are still working out your message, try starting off with the single page approach. Create a one or two sentence statement of claim. Add the appropriate number of benefits. Sprinkle lightly with features and garnish with a call to action. Hmmm pizza,....

 

An Example Advertisement And The Hidden Origins Of Pizza

Do You Like Fresh Hot Pizza Delivered To Your Door So Fast It's Still Too Hot To Eat?

 

Do you like pizza custom made just for you?

johnny automatic pizza slice-100

At Hunt Club Pizza we use only the freshest toppings. In fact to keep up with the demand, our drivers regularly stop at local markets to get fresh supplies for pizzas we're making each day.

If you want fresh, fast, hot pizza with custom toppings drop everything you are doing and call us right now!

Open 11AM - 2AM Monday to Saturday, Call 613 555 1212

OK that's a pretty basic example, you will likely invest more time on your copy and skip the racy video. Your single page should answer all the basic questions your customers are likely to have.

Joomla! Hint:

If you are using a CMS like Joomla! you can make a copy of your page and develop a new & improved version as you have time. Then simply publish the new one & un-publish the old version.

Does it?

Does it answer the What, Where, When, How, Why & Who stuff? It probably should.

There are certain basic website features that we've come to expect. If you want your website to be easy to work with than build it in a predictable manner.

There is a reason why all major Grocery Stores, Big Box Stores etc all follow a predictable layout, to make it easy for their customers.

Sure there are renegade stores that force tired customers through a gauntlet of display products but don't they really just frustrate you and fill you with an urge to hide their glue and sawdust? (Sawdust + Glue = Glurniture!)

 

Home, About & Contact - Moving Beyond a Single Page

As you have time to expand on your message, explaining why your business is different and why customers should choose you, your website will grow beyond a single page.

While being creative is one of your marketing tools, you want to do so in ways that make your website easy to use. Home, About & Contact pages have become known and somewhat expected. Don't reinvent the wheel. The names may vary somewhat but these basic sections should be clearly visible from any page on your site.

 

Home

This is the page customers will see when they land on your website using your domain name. Home should state your main message. It should also be accessible from a menu that's clearly visible.

Some people will land on your site and they wont be on your main page, they may have been directed to a specific article by a friend with a social media or email link. If they liked what they read in your article, they may be curious about your site and will want to quickly find out who you are and what you do. If they look for a home link and see it, they are more likely to follow their curiosity.

Does the page need to say "Home"? No. The page needs to be found when your customers are looking for it. It's also a good idea to hyperlink your logo to the home page so anyone clicking on your logo will be taken to the home page.

Adding Breadcrumbs will help guide your customers as they navigate your site. It might be helpful to keep in mind that not every customer is going to experience your website the way you do. Some may have visual or other physical challenges that change their experience with your website. Others may simply be time distracted or downright inpatient. Using multiple, predictable navigation schemes makes it easier for your customers.

Breadcrumbs - a "You are Here" Sign 4 Websites
BreadCrumbs

If your Home page is the only page on your site it should answer all the important questions. If you expand to Home, About & Contact some of these answers can be expanded and moved to the new pages.

 

About

"The 1st rule is, 'there are no rules'". Your 'About' page should say what Your Customers Think Your About page should say.

Talk about a moving target! Fortunately with feedback you can fine tune your message. A typical 'About' Page might provide helpful background information. Helpful means information needed to move your customer to the next step, whether that next step is a phone call, free quote or even a sale. This would probably be a really good place to detail some of your qualifications and relevant experience. Keep in mind your customers are likely trying to answer the following question when they are on this page:

"OK who are you and how do I know that you can do what you say you can do?"

 

Contact

If your customers make it this far it's likely a good sign. So what is the best way to get a hold of you? Do you have preferred methods? What about for VIP customers?

If you provide after hours service, what are those hours and how is contact initiated?

If you have a physical store, where are you located? Include a map, driving directions, whatever seems appropriate to locating your store. Do you have more than one branch? Maybe your enterprise is a team of professionals and you want your Contact Page to be designed around these roles?

Another purpose of a Contact Page or Contact Form is to hide your email address from spammers. Posting an email in plain text like This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. makes you more available but opens up another avenue to get the spam email we all know and love. With a Contact Form you choose what contact information, if any, to publish. The Contact Form will send you an email for your follow up.

Content Management Systems like Joomla! have capabilities to obfuscate or 'hide' email addresses in website content. This can help cut down on spam while making your email accessible to humans. Joomla! uses a plugin called Content - Email Clocking to accomplish this task and it's enabled by default. WordPress also has this capability as explained here. If you were to "view page source" on this page and search for "info@" you will find 3 references, one from the very top of the page just below the logo and the second is from this sentence in quotes and one at the bottom of the pag. The This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the previous paragraph and in this sentence are obfuscated so that sneaky little email harvesters can not harvest them!

The effort to hide your email address from spammers is really a game of leap frog. In short almost anything that can be hidden by clever code can be uncovered by code that is slightly more clever! As a business person you have to find a balance between protection from spam and accessibility to your potential customers. Using a Contact Page that makes use of a form really makes the debate on publishing your email address moot. One thing you should never do, is respond to spam even if they put an unsubscribe link it the spam email. Replying to spam demonstrates to the spammer that your email address is valid which will tend to increase the amount of spam you get! When you think about it, if they are breaking the rules by spamming you in the first place, what makes you think they will start following the rules just because you ask them to?

 

Summary

We hope the following table will be a helpful reminder of the questions your customers are likely to have on each page. We've included a single page model and a 3 page model. The needs may vary for more complicated websites.

Table Illustrating Features & Benefits
WhatWhereWhenTable

Hopefully you like your humour dry. But seriously there is no cookie cutter solution that works for every business, every website, every group of customers. Repeating the same 'marketing phases' over and over in each section is likely only going to be marginally more helpful than saying nothing at all.

But what if you were to find new ways to say the same stuff without sounding like a bad recording? Then you really could check off all the Y boxes on each page and have a balanced effective sales message.

As your content grows beyond a simple 3 page website obvious subjects to tackle are Products, Services, Pricing, Warranty, Repair, etc. You can use a variety of top, left & right menus and to organize your information in a logical, flowing manner.

Keep it easy for your customers to solve their problems. The fact that they have a problem to solve means they are already busy. They don't need a maze of a website to entertain them. If they did, they would go to one of those maze websites.

In addition to content you will likely want to add tools to help your customers find all this content. A search function and a site map are good places to start. The search for this website (top right) is provided by a Joomla! Module called RokAkaxSearch and the site map (bottom right) is a Joomla! Component called Xmap.

NOTE: Xmap is no longer being developed. The developer's website is directing visitors to JED. Extensions that are no longer under development can create security concerns. If a bug is discovered in the future, no one is going to fix it.

 

NEXT: If It's Not Measured It Won't Happen

 

 

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