When you first start a business, you probably don’t know the Top 7 Must-Haves for your business website. And that’s okay. Back when I first started my business, I just scoured the internet looking for websites that I thought were brilliant and would attempt to replicate them to fit my brand. What I ended up with was a website that didn’t actually work for me or provide my clients with a clear idea of what it meant to work with me. I’m going to give you the top 7 must-haves for your business website so you can be set up for success when you start building your website.
Pre-Req – Find a Template
There is no point in reinventing the wheel on your website platform. Depending on which platform you use, you’ll want to type into Google “Templates for WordPress” or “Podcaster Templates for Showit”. Basically whatever genre of work you’re doing + the platform you plan to build it on. I highly recommend using some platform that works with WordPress such as ShowIt. Super straightforward, a little techier than Squarespace, but much higher ROI.
01. Homepage Message
The moment a potential client lands on your homepage they need to know exactly what your business is and how it can work for them. If someone can’t tell what your business is within the first 10 seconds of being on your website, that’s going to be a problem. A simple sentence, much like what you saw when you landed on this website’s homepage, can help clarify if your business is right for them.
For instance, on the homepage here, our sentence reads:
“Seattle Wedding and Portrait Photographer”
In this sentence, we say who we are, what this is, and who it’s for. Pretty dang clear. If people want even more information, we have a learn more button that takes them to an About page that explains the company, its founder (me!), and how it all works. The company StoryBrand that specializes in helping businesses craft their business messages put out a great article featuring the 5 Smartest Homepages. Check that out for some inspiration and more examples.
02. Services + FAQs
If you have a business website, you’ll need a services page that clearly layouts everything you have to offer to a client. When someone is hunting to hire a professional for a particular job, they want to be able to eliminate or proceed with a business quickly. As a wedding photographer, I clear list that I photograph weddings and engagements…not events or bar mitzvahs or seniors.
Paired easily with a services page is a section for FAQs, frequently asked questions. This is a small compilation of the things your clients have asked you most commonly and that will help the next client have more information upfront. As a wedding photographer I had questions like these:
“What’s included in my package”
“When do I get to see my photos?”
“What happens if you can’t make it to my wedding?”
“How do I book you as my photographer?”
Having simple questions listed on your site with their corresponding answers not only gives your customers what they want, but it saves you a TON of time from answering the same questions over and over again.
03. Samples of Your Best Work
You may have heard the phrase “only show the work you want to attract” and that is 100% true when it comes to your business website. As a photographer, many beginners try to be a jack of all trades. They want to photograph families, weddings, babies, seniors, businesses…basically anything that moves and will pay their bills. But what happens is that you become a jack of all trades and a master of none. Your clients become confused about what you specialize in and question your authority in your genre.
Your portfolio should show your strongest work in the category that you want to continue attracting work in. If you’re a graphic designer and you only want to work with tech start-up companies, then don’t show design work for florists and calligraphers. Keep those in your back pocket for when you have a specialty client who needs something in that style.
Ah yes, the blog. The thing that most of us don’t enjoy spending hours working on and dedicating ourselves to but the thing that does a TON of work for us in terms of SEO. When you create a website, Google sends out its little spiders to crawl that site and determine your site’s domain score or authority on a topic. So how do you stand out against an ocean of other websites about your topic? By having quality content for your customers to consume and for spiders to crawl, aka, a blog.
Blogs allow you to write in-depth on topics that are relevant to your business and to your customer’s interest. These add to your authority on a topic and boost your score in Google’s eyes. This doesn’t mean that you need to be churning out a blog post every day. Instead, this means you need to create a few high-quality pieces of content once or twice a month. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but high-quality content takes a long time to build, craft, and cater to the audience it’s made for.
05. Reviews + Testimonials
As you begin to build your customer base, this is a golden opportunity to ask for reviews and testimonials that you can attract more customers with. How many times have you gone to Amazon.com to buy something and you see how many 5 star reviews it has? We as consumers put more trust in each other’s reviews than we do in what the company tells us about a product.
When you’ve completed your services for your first few customers, ask them kindly to write a testimonial that you can share on your website. Also, give them a space to give you direct feedback outside of that testimonial.
When I first started as a wedding photographer, I had a dear friend who gave me some very direct feedback about my communication skills that she opted to leave out of her review but tell me personally. I thanked her for her candor and used that learning moment to propel myself forward into better communication with my couples moving forward.
06. Email lead capture
“But Sarah, why do I need an email list!?”. Great question. Basically, people are continuing to have their bubbles of influence shrink smaller and smaller based on social media platform algorithms. Do you know what doesn’t have an algorithm? An inbox. And even that could change one day.
Having an email list is the only way to have complete control over your “following”. Imagine if Instagram or Facebook shut down tomorrow. How would you get in contact with your customers? How would you show them the latest and greatest content you’ve created just for them? Answer: via your email list.
There are great platforms that are SUPER straightforward and make this lead capture easy. I personally use FloDesk. You can use this referral link to get 50% off your subscription!! (Crazypants!)
07. Contact Form + Contact Information
And of course, probably one of the most important items in the list of top 7 must-haves for your website, the contact page. Depending on what CRM system you use or what information you want to collect upon inquiry, you can custom create your contact form. This is the first point of contact with potential clients, so you want to collect as much information as possible to cut down on “back and forth” emails, and get them the information they need as fast as possible to boost your booking potential.
But don’t forget, sometimes people just want to snag your email address for other purposes (vendor check-in or a follow up), so have your business email listed separately from the contact form.
Here is a list of some items you might want to include on your contact form:
Social Media Handle (or proof their a real human)
Phone number (retro but useful)
Services they’re interested in
The list goes on and on but a great exercise is to think about what exact information you would need from someone to write a complete bid for the work based on your industry.
The Wrap Up
Whew! That was a lot of information I know and there is so much more information out there on the internet to break these sections down even further. However, I truly believe that if you incorporate these items into your website build from the get-go, you are going to be in really great shape.
If you have any questions, comment below and let me know!
p.s. If you liked this article, be sure to check out “How To Create a Website User Experience”!