10 rules for building a website + downloadable worksheet

Simple, scannable, searchable

Whether you’re new to the web or a full-fledged online expert, there are 10 rules that everyone needs to consider when launching a new website.

1. Use simple, clean design.

While it’s tempting to put every imaginable bell and whistle on your site, your visitors would rather you didn’t. Remember, your goal isn’t to dazzle them with your design skills — it’s to get them to follow through with whatever action you’re looking for (such as calling for appointments, buying something, or signing up for your mailing list).

Try to pare down anything that could slow down a customer’s visit or obstruct your point.

 

Too many social media icons, extra images and unnecessary information can make your site seem cluttered. Look at sites you frequent; chances are, they have a streamlined design. If you use a clean layout, your users will thank you for the improved experience.

Quick solution: GoDaddy Website Builder lets you build a gorgeous website in minutes with a huge library of ready-made, customizable templates. With simple drag-and-drop design tools, you don’t need any technical skills to create a professional-looking site.

2. Start with the five core pages

If you’re not sure what information to include on your website, the best approach is to start with the five core pages. These pages set the right expectations for visitors and cover your basic business needs:

Home

Add a prominent call-to-action, and the primary way you want visitors to contact you.

About Us

Create trust: Share what your business is about, why you started it and include photos of you or your staff.

Products/Services

Include things like detailed descriptions, images, pricing, warranty and return policy.

Customer Testimonials

Include quotes or reviews from satisfied customers. Check out this article to learn more.

Contact Us

Make it easy for interested visitors to get in touch by listing your phone numbers, hours of operation, location (with a map) and email address.

3. Use strong calls-to-action.

A clear, decisive call-to-action helps you generate sales and capture future customers. The most effective calls-to-action have a clear, explicit purpose; there’s no harm in telling people what you want from them, such as “call us for a quote” or even “order now!”

4. Include sign-up forms.

Email is an invaluable tool to create loyal customers and increase sales. Stay connected with your customers and potential customers by asking them to sign up to receive your online newsletter.

An email sign-up form helps you re-engage your existing customers, and promote your business to potential customers.

 

Entice visitors to sign up by offering something of value in return for their email addresses, like exclusive VIP offers, future discounts, or expert advice.

Quick solution: GoDaddy Email Marketing lets you easily add an email sign up form to your website, and helps you create and send professional looking email campaigns.

5. Keep information ‘above the fold.’

In web design, the “fold” refers to the bottom of a customer’s window on a web page; for visitors to see anything “below the fold,” they have to scroll down. If the content above the fold isn’t engaging, visitors are much less likely to bother scrolling for more, so make sure your most captivating or valuable content isn’t buried on the bottom of your page.

6. Invest in images.

Even on the web, pictures are worth a thousand words. The key is to make your visitors feel confident about what they’re buying. If your product photos are too small, or there aren’t enough product views, they might look around for better images and end up purchasing from a competitor. Even if you’re on a tight budget, a few product shots from a professional photographer can pay for themselves many times over.

7. Make it easy to contact you.

Make sure your visitors know how to get in touch with you. Display your business phone number prominently on your home page or have a dedicated Contact page in your site’s primary navigation. Customers want to know that you’re trustworthy and that there’s a real person behind the website.

Pro tip: Posting your email address online makes it more susceptible to spam, so consider using a contact form as a way for visitors to reach you.

8. Add customer reviews.

Consumers trust word-of-mouth, so share what satisfied customers have to say about your business. By adding these reviews, you’ll increase their confidence to do business with you. You can start by asking your top customers to write a few short sentences about your products or services.

Better yet, list your company on popular FREE online business listing sites like Yelp. These sites are set up to allow consumers to leave and share reviews. You can integrate some of these directly with your website so they update automatically whenever you get a new review, or you can hand-pick from the ones you want, and add them manually to your site.

9. Get personal.

Adding an About Us page to a website is more important than most people realize. When a new visitor comes to your site, it’s your chance to create a relationship with them and connect on a more personal level. People want to do business with people they feel they know and trust, so share who you are and your passion for the business.

Don’t make the About Us page a sales pitch.

 

Get passionate and get personal. Explain who you are, where you come from and why you started the business. Here you can introduce members of your team and share fun photos of you and your staff.

10. Make friends with Google.

Your website won’t do you much good if people can’t find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) makes sure that search engines like Google and Yahoo! find your website and rank it high in search results. There are countless articles on SEO and how to identify and use keywords and phrases on your site — plus our free SEO guide for small businesses — as well as some really good tools and services that can do the heavy lifting for you.

Free Website Planning Worksheet

Now that you’ve got the basic rules for building a website down pat, let’s get started! Simply check out our free Website Planning Worksheet. It’ll guide you through the fundamentals to get your site online.


Also published on Medium.

Image by: spdorsey via Compfight cc

Andrea Rowland
A former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for small businesses and web pros through her work as managing editor of the GoDaddy Garage. When she's not writing or editing, she likes to experiment with baking, travel, read, and dip her toes in the ocean.