For the full version of the tutorial ‘How to structure a website’, please watch:
General things to keep in mind when creating your new website:
1. Your website is not about you! It is not to show the world how awesome you are but to show your potential client how much value you can add to his life or his business.
When you think about creating a new website, please always always start by thinking about your target group first. Focus on your potential client in every second of creating the website-concept! If you don’t know who your ideal client is, then I’d recommend you to start with a target group analysis. I can’t cover all the points now in this article as it’s such a big topic…
Typically when talking about target groups, everyone says you should know their gender & age, their profession, their industry, etc.
But honestly, that doesn‘t help you much if you don‘t know what to do with it. What we marketers are trying to figure out with all of this information, is what kind of characteristics your target group has. This helps us to know how we need to talk to them in order to speak their language and attract them to our business. Knowing the kind of personality type your ideal client has, will give you the biggest advantage when setting up your communication channels – and in this case, your website.
The more you know about personality types, the better you can use that knowledge now. Again, I can‘t really cover this topic in this tutorial, but there‘s tons of great literature out there, if you‘re interested in the concept. Think about this:
- Is your ideal client someone who‘s just out for the fun, very enthusiastic, creative and extravert?
- Or is your ideal client very caring, supportive, value-driven and more introvert?
- Is he or she very dominant, delegating many tasks, making all the decisions and super goal oriented?
- Or is your ideal client more the kind of person who knows every technical detail and wants to understand and do everything himself?
Depending on what kind of personality type your ideal client is, your communication needs to look completely different to really speak to them. The pictures you use, the colors you choose, what you write, how you write and how much you write, all of this influences if you‘ll manage to attract your ideal client to your business or you won‘t. The same obviously goes for the content and structure you use, when you’re considering how to structure a website.
- If you already have a couple of clients that match your idea of an ideal client, you can simply start by analysing what they have in common.
- If you‘re just starting out and don‘t have any clients yet to analyse, start by clearly defining who your ideal client would be. The service or product you offer should solve someones problems (if it doesn‘t, reconsider your business model). Whose problems are you solving? In most cases, they‘ll be your target group. Then try to find out more about them. Think about which blogs they might read, which influencers they follow, which facebook groups they‘re in, etc. Then follow them closely and listen actively. It takes a lot of time and patience, but eventually you‘ll understand your target group better and better.
2. Once you‘ve clearly defined who your ideal client and therefore your ideal website visitor would be, think about the goal of your website.
What‘s the one thing you want your ideal clients to do after visiting your website? Should they sign up with their email address to receive further information? Should they call you? Should they send you a message? Should they immediately buy something? What‘s the one goal you want them to do?
Now that you have the goal of your website clearly defined, you need to come up with a plan on how to guide your ideal client step-by-step to this goal.
3. Don’t see every page of your website as a stand-alone site but as part of something bigger.
Ideally all your pages together build a storyline: You catch your prospect at a certain point like e.g. your homepage and guide them step-by-step towards your goal (e.g. to fill out your contact form). But they won’t jump from your homepage directly to contacting you. They’ll first need way more information about yourself, your services, your references etc.
Therefore every page should have a catchy headline and at the end of the page one clear call to action that tells your visitor what to do next. (More about that in a second)
4. Your website itself is also just one part of a bigger picture – your sales funnel.
Think about how your target group gets to your website! Which information do they already have from you (e.g. through a Google ad or social media)? Which steps will follow after sending the contact-request through your website until they become your new clients? This helps you to provide exactly the information that your visitors are looking for.
Give your visitors as much information as needed in order to gain their serious interest and make them very likely to buy. But also leave some minor points open in order to make sure they’ll contact you personally to get everything they want.
That‘s for the general part the things I‘d like you to keep in mind when creating your new website. So now:
How to structure your website? How do you provide your visitors exactly the information they‘re looking for and guide them step by step towards your goal?
To come up with this content, I want you to completely forget for a moment, that we’re actually working on your website here. Think of it more like having a real conversation with your ideal client and then only split it into different pages afterwards. Again, the more you know about your ideal client, the easier this task gets. Example:
Let’s say you were a freelance video producer and your ideal client would be the organiser of a conference in London who is searching for someone to film the presentations delivered on stage.
He might search in google for something like “video producer London” and hopefully find you there. Now imagine how a conversation would go.
Obviously that’s a very simplified example but not even that unrealistic. So let’s take this example and split it into different sections for the website:
- The first few lines should build the page people enter when coming to your website. E.g. your homepage. Here you cover briefly who you are and what you do.
- The next part is going more in-depth about your services, where you’re talking about promotional videos, documentation of the presentations, etc.
- Then of course you’ll have a references-section with some examples.
- And the last bit regarding the e-mail address would be the contact page.
As we have the different sections, we can now create the framework for the pages. Remember: Every page should have a catchy headline and a clear call to action button. So let’s start with this:
Once you have the different pages, headlines and CTAs defined, it’s time to move away from the conversation-model and break the information down into a few keypoints.
After this, you already have a great outline for your website. If you’d like to take it one step further, then you can now create some wireframes for the different pages. What do I mean by that?
You simply take a sheet of paper, a very thick pen, and quickly sketch how you would like to show the information on your website. Let’s for example take the homepage:
- The headline we defined could e.g. go on a big fullscreen picture at the top.
- The content bit would go right underneath, maybe next to a small image of yourself.
- And then your experience could simply be some boxes with big numbers.
- At the end your call to action!
Within no time, you went from not having a clue what to write and which information to put where, to a quite nice sketch that already looks almost like a website.
But don’t worry if this last wireframing bit is too complicated for you. Your webdesigner will definitely already appreciate the content and structure you created and come up with wireframes and design solutions himself :).
How to structure a website – Conclusion
By using this conversation-method you ensure that your whole website will be tailored to your clients needs. It’ll create an easy to follow structure and your client will now definitely find the right information at the right time. You don’t constantly talk about yourself but focus on your client, his questions, deliver answers and guide him step by step to requesting a quote.
And after all – that’s the goal you have for your website, right?
If you need further help with creating a structure for your website, please let me know. If you need help in general with your marketing, this page could be useful for you: Small business marketing strategy.