Web usability for beginners, part 2
As we discussed last week, making your website as easy to use as possible is important for two reasons: To help your visitors find what they’re looking for (which increases your chances of getting conversions), and to help your site rank high in the search engines (which increases your chances of getting more visitors).
Last week, we emphasized the need for a clean, easy-to-understand website layout. Today, we’ll dig deeper into this factor and talk about what actual pages should be included as part of your site design.
Here, then, are six essential pages to include in your site layout:
1. Home page. Every site has a home page — even if that’s the only page the site has. Since this is the starting point for many visitors (especially if your SEO efforts focus on delivering people to your home page first), it’s really the most important part of your site design. It should also be easily reached from everywhere else on your site; from any page (except perhaps a shopping cart page), visitors should be able to click your logo and instantly return here.
2. Blog page. As a webmaster, you have to make the decision whether to give your blog its own page on your site, or to offer it on your home page. If you choose to give it its own page, and if you then depend on the regular updates of that blog to fuel your SEO (as you should), then it’s essential to feature your blog entries prominently on your home page as well, and to make sure it’s easy for visitors to get to your blog from home.
3. About page. Even if you don’t have much to say about yourself, don’t ignore your “about” page. Most website templates (including WordPress) offer an automatic About Us page as part of the site layout, and you just have to write brief entries where applicable. This is a great chance to sell yourself. Tell visitors about why you’re qualified to write about this niche, and provide a bit of humor or insight — a reason to get visitors to return.
4. Contact page. Even if you don’t want people to know your physical address or phone number, it’s essential to offer at least an email address where you can be reached. If you don’t, you’re potentially missing out on some great opportunities for linking and networking.
5. SSL / security page. If your site asks visitors at any time for personal info — and even if it doesn’ t —offering a page explaining your security measures will go a long way towards giving them confidence in you. If nothing else, this page can just explain the security measures of your hosting company (most of which advertise a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and other appealing info that might convince visitors that it’s okay to click on your ads).
6. Newsletter sign-up page. Since the sign-up field for your mailing list is often included “contact” or “about” pages, it’s not always given its own page. And that’s probably a mistake: While newsletter sign-ups should of course be added to those pages — and all of your pages, really — it also deserves its own exclusive page. Why? So you can include a “newsletter sign-up” link on your website’s navigation bar (navbar) and provide users with the easiest route possible to get on your marketing list.
It might be easy to fit some of these concepts into your existing site layout; others might be more of a challenge. Either way, we advise testing and monitoring as the best means to find out if your pages and site layout are working in the way you want them to and helping visitors find their way around your site.