To small business owners a website is an asset which offers visibility, an avenue for creating reputation and trust, a resource for current and potential customers and perhaps most importantly, a point of sale.
For a website to perform to its fullest potential it must be developed and optimised with a thought to focus and organisation. The exact composition of your website will depend a lot on your business and the types of products and services you provide, your location, whether your business primarily trades on the internet or within your local area.
With that said, however, there are basic elements which are common to virtually all business sites and are a good place to begin the construction of your own.
The about page should contain information about you and your business; you can explain how or why you started the business, your experience and qualifications and why your suitable to fulfil the customers needs.
This page not only establishes your qualifications for the job, it also helps create an element of trust as the customer understands that they are dealing with a real person as opposed to a faceless entity.
The product catalogue is a vital component for ecommerce websites as it is, in effect, your store front. You'll want to include your full product range as well as provide detailed photographs and text descriptions.
Remember, your customers won't be able to pick things up, feel the weight or determine what a product is made from, so you have to tell them.
If your business is a service provider rather than a retailer you'll want to focus on a predominately text based description of the services you offer.
Depending on the nature of the business it may, or may not, be appropriate to highlight key elements using bullet points and abbreviations to really focus attention.
Again, depending on the nature of the service it may be a good idea to assign each service to its own page. This maintains the overall organisation of the site and makes it easier for customers to navigate.
A portfolio provides a documented (often photographic) record of your work history. A photographer, for example, will display a collection of their best photographs whereas a builder might use photographs to highlight examples of good workmanship.
A comprehensive portfolio provides customers with a confirmation that your business is good at what it does and is therefore worthy of their custom.
Clearly, an important part of doing business is communicating with customers. The contact us page, as the name implies, will contain all of the methods that customers can use to contact you such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses, for example. This information doesn't necessarily need its own page however it should be displayed in a prominent location.
The composition of your website will depend on your business and the products and services you offer. The more diverse and complex your product range the larger your website will have to be in order to maintain an organised and easily navigable state.
The importance of the about and contact us pages cannot be overstated. In effect, this is your chance to make a good and hopefully lasting impression on the customer and secure their custom.