In another article, "How to Create Your Own Website in Eight Easy Steps", I outlined the steps I personally take to create my own websites and that of my clients'. Within this article I will go into more detail on Step Two: Which Pages? of that article.
What Exactly Are Web Pages?
The best way to explain web pages is to look at a website as a magazine. Within a magazine you have different pages for different topics within a certain niche, well the same goes for your website. Your website is made up of pages that discuss different topics within your niche. The pages within your website are referred to as website pages or web pages.
When creating your website you need to know which pages will be inside it before you even start to create it. There are a few basic pages that every website should have – HOME page, about page, products / services page, contact page and a sitemap.
Now some might argue that the product / services page, about page and sitemap are not manditory, I totally disagree. I believe these pages are manditory for the reason that every business type website needs them in order to let their potential and returning customers know about their business, and their products / services.
The sitemap should be mandatory on all websites, whether business or personal, as it has a triple purpose to:
1 – help search engines find all the pages within your website easily
2 – help those with a disability to navigate your website easier
3 – help those that are looking for something inparticular when you do not have a search site function
The first two, especially the second, are the most important.
For personal sites usually a HOME page, about page and a sitemap are enough, though most people have more than just those three pages.
Each page within your website has a purpose and it's your job as the website designer to be sure that their purpose is clear. This is especially important if you're also creating the content for the website.
Here is a list of pages you want to consider including within your website:
HOME – this page is usually the entrance to your website. It's purpose is to refer to visitors that came to your website looking for a solution to their problem, it should explain that problem and how it relates to you, and present the solution that you found for that problem. Although do not make it sound like a sales pitch. This will just turn people away faster than a blink of an eye. If a visitor feels that they're being sold to they will look else where. No one likes to be sold to, though we all love to hear how others solved the same problems that we have.
About – this page's purpose is to tell a brief history about your business (or self) as it relates to the website niche topic. Businesses should include their mission statement within this page.
Products / Services – within this page you'll showcase your products or services that your business offers, or if the website is a personal one, showcase products or services that you recommend that are related to your website's niche topic. If it's for a business, give clear information of the products and / or services and give visitors an option to contact you if they need more information. If this page is on a personal website do not over do it on products and or services you include on this page. Use it as a place to give personal reviews of products and / or services you recommend. This personal review along with the direct link to the product and / or service will go over much better than just a page with a bunch of links to products and / or services that you feel someone visiting your site might want to check out. I recommend having no more than 5 reviews on a single page, and you can link to other pages where you have more reviews.
Contact – the purpose of this page is to offer your visitors and / or customers a way to contact you. It's best to include all possible ways that someone might be able to contact you such as email address, a form that will allow them to email you directly from your website, phone number (if it's a business website) and mailing address. All of the above are extremely important to include for a business website. If it's a personal website you might want to have a form on this page for people to email you directly.
Resources / Links – this page is another great way to offer reviews on products, services and other websites that you recommend. Be sure that the resources you offer within this page are relevant to the niche you've chosen. If it is not relevant but you would like to include it anyways, be sure to mention this on the page with the link. (note: if you make these links open in a new window, mention this. Screen readers or those "new" to the Internet are not able to tell the difference between a link that opens in the same window or a new window so it's best to tell people this.)
Sitemap – this page is widely misunderstood. I have seen so many versions of sitemaps, and some of them have not been pretty. A sitemap should include all pages within your own website, and no links that direct the visitor to other websites. It should be a list of those pages and not a detailed summary of each page. For great examples of sitemaps look at the more popular websites such as Google, Yahoo, MSN or Amazon. These sites are excellent examples of ways to create an effective sitemap.
Articles – the purpose of this page is to offer your visitors additional information on the niche topic of your website. You should have a link to the page for the article (using the title text as the link), and a brief summary of that article. Do not just include a list of all your articles, some people are turned off by such lists and you will lose them to other sites that present their articles in a better format. For examples of how to present your list of articles visit article directories such as EzineArticles.com.
The above are some of the more popular pages you'll find that make up websites, though they are not all the pages that one could include in their website. What pages you include within your own website is up to you and what you want to present to your visitors.
Some Page Tips
When you create the layout for your pages, be sure to include links to all your main pages within each page. This will help not only search engines find your other pages easier, but also your visitors. Remember that all pages have the potential to be an entrance to your website. By having a link to the main pages within your copyright area (footer) and a navigational menu for your site near the top of the page, you increase the likelihood that when a visitor that lands on that page they will navigate to another page within your website.
All links for pages should have a title tag within their HTML code. The title tag looks like this …
title = "some text here"> Resource
The title tags is more for the purpose of screen readers than search engines and should give the visitor a little more information on what they'll find on that page. Do not go into huge detail, and do not put something like "website design resources" when the link is called resources, as the visitor will have already assumed this from the content of your website. If it's apparent to what will be found on the page if they click that link, then use the title tag with nothing within the quotes. For example …
Screen reader programs will recognize that the title tag is blank and will continue on to the next text on your site.
A website is made up of web pages, without out them you would have no website. When learning how to create your own website pages always be sure to include the most basic pages such as HOME, about, contact and sitemap, though remember that you're not limited to just those pages. What pages you include are up to you, just be sure that they're relevant to your website niche topic and will provide value to your visitors.