I am almost ready to launch a new website for The Essay Expert, and I have learned a LOT along the way. I decided to write my blog on the topic, and, as a reference, went back to an article I wrote almost seven years ago about website organization and flow.
I knew very little then, but did share a few important tips. While some things have changed, some things have stayed the same.
Here is my updated list, and a preview of The Essay Expert’s new website!
1. Don’t have more than eight (8) top menu items in addition to the Home tab.
With new menu formats, I’ve increased this number from six (6) in my original recommendation to eight (8). The menu items on my new site will be About, Testimonials, Services, DIY/eBooks, Media, Blog, FAQs, and Contact. They fit nicely and simply across the top menu.
2. You don’t have to make the top menu items clickable.
This is a change in my opinion from years ago. I think people used to expect the menu items to be clickable. Now all you need is clickable dropdown items.
3. Make your logo (generally the top left corner of every page) a link to your home page.
This is still a best practice. Do it! And don’t assume people know to click the logo to get to the home page. Put a Home tab on the top navigation too – you can use an icon of a house to save space.
4. Use creative solutions to help people navigate longer pages.
While anchor links are an established option for helping users navigate, there are a lot more solutions available now. For instance, use tabs on a page to allow users to choose the category of information that interests them. I will be using this option on my Testimonials page, where users can click on tabs labeled Executive, Mid-Level, Entry-Level and Admissions to see testimonials relevant to that category of service.
Another option is a pop-up window that provides information without lengthening the page. I will be using this option for items like “Where our clients have been admitted.”
5. Review your site regularly for broken links and fix or delete them. And for any broken links within your own site, create a unique 404 page.
This advice will never change. Constantly check for broken links!
For 404, I have created a page with a Mark Twain quotation! Here are some famously creative 404 pages for your reading pleasure.
6. Give your website viewers information about how the service or product works so they are educated before they buy, and before they call you.
Here’s how I’m doing it on my new site:
I’m also improving the descriptions of each of my services so site visitors understand what they will be getting when they make a purchase.
7. Don’t send people away from a page if you want them to purchase something on that page.
On my new website, I offer a complete “Resume and LinkedIn Success Package” (see above) that I expect to be the most common product people purchase. I also so have “a la carte” options available. But I will not mention those items until the bottom of the page.
Any buttons at the top of my executive services page will keep people on the page, either with a pop-up or a link to a service on the page itself. They will have to read through my most popular items before they find other options.
8. Whenever possible, offer a main product with optional add-ons.
On my “old” (current) site, I have learned, there are way too many options to choose from and people get confused as to which service is best for them. In my effort to accommodate everyone, I went a bit overboard.
The new site will offer one main package with add-ons. I’m excited to have created a streamlined experience for new customers!
9. Scatter testimonials throughout your website.
People want to know what other people are saying about you. Personally, even if I don’t read the testimonials on a site, I want to know they are there. Make sure if you offer different products that the ones most relevant to each product are on that product page. Also offer the opportunity for people to write reviews directly on your site!
On my new site, I will have testimonials on each page as well as a full page of testimonials for anyone who wants to read more.
10. Highlight certifications, awards, and media appearances.
What qualifies you to do what you do? Put it up front and center to gain credibility and trust!
There are many more recommendations and best practices for websites that I haven’t covered here. I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. And stay tuned for the launch of The Essay Expert’s new website… coming soon!