I’ve studied many many websites looking for design, navigation, and architectural ideas and it seems to me that there are three universal pages that ever single site should include. It doesn’t matter what type of site or industry the site represents these three simple pages seem to be universal in both importance and required. Every site should include an About, Contact, and Sitemap page.
The About Page
If I’m visiting a site for the first time and I’m really not sure what the company does or purpose of the site I’m looking for an About or an About Us page right away. This page should tell the user what your site is about and information about your company. Where your company located is also important. People can associate with a physical location because although your site might totally live in the world wide web we know that you are maintaining it from somewhere even if that is your parents basement.
The About page doesn’t need to be overly extensive, but basic information is required. For me I also want to be able to find actual people that work at your company instead of soemthing like “we have years of experience in X” or “we have been around for Y years”. Give me the name of a president, your chief officers or something so that I can associate this brand with actual physical people. This page is also the perfect location for the background or history of your brand.
The Contact Page
The Contact page is the next page that I want to easily locate. If I’m not able to contact someone about a site it really makes a site look fishy in my opinion. Provide a mailing address and a contact number for more traditional individuals. Email addresses are also nice, but what is becoming more of the norm, and for good reason in my opinion, is a contact form. For a college this would be the form for prospective students to request information or alumni to reconnect. For a business well this is your lead intelligence. These are the visitors that you REALLY care about and the ones that will potentially bring in the revenue. AKA this is really the most important page on your site. Making your visitor feel comfortable that they can actually contact you should they need something is important.
The Sitemap Page
Although most every site should be utilizing a sitemap.xml file and sending it to the search engines this isn’t the same as an actual web page that your users can visit and associate themselves with your site layout. This is important for usability and accessibility, but it can also help you manage your site architecture. Also although a search bot has your sitemap.xml it doesn’t hurt to have a sitemap page to also make sure that they are crawling all of your content.
Other Really Important Pages
So hopefully you have these basic, fundamental required pages on your site? If not what are you waiting for. As always remember it’s always about your visitors so make their experience as great and comforting as possible. If you are looking for some good examples just start looking on your favorite sites that you visit daily. Wanting a specifically Higher Education example there are thousands listed on eduStyle so jump over there and surf around.
Oh one final note. Although you see these pages called all sorts of things on sites (sitemap is commonly called a directory for example) remember that your audience is what is most important so use a descriptive term that they will understand.
Photo Credit: “Turn the Page” by jacqueline-w