Although there’s no such thing as industry standards in the Web development projects, it is logical that certain information should be included on a professional Web site, no matter what are the site’s purposes. Beyond that, other things that go on your site are up to the client and you – the designer. The more informed the web designer and the site owner are about the entire Web design process, the smoother the finished product. Although you already know how Web sites should function or how they should look, it can be challenging to match your client’s needs with those basic concepts. Of course, the client could give you more constructive inputs if he knows the concepts behind web design and all the principles that determine content selection. To help you in deciding what, at least, should be on your Web site, these general guidelines should make the web development project more effective and easier.
At a minimum, a professional site should supply this basic information, so it is your job during a planning process to decide what kind of content the client needs.
Home page information
The home page is where your visitors first see your site after typing in the URL on the address bar. Other than setting the visual style of your site through proper use of images and Cascading Style Sheets (CCS), this page may include the company logo and/or name, site navigation, and texts describing the product or service. This is also the most authoritative page on the site because it introduces and represents your company. For this and some other reasons, a home page may need to contain at least a few descriptive and keyword-rich paragraphs (texts, not images of texts) that outline what visitors and search engine crawlers will find on the site. If possible, most important keywords in the text need to be hyperlinked to other relevant located on the site. Years ago, many sites used attractive introductory flash animations on the home page, one giant animation with an Enter button. Though, it may give a little “Wow” factor , they are usually a bad idea, especially because they lacked substantive, searchable texts which can prevent the entire site from being properly indexed by popular search engines. More importantly, when visitors can’t quickly scan the home page, they will likely leave and go to the competitor’s site. Therefore, it is necessary to make the most of a landing page by including only relevant texts, links, and images, using similar layout throughout the rest of the site. In general, consistency is key!
Some visitors will want to know a quick way to get in touch with the site owner. Always show the company’s physical address, telephone\fax numbers, and at least a contact e-mail address. It is also a good idea to include detailed contact information for key employees, services, and departments, and also location map, hours of operation, and transportation directions. Many sites have a form on their contact page where people can submit personal information, provide comments, request information and answer survey questions. If you want to collect certain data from your visitors, create a list of information you intend to collect so you can create a properly customized form.
If the company may share the data to a third-party organization, for example to the prospective buyer, you should state that expressly. It is necessary that you plan to honor the privacy of your visitors and tightly guard all collected information as if they are priceless gifts, state that explicitly.
It is an often-forgotten site element that has a list of properly arranged text links to every place on your Web site. If you plan to have your site fully accessible to all visitors (including those with disabilities and assistive devices), no matter how complex or simple the site is, you should include a site map. Alternately, if the site has pages with many categories, consider placing site map at the footer area throughout the site.