May 20, 2016
It is pretty obvious that the content you would expect to see on a Website will vary depending on the type of website. For example, an eCommerce website will usually feature products and product categories more prominently than news or informational pages and a portfolio type site will definitely feature plenty of quality images.
Some content and pages which have become commonplace on a Website include:
About Us - an informational page featuring text and images which tell the user more about the person or organisation’s skills and history. This page is often used as a sort of CV to reassure visitors of business credentials, experience, etc.
Contact details - some sites can get away with simply including a phone number and email address in the header or footer (or both), but most will feature a dedicated contact us page which includes not just the expected contact information, but also an interactive contact form, Google map and perhaps a helpful find us feature.
Testimonials - Is it a good idea to include a dedicated customer testimonials page on a site? The trouble is that the testimonies can easily be faked so visitors might not take them too seriously. However, some well placed genuine reviews and recommendations from previous customers will help to lend credibility to a service business.
Latest News / Blog - of course there are blogs which are the sole purpose of the Website and they stand on this content alone. But even a small business with regular updates that are of interest to customers can benefit from including a news or blog section. This will help to keep the site fresh and keep visitors coming back - and, if done correctly, can even be a help with SEO.
Terms & Conditions - should include any legal content relating to a business offering. Often a T&Cs page will be linked to in the footer of a website and not included in the main site navigation (think small print).
Delivery & Returns - essential information for an eCommerce or shop website. This information will not only save on phone calls and emails but will also provide reassurance to potential customers and ensure that an online retailer is taken seriously.
Copyright - a simple statement in the site ‘footer’ will often be all that is needed, but websites featuring unique creative material might require something more. For example, a comprehensive statement could be featured in the Terms & Conditions.
Most of these examples should be pretty familiar. This isn’t intended to be a definitive list, and there will always be exceptions and additions just as there is offline in a shop premises, office or workshop.
But apart from the expected text and images, is there any content that actually must be included to make sure a website is legal?
On 1st January 2007 it became a legal requirement for a Limited Company to include on its website its company registration number, along with its place of registration and registered office address. It doesn’t need to appear on every single page of a website and the information could simply be included on an ‘About Us’ page. I like to include the company registration number and place of registration in the site footer and the registered address elsewhere (this information should also appear in emails and on order forms).
If the business has a VAT number it should also be included, even if the Website is not being used for direct transactions. So just because you don’t have an eCommerce Website, doesn’t mean you can get away with omitting the info. See http://www.out-law.com/en/topics/tmt--sourcing/e-commerce/the-uks-e-commerce-regulations/ for UK website legal requirements in more detail. The section “Minimum information to be provided” sums it up very nicely.
Once the legal requirements are met, the actual content of any website will ofcourse be unique to its own business identity. If there was a single template to cover all bases then the web would be a pretty boring place, wouldn’t it? Thankfully, just as in ‘real life’ the web provides us with a huge diversity; both in design and content.
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Tony Williams is the founder of TDL Web Developments and specialises in creating effective and affordable Web solutions for local businesses in Wirral.
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