When designing a website, you basically have two types of pages: a homepage and a subpage. While the homepage acts as the front door to your site, subpages most often include the important information about your business, like your services, products or company information.
You only have one homepage, but you could have an almost infinite amount of subpages. Let’s assume your site has just 20 pages. That means 95 percent of it relies on subpages to effectively communicate with your visitors. They sound pretty important, right? However, the amount of time spent designing and developing these tends to fall by the wayside. Many websites I visit have a gorgeous homepage, packed with great design, awesome content and tons of functionality. I can tell the Web design team spent a lot of time and effort to make this one page perfect, and it shows. The unfortunate part is when I click through to a subpage, it tends to be a basic template with no love.
So why are subpages so often overlooked? It usually comes down to time and budget constraints, and failing to effectively educate the client on the importance of these pages. Let’s take a look at three key reasons we should all put a little more love into our subpages.
Google Search and Multiple Doors
I mentioned earlier that the homepage acts as the front door to a website, but let’s not forget that, like any home or building, there are usually several ways to get inside—a side door, back door or even through a garage. Think of subpages as those other entryways to your website. Let’s take Google searches for example: every month, there are over 10.3 billion Google searches; with 78% of US internet users researching products and services online. Google is constantly improving its algorithms to provide the best possible match to any search, so in many circumstances, your homepage will not be the first one a visitor to your website sees. Most likely it’s a subpage featuring the specific product or content they’re searching for.
Not All Content is Created Equal
Typically, subpages contain some of the most important content on a website. That information often needs to be presented in many different formats in order to provide the user with the best experience. For example, some content needs to be featured in charts or graphs, some needs to be condensed into tabs or accordions and other content is just fine being presented in nice neat paragraphs. These are just a few samples of different content formats that need to be planned out in the early stages of web design, and then styled and coded on the site. That could mean unique templates for certain pages. This is the kind of love and attention not often paid to subpages—it’s all too common to see content just dumped on the page, which makes the user work far too hard to find what he or she needs.
Be Kind to Your Users
Let’s revisit our 20-page site. Sometimes, it seems the bulk of the design and development effort is spent on just that five percent of the end product—the homepage. Sure, it’s an important five percent, and the “face” of the website in a sense, but at the end of the day, it’s five percent. Remember, on our 20-page site, 95 percent of it is comprised of subpages. Ninety-five percent! As an industry, we need to budget the time to make these great, and teach our clients about why this is so important.
Put yourself in a user’s shoes for one moment. You search for a service and you click and land on a company’s subpage. At this point, you’re reviewing the page to make sure this is relevant to your search, then looking for some other clearly defined options on what you’re supposed to do next. If that subpage is just a bland template, with no thought put into properly formatted content or strategically placed calls to action, the user is left hanging and is likely to leave the website. This is the opposite of what we want, so why leave it up to chance?
For your next web design project, keep these points in mind and don’t forget to show those subpages and your users a little love. Remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.