Website pages — how many and which ones?

What website pages are essential? How many do you use?

Anatomy of a rebrand, part 3

I’m deep in the design process now for the new Magnolias West website. As I started fiddling with the menu (nav) bar, I took a minute to really think about the main nav items, and about what website pages I want to include and which might be eliminate-able.

What website pages are essential? How many do you use?

I really want to simplify the new iteration of my site, for a couple of reasons. This will be my first responsive website* for myself (after designing and developing responsive sites for my clients for the last 18 months), and I’m designing with functionality and ease in mind. In a responsive site viewed on mobile, sidebars appear below the main content, and there can be a lot of scrolling when you’re on an iPhone. So… no sidebars (for now anyway).

Second reason: simplicity for simplicity’s sake. My goal is to keep the text lean, and to embody and manifest the principles of heart-centered empathy-based marketing in as few pages as possible.

Well then, what website pages are essential?

My current Magnolias West website has seven main pages:

  • Home
  • Start Here
  • Who I Am…
  • How It Works
  • Work with Me
  • Blog
  • Connect

As of this moment, the new site will have only five:

  • Home
  • About Me
  • Let’s Work Together
  • Blog
  • Connect

A few words about the pages that are being eliminated

The Start here page. Also known as Is this you? or New here?, this page is a key element in empathy-based marketing. I learned this method of tribe- and practice-building from some amazing teachers, and in a large part from Mark Silver of Heart of Business (who is also the source of the doors and windows magic mentioned below).

The way this teaching has landed in my heart is this: Speak to and about your ideal client before you speak about yourself. Or: Roll out the red carpet for your ideal client so that he or she feels seen, heard, recognized, welcomed, and like they’re in just the right place. The “Start Here” page is a great way to do that.

Notice its placement in the order. It comes after Home and — most critically — before I start talking about myself and my badass expertise.

I’m going to combine what I’d put in a Start here page with my Home page text and see how that works. Hey, it’s WordPress, and there’s plenty of space. I can always add it back.

The How it works page. I have never really felt that this page served my site, as it’s very similar to the page called Work with me. This one is an easy one to drop. And since I’m in a dropping mood (for the sake of simplicity), it’s gone.

Website pages — what order?

Of course, you create your nav menus with a reading order in mind, but there’s no way you can guarantee that your imposed order will be followed. Think about it: Do you ever read a website in order? Of course not. Something will catch your eye. Or you’ll enter from an external link and go on from there.

Knowing this, go ahead and create your website pages in the order you’d like them to be looked at, and then employ this amazing magic trick to increase the odds that your reader will check out the stuff you think is important:

Create doors and windows at the bottom of each page.

Yup, leave easy paths for your reader to follow at the bottom of each and every main page. At the end of the text on each page, add a paragraph that reads something like:

Want to know more? Check out my About page or subscribe to my newsletter.

Keep it to two links — no more. Keep it simple, and trust that by including these doors and windows you’ve added a few inviting and engaging links to those that appear in the menu itself.

That’s it from me today. Now I’d like to hear from you. How did you decide what pages to include in your menu? What do you know that I should? Share your questions and tips in the comments. Blessed be.

*Responsive websites are designed to be read on tablets and phones as well as computers; Google encourages responsive and penalizes non-responsive in search results. Which is a very good reason to upgrade your existing site if it’s not responsive already. You want to be found, right? And yes, I can help. Want to talk?

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

    • Melissa, thanks. I’m getting excited. Now to get through the rest of the design and content creation process!

      Breathing. Breathing.


  1. I know this is a tough process and I appreciate you sharing the journey with the rest of us. I particularly relate to “hey, it’s wordpress. I can always add it back if I want.” Keep on keepin’ on, my friend. It will be magnificent.

    • Andrea, thanks. It’s been really helpful for me to chronicle this upleveling and rebranding.

      What a journey!

      Love and light,

  2. Sue, this is so helpful! I appreciate your sharing and transparency around rebuilding your website, especially since I’m on the cusp of some overhauls myself. Damn you’re good, woman…xoxoxox

  3. It is interesting to read your process in creating your new site, Sue. My designer and I went through a similar process, however, my navigation bar was limited so we had to use some drop down pages under certain navigation headers. When I wanted to add a “Work With Me” page last year, it could only go in a drop down, so I put it under the “About” page. We have a lot of pages and headers, like “Playground” (where my art and musings and hippie values pages sit under), and of course my “Book” header among others. I like your idea of the click through at the bottom of the page, although we did put my signup in the right sidebar, as that is something my developer suggested. Lots to consider when designing a site, indeed. I am looking forward to seeing yours finished. xo

    • Thanks Beverley.

      So much of these changes are huge departures for me. Exciting. Scary. So many decisions.

      I really want to end up with a customized set of templates I can live with for a while, that’s for sure!


  4. Thank, Sue!

    I love how you’re walking us all through the process with you. These points are really excellent, and I know how frustrating it is as a reader to get to a site and not feel like you are part of their world.

    Thank you for the excellent resources, too. I’m looking forward to seeing your new site!

    Big Love,
    ~ Jenny

    • Jenny, hi.

      Yes, when I can make my reader feel at home and engaged, I’ve done a good job!


  5. Very helpful to be privy to your design process. We are so grateful we found a most wonderful web designer for our product & have continued to work with her as a coach, teacher, guide, retweaked site, Seo, everything we needed & still do.

    I never knew there was a category called empathy based marketing & it makes so much sense. I understand & like moving ‘start here’ to Home & the focus is the client. Yup- but maybe call the page something other than Home. Home implies you, not client. Find a word that conveys Home & Start Here that will have the client feel at home, Call it The Red Carpet as your first page. Now wouldn’t that be intriguing. Just a thought-

    • Roslyn, what an inspired idea! “Red Carpet” is lingering. Although I think Home is something people look for.

      Another commenter (in a Facebook group) suggested I add that Is This You? text to the About page, which I also like. There would be two sections. About You and then About Me.

      So. Many. Decisions!

      Thanks for your thoughtful and juicy input.

      Love and magic,

  6. Sue, I find you to be such a giver! Even in redesigning your own site, you share the process with your readers, so we can learn from you. Thank you. Now I’m off to reassess my site. 🙂

    • Tae Lynne, you are so welcome!

      Let me know if you want some help with your assessment.

      Blessed be.

  7. Your pull toward simplicity so resonates with me right now, Sue!

    As my schedule reaches capacity, I feel a stronger and stronger call to simplify and streamline my offerings, which is then reflected on my website. Still a work in progress, but each step in that direction feels really, really good.

    Wishing you an abundance of goodness in your own simplification and change process!

    • Dana, thanks so much.

      I think your evident simplicity has begun to rub off on me. That’s such a good thing!

      In gratitude,

  8. Love that you’re moving to a cleaner, simpler site. I’ve been thinking about streamlining my own site – watching you for ideas!!

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