Websites. Nearly everyone has one, and if you’re in business, you should definitely have one if you don’t. Do you know what makes any given website a good one? Have you been on a site and not been able to find what you are looking for? If it’s a store or restaurant site, how frustrating is it to not be able to find out their hours, location, or phone number? You and I have both been there. But there’s so much more to what comprises a good website. Let’s get started.
Your website needs actionable content. It should be crystal clear what you want the visitor to do. What that action is will vary depending on the type of site that you have and business you run. Regardless, make sure the information you provide is valuable.
Give the reader a means to interact with you successfully. This could be in the form of social media, e-mail, contact form, etc. (Note to self…do your links work? Are you getting feedback submitted on your site? Stop what you’re doing and take a couple of minutes to try them. Then come back and finish reading this blog post.)
Organize your content appropriately. Use short headings and sub-headings, with clean understandable copy. You want to keep providing updated content so your readers keep coming back. Keep in mind that having the right content is only one piece of the puzzle and by itself, doesn’t make for a good website.
The layout of your site is crucial to attracting and keeping your users on your site. The layout should be organized, simple, and clean, not-to-mention, color coordinated. You read that right, color-coordinated, meaning typically 2 to 3 primary colors that work well together. Graphics and photographs should be used naturally and flow with the site and not look or “feel” out of place.
Your users should never struggle with navigation. Fonts should be easy to read and not blend in with the background. The entire site should flow and follow the same design principles. This will help your users feel at home and easily able to tell that they haven’t been relocated to another site when browsing around.
In today’s world of smart phones, tablets, computers and everything in between, it is important for your website to be easily usable on all these platforms. The first key item is to make sure your site is “responsive” or mobile-friendly. This means the site can dynamically adjust to the size of the screen that your visitor is using and still retain its features. It should still be easily readable and navigable. You don’t need different sites for mobile and desktop, but instead one site that works well on both.
Also, the speed at which your site loads is crucial. Visitors will not wait and wait and wait for your page to load. We live in a microwave, immediate gratification society and the website loading is no different. Clients (or potential clients) want to see your content and they want to see it now. Kissmetrics found in a recent survey found that people would wait 6-10 seconds before abandoning a site that wouldn’t load properly, but that some people would even start abandoning at the 3-4 second mark. Moral of the story? Loading time is important.
Use consistency in the layout; have items where your visitors expect them to be. You don’t want to make it difficult for a user to find your search or your navigation menu. Don’t forsake fashion for function. It may look really cool to have the menu in a non-traditional location, but if people can’t find it, they’re going to get frustrated. This thought process needs to translate across device types.
Have your most important items above the fold (this is what the user can see without scrolling on your page). Your navigation, key actionable items, and what value your site provides them should all be “above the fold”.
Lastly, your site should work across the top web browsers, regardless of what type of computer or mobile device is using them. You never want a site that only works on one platform. Why limit the reach of your business in that way? Want more info on why usability is important? Click here to read our previous article on the subject.
Search Engine Optimization
In addition to the previous items, you also need to do the basics when it comes to search engine optimization. This includes plenty of written content (because that’s what the search engines can read), proper keywords and metadata descriptions for each page, and properly named images with appropriate alternate text. Wait – what does a “properly named image” mean? The name of the image should reflect what the image is about, which, in turn, should be related to the content on the page that contains it.
You also want to make use of links to both internal content on your site and to external content (on different sites). It’s also important to make sure you generate a sitemap and submit it to the main search engines like Google and Bing. There is a lot to SEO and this doesn’t really scratch the surface. But ultimately, an SEO-optimized site will generate more traffic, and if you are a business, can translate into more sales. For a free, basic SEO analysis, I recommend using Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer. It’ll give you a good indication of how good SEO is on your website. He is an expert in generating traffic to websites and provides a lot of useful information.
There are many facets to designing and maintaining a good website. We’ve briefly covered the basics here, but each one of the points could be expanded into an article of its own and this information applies to all sites, regardless of the platform used (WordPress, Joomla, etc). Here’s an additional article we’ve written about websites in the year 2017.
We’d like to hear what you think. What do you think makes any given website a good one? Did we touch on that topic? Reach out to us and let us know.