What makes a good website? A good website focuses on the basics.
By Chris David
What makes a website into a good website? What makes a good website into a great website? Is it design, colors, graphics and flashy animations? Not really. Good websites and great websites focus on the basics.
You might spend thousands of dollars on your company website. More importantly, you’ll spend many hours of your time. So do it right, and make your website ready to take your business higher. Flashy designs and animations are fine additions. But to make your company website useful for you and your customers, start with functionality, minimalism and high quality content.
How do you use these website basics to deliver results to your business and a good experience for your customers?
Optimize the structure
When designing your site, consider the structure. What are the most important pages that tell the story of your company and your services? Where do you want your visitors to go first? Which pages do you want search engines to list at the top?
The most important pages on your site should be linked in navigation. The navigation links will be included on all pages within your site. This is a way of telling people (and search engines) which pages are the most important.
These pages should also be at the root of your site (i.e. first level pages – website.com/importantPage.htm).
Use directories and sub-pages for content that might be secondary in importance. Visitors can find these sub-pages while browsing, but your important pages will always be linked in navigation and visible at the root of the site.
You can also link the main pages of your site in your footer and site map.
Focus on minimalism
Don’t overdo things. Make your site as simple as possible without sacrificing functionality. Keep the theme and design clean. Of all the top websites, most have simple white backgrounds with black text.
So use colors and images sparingly. Your brand is important, but you should use a color scheme with one primary and one secondary color. Use accent colors, but only when necessary to draw your visitors’ attention to important functions or info.
When considering a design element for your site, question the purpose. Are you adding a new image or feature that will provide functionality for the visitor? Does it provide information? Are you adding it just because it looks good?
Keep the site as minimal as possible, while only adding features that provide specific functionality or information.
Keep it consistent
Consistency makes another important aspect of usability. Define a theme for your site and stick to it. Use the same fonts and colors for elements of like purpose. Maintain consistent font styles for headings, article text and forms.
Stick to a single theme so your users will know the purpose of elements without having to guess.
Only break from your theme when you really want to draw the visitor’s attention to an area of unique functionality.
Make it fast
A fast website, according to Google and others, will load all resources in about 3.5 seconds. If your site takes longer to load, your customers will exit and go to another site.
So make sure you have a fast web host. And optimize your site to be as fast as possible. Optimize your images. Remove unnecessary plugins. Streamline your styles and your code.
Competition is heating up, and the speed of your website is more important than ever.
Make it useful
Why is a visitor looking at your site? More than likely, they are not simply admiring the design. A visitor to your website is there to get information on your company. They are looking to buy a product, book an appointment, read an article or get in touch with you.
Make sure that whatever you’re selling is front and center. Ensure that your site functions as intended. Test your forms and buttons. Constantly check your website for broken links.
Nothing will turn a visitor off quicker than broken functionality, so make your site functional and useful.
Go mobile friendly
Up to 70 percent of web traffic comes from mobile devices. This means that the vast majority of visitors to your company site will be on their smartphones. Smartphones and tablets are just so convenient. So while it may be tempting to design your site for laptops and computers, and worry about the smartphones later, don’t make this mistake.
From the very beginning, plan your site with smartphones in mind. Visualize your logo, your navigation and your content on mobile.
Making your site as fast as possible plays well with the smartphone segment. Keep in mind that smartphones might have a slower connection and limited bandwidth. Images should be optimized, and large files kept to a minimum.
Consider your audience
What is the target market for your site and your product? Does your target audience have special usability needs? Think about your fonts, colors and images. Could some of your design elements be difficult to read or understand?
Some visitors may have trouble reading small text. Some may have difficulty discerning elements with low contrast. Others might have trouble seeing certain colors.
So stick with minimalism and consistency in your website design. Increase the contrast and size of text elements in line with the needs of your target market.
Create good content
When it comes down to getting visitors to your site, the content is what counts.
Are you writing articles and blogs? Make sure your posts are detailed, interesting, factual, understandable and actionable. Check your spelling and grammar before publishing.
Are you selling a specific product on your website? Don’t just write a title for your product and call it a day. Write a detailed, multi-paragraph description of your product. Explain the purpose and the benefits. If your product has technical specifications, include every detail you can.
There is no one rule to create good content for your site. But start by writing detailed text for all posts, products and pages. Many hire professional content copywriters for this purpose.
You want to make sure your website keeps compliance with the latest standards. Such standards include accessibility, privacy, security and copyright.
For example, people with visual impairments might use screen readers to access your site. If your site lacks descriptive text for images, forms and buttons, a screen reader will not be able to read the content aloud.
When you do business in certain markets, you must follow the laws for privacy and security in those markets. If you’re handling any credit cards, financial or sensitive data on your website, make sure to invest in security. Depending on your needs, you should talk to a cybersecurity expert.
Always follow copyright, and only use licensed or public domain images and content.
You’re going to spend money and time building your company website. So make sure you do it right the first time. Building a good website starts with the basics. Plan ahead for an optimized page structure, site speed and mobile-friendly design. Keep your design minimal and consistent.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are they looking for, and what do they want most from your site? Put key information front and center, and make sure everything functions as intended.
Once you have the basics of your site, build out your content with detailed, long-form text. Consider the needs of your audience and maintain compliance.
Sales pitch… Get in touch with ComputerKick for a free assessment of your website.