We all form opinions about the websites we visit—almost immediately. Some of them are informative and eye-catching to the point that it brings us back several times a week and others leave us with a negative experience or no experience at all and we never return again. But what many business owners ask themselves is, what differentiates a good (or great) website from a bad one? Truth be told, all individuals have opinions and tastes and we’ll never fully agree on which websites are good, great or just plain bad. But most of us can base our feelings on similar components. Let’s look at 7 key components that I feel are instrumental in the experience each visitor has and the feelings they are left with:
1. Purpose & Clarity
Prior to creating a website, you need to outline the purpose or goals of your website. Having a clear, well-defined purpose is paramount. Taking this time before diving into the design and development process can make or break a website. Owners who have a clear understanding of what they want to accomplish will be able to determine how the site should be managed, what content should be included and what messages will be communicated to visitors and how. Without knowing what you are trying to accomplish, you risk a lack of direction that can potentially ruin your chances of making a positive impact on your users before they even get to your site.
Visitors to your site are there to find the information they need or want. The truth is —today’s internet users are impatient and will leave your site immediately if they are unimpressed or can’t understand how your site functions. For example, a site that has a wide array of products should have an effective search function, product catalog, and a user-friendly shopping cart. You can never go wrong with keeping it simple when it comes to the design and user interface of your site.
Additionally, having a responsive and welcoming site will allow users to view and utilize your site across all devices. A site that’s based on a well-planned wire frame will also be compatible with mobile devices. This allows smartphones users to get needed information on the go.
Users are the ultimate determining factor in whether or not your site is successful. A user-focused site should be both functional and accessible. Often, designers or website owners become distracted by their own wants and needs for the website, and they sometimes forget about the wants and needs of the user or visitor. My job as a designer is to do my best to keep everyone satisfied and happy. Sometimes this involves offering an expert opinion that will remind the client that they are getting off the path from what their website should be achieving.
Your site navigation is more important than you may think. Having an intuitive and easy-to-navigate website will make your users happy and although it may not be the reason visitors come back, you can rule it out as a reason for them NOT to come back. Having a well-developed and intentional site map that is simple will go a long way. Sites that require excessive clicks or page links will only frustrate your visitor. Get them to where they want to go—fast and easy.
One of the obvious key components of your site is its appearance. The design should appeal to your target audience and present your company in a professional manner. Having a design that uses modern trends and appropriate functionality will appeal to users. Technology and design trends are constantly changing, so having a design that can last (or easily evolve) for years to come will secure your investment right from the start. A website that is not well planned will quickly become obsolete and will result in reinvesting in your site a lot earlier than anticipated. Your site design needs to fit and reflect your brand. Colors, typography, graphics, and photos must all work together as a cohesive package that will continue to be relevant over time.
6. Ease of Updates and Content Management
Having a brand new website is great but what happens when you need to update your content or add timely information. Unless you’re a savvy coder and you can make edits to your site, you’re either going to need to ask a developer to make edits to your site or make sure a Content Management System (CMS) is built on your site from the beginning. This is something a lot of website owners forget to think about when they are looking for someone to create the website. All of our sites are developed using the WordPress Content Management Platform (CMS). When your site is all polished up and ready to launch we will essentially hand over the keys and you’ll have access to update your content at any time.
7. SEO & Analytics
A great website with no visitors is just a waste and a shame. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will help drive traffic to your site. Having relevant site content will connect you with new customers. For example, let’s say you launch a site to sell car parts in the Tri-City area. When your customers Google “car parts Tri-City”, you want your site’s content to be recognized by Google as an appropriate match and include your site URL within the first page (ideally) of the search results. Incorporating tracking and site analytics programs will give you insight into what’s really happening on your website, from traffic metrics to keyword searches. Tracking also helps to target your potential customers, generate relevant ads, and create a higher converting website.
If you are considering your first website or wanted to refresh an existing one, we can help make your website great.