What Makes a Good Website Great?

What are the essential traits of great Web sites? After you visit a site and find yourself staying awhile, what makes you stay? A sense of humor helps. Flashy graphics are nice. But the fundamental traits that make a site work are more elusive. This article will break down the essential characteristics of great Web sites into some easily followed rules of thumb.

[toggle title=’Website Content’ close = ‘closeAll’] Simply put – if a user can’t find information they are looking for, they have no reason to be on your site and won’t stay there. You need to make sure content is easy to find; and can be found in a variety of ways if possible. For example, having a consistent navigational menu, a sitemap, footer links, and internal page links are all excellent suggestions.

A built in search function is also a great feature to have. All in all, make sure you take every step possible to ensure the user experience is a good one. Allowing them to find content easily certainly provides this ability.

You should also try to keep content fresh. Not only will fresh and updated content be more likely to keep visitors returning but Google itself considers the freshness of content an important value when determining rank.
[/toggle] [toggle title=’Appeal’ close = ‘closeAll’] How many websites have you seen that may have had a great product but you were reluctant to purchase because of a poor design?

Unless you are one of the big boys like Google, you really need to make sure you look into your website design. It doesn’t have to be overly artistic but it should be appealing. Your goal is to keep visitors on your site and to keep them coming back. A poor design defeats that purpose.

Keep things are where most users expect them to be. If you can’t get your website to look great, meet the user half way and promote a sense of structure and conformity. Set out your page elements to be where the user expects to see them.

For instance, keep the logo in the top left, have top bar navigation and/or sidebar navigation or panels. Use a search function and use your footer area effectively. Your main content area should be obviously easy to read and void of clutter.

This is by no means a must do but it is what the majority of users expect. The most important factor is keeping everything consistent like colors, headings, navigation and etc. Don’t have all your links different colors, some with underlines and some not. Don’t have top bar navigation on one page and only sidebar navigation on the next.

These are just a few main areas to target and are a good basis for a solid website design.
[/toggle] [toggle title=’Usability and Accessibility’ close = ‘closeAll’] This one is important for many reasons. Check that you have taken adequate steps to enhance the usability and accessibility of your website. Simply put “usability” is how easy a system is to use. “Accessibility” means access to everyone regardless of technical and physical means ranging from people with screen readers to those with mobile phones, PDAs or slow modems to even those that may have color blindness.

There are several tools that can help with validating just how accessible your website is regarding content and color as well as how to correct areas that may be in error.

You should also make sure there is always a way out for the user. No matter how good your website is, there will always be users who may get lost along the way. Having consistent top or sidebar navigation, a link back to the home page (on every page), search functions are perfect examples of what to do.

Another good idea is to have meaningful file names and URL structure. This isn’t only great for SEO, it aids in the user experience.
[/toggle] [toggle title=’Optimization’ close = ‘closeAll’] Optimization, as you know, can be defined within its own document but should certainly be considered when discussing what makes a great website design. A good optimization practice should not only include good search engine optimization but should also include page speed optimization, image optimization, code optimization and style optimization.

By using standard and effective optimization practices, your website can become a more effective tool in generating targeted traffic to your website and will help keep visitors there by providing a more pleasing user experience.
[/toggle] [toggle title=’Purpose’ close = ‘closeAll’] At the end of the day, if there is no purpose to your website, then it won’t be effective. Find a niche if you can. Find a reason to bring visitors back to your site and keep them there. A great website design meeting the aforementioned practices is a great way to start.[/toggle]

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