Eight Characteristics of a Good Website
Is your website producing the results you hoped for? Are you serious about the effectiveness of your online investment? This article explains eight basic ingredients of a successful website. Take note, because missing an ingredient can result in a poor aftertaste for your website visitors.
1. Original, Fresh Content
Content is king in the web world. People visit websites for the primary purpose of finding content, so make sure you deliver. Website content should be unique and up to date. Fresh content will keep visitors and search engines coming back for more. Don’t forget to proofread!
2. Target Audience
From a quick scan of your website, visitors should be able to determine what you offer and how you can benefit them. A good website will have headlines and text that speaks to the target audience’s needs and wants. Many websites simply list what their company does without saying how they can benefit their target audience. Keep your audience in mind when designing your website to be sure that it will appeal to them and encourage them to take action (whether that is to submit a contact form, signup for a newsletter or buy a product).
3. User-Friendly Navigation
A good website has content that is easy to find. Pages should be organized and named in a way that the target audience will easily understand. For instance, a services page would be better labeled “Services” than “Business Solutions.” Keep your navigation consistent from page to page to avoid any possible confusion. Double check all your links to make sure they are working. Make sure that your most popular content is no more than a click away from your homepage. If your website has a lot of content, provide a search box so visitors can quickly find what they are looking for.
4. Simple and Professional Design
A good website will have an attractive layout that is easy on the eyes. Be sure your colors contrast well and your text doesn’t require a magnifying glass to read. Personally, I can’t stand reading large amounts of content written in white on a black background. It strains my eyes. Reducing the contrast a bit can help (light grey text on dark grey background).
Lots of text can overwhelm a user. Breaking up text into subheads and bullet points will improve the layout of the page and make the text more scannable. No one has time to read every word on a page.
Use design elements to draw attention to or to enhance the content of a page. With every design element added, take a step back and make sure it serves a purpose and does not detract from the usability of the site. Put things where users expect them to be. However, do try to make your website look unique. Just remember that simple, professional design will be much more effective than flashy, overcrowded design.
How many seconds will you wait for a page to load before you give up and leave a website? Many factors can affect the loading time of a website including coding, number of graphics, the server speed, traffic volume on the website and the capabilities of a user’s computer.
Make sure your server has the proper amount of space/bandwidth for your website and that your website code is lightweight. Use large graphics sparingly. Use CSS styles in place of graphics where possible. Waiting for large graphics or a fancy flash animation to load on each page will surely turn away some visitors.
6. Search engine optimization
SEO is one of the most commonly neglected aspects of a website, but a website is useless if no one can find it. Think about the keywords that users may search for to find a product or service you offer. Do some research to see how often those keywords are searched for through a tool like Google’s Keyword Tool. Use keywords in titles, meta tags, headings, file names and in the content of your site. Search engine optimization can mean the difference between getting 500 visitors a month and 500+ visitors a day.
7. Link building
Links are an important factor in determining where your website appears in search engine results. Find as many legitimate sites as you can that will link you your website. Add your link to your business profile in directories like Google Local, Yahoo! Local, Merchant Circle, Insider Pages, Yellow Pages, LinkedIn and more. Submit articles and PR to sites that will include a link back to your website. The best way to get links to your site, however, is to provide unique and interesting content that people want to link to. You can make it easy for them to share your content by providing links or buttons such as the addthis.com button.
A good website is a work in progress. A nice tool like Google Analytics will keep track of the number of people who come to your website, what pages they viewed, where they came from, what keywords they used in search engines, how many left after the first page and more. Unlike other media, websites can be easily tracked to see what is working and what isn’t. This data will help you to improve the quality and structure of your site.
Remember to include these characteristics in your next website design project. A professional-looking website with interesting content that is easy to navigate and can be found in search engines is sure to bring value to your business.
Feel free to comment. What other ingredients can spice up a website? What has been your most effective strategy in gaining website traffic?
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