Nov 10

What Makes A Good Website?

Tag: Web Designadmin @ 2:31 pm

I thought I would take a moment to discuss “What makes a good website?”.

I get quite a few enquiries from clients looking for a new website, either they do not have one or their previous “designer” screwed up in some way and are now looking for a revamp or a new site all together.

One thing that is common though, is that clients have this vision of an all singing and all dancing website design with flash, rockets, animated graphics and all sorts of other “distractive” features!

People, get real! Your visitors do not want this, YOU DO! Are you trying to sell or entertain? Let me give you an example of a simple but effective website design. The google homepage. Do you think they will put lots of flashy images, movies and banners ads all over their homepage? Of course not.

Believe it or not, Google does keep the page to a very minimum(something like 28 elements/words) but makes very very subtle changes that most people do not even notice, but these changes are effective. Take a look at their post on search experiements back in August. Wow, no flashy content there eh?

It’s words and user experience that sell! Copywriting and call to action should be the main focus for your site, NOT fancy images and flash animations. For example, if you have a real estate site(of which there are many), what do you think your visitor wants? Some flash animation or the ability to search and locate a selection of properties painlessly? You got it, the painless information retrieval wins every time.

It’s about content and user experience and not so much image. Not that I am saying you should build a crappy website, just that the website should be focused on your goals and conversions, whether thats getting somebody’s email address, selling a product or service, or having someone signup to your newsletter. Its all about giving them what they want, which is:-

A Website That Is Easy To Navigate

Don’t make your visitor search too hard for what they are looking for. If you are selling property make sure your listings are easy to find and that if the search boxes are not on the homepage, make sure there is at least one link that is visible to that search page. You only have a few seconds to capture that user, make sure you use those three seconds well.

You also want to make sure you structure your site well, ie not too many deep directories. Keep the structure as flat as you can and your most important content(for users and bots) nearer to the top of the structure.

Good Internal Linking Structure

Make sure that you interlink your pages well by creating hyperlinks where neccessary back to other pages using keyword rich anchor text.

Nice, clean URL’s

If you are not using a content management system(CMS) try to make sure that your urls are keyword rich. for example

This makes the urls easier to remember, more descriptive for the visitor and will help with rankings as well.

If you ARE using a CMS system such as Joomla then get yourself the SEF plugin or something similar and get those urls rewritten using mod_rewrite.

Keep Your Images Small and not too much fancy flash

Once again, not too many oversized images and flash animations. They can be a bit of a turn off and in other instances become a real distraction. When you have someone in that sales funnel on your site, keep it simple and get them to that checkout asap. No distractions, no excuses.

Set Up A Blog

Blogs are a great way of telling your visitors about changes to your business and website. If its any good people may even subscribe to the blogs feed so that they can see your posts as soon as you create new ones. They are also good for internal linking and SEO so set one up. WordPress only takes a few minutes to set up so set one up today and start posting on a regular basis.

Good Use Of Page Headings

Its a fact that people “skim” text when visiting websites, looking for that indicator as to what they have been searching for. Its a bit like when people read a newspaper. They SCAN the paper for appealing titles and headings that catch their attentions. The same goes with websites.

Make sure you use good H1 and H2 header tages to format your pages correctly using your main keywords within these tags.

Clear Contact Information

Its amazing that sometimes you visit a site and it seems to take forever to find your contact info. Generally you want to have it on the home page somewhere that is visually accessible very quickly, for example top left or top right. Wherever you put it, make sure it can be found quickly. This is very frustrating for a visitor who needs to contact you quickly.

Well there are a few. There are in fact many changes that you can make to your site in order to make it more appealing and effective.

Don’t overlook the most obvious features of your new or old site. User experience NOT search engine friendliness is the most important aspect(and thats coming from someone who mainly deals with SEO). Its no good spending loads of money on SEO, PPC or any other marketing for your site if the users experience is not going to be up to scratch.

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