What makes a good website?
I frequent a number of web design and search engine optimization discussion forums. Almost all of them have a topic where people can submit their website for review and critiquing. The topic attracts ...
It really doesn't matter if a website has a flashy header, or even if it has fancy drop down menus that make a little noises when the mouse hovers over them. As long as the visitor of the site stays long enough to gather whatever is offered to them, then the website is considered successful.
There is a lot of research available on what attracts visitors to a website, and what makes them stay once they get there. The result of most of the research indicates that most people prefer similar basic concepts in a website's design. Anything else that is added to a website can actually be detrimental to the overall plan of the site. This is not to say that web designers should stop producing sites that amaze us with their use of things like color, animation, and creative ideas for layout. What it does mean is that a website should be designed with some key features in mind.
A website should be fast loading - Despite what some would believe, there is still a great deal of the population using dial up internet service. Most people don't want to wait more than a few seconds on a page to load. If a page is going to take too long for those people to load, they will simply use the back button and leave. That is a huge number of visitors that you can simply write off. Think of the potential buys that you just sacrificed just to keep your favorite song playing in the background.
Make a website easy to navigate - It will not help you sell your product, if your visitors cannot find it. Your website navigation should be clear and easy to follow. Too many links scattered around will only confuse and drive your visitors away. Your main navigation should all be located in the same place on each page. If they found a certain page by clicking on a menu located in the left side of the page, then that is where they are going to look first when they decide to go to another page.
Don't use too much animation - Placing too much animation on a page, will not only slow down the time it takes a person to open the page, but it will also focus their attention on the animation and not your product. The idea is for them to see the product, read about it, and then buy it. If you divert their attention from that plan, they will lose interest very quickly.
Split up long pages - Adding too much content to a single page will only cause your visitors to stop reading it. People do not mind clicking on a "Next" button. It gives them a little rest period while reading. What they do mind is scrolling 10 pages down just to find what they are looking for. Besides, more pages on a site equal more content, and more of a chance to use some anchor text. Search engines love that stuff, and anything you can do to suit search engines and customers at the same time, should always be taken advantage of. Including about 600-800 words in a page's main body is considered normal.
Make your text readable by everyone - Many new designers do not realize that a browser will only display a font style, if that font is installed on the user's computer. So, if you are considering using some fancy font that you found while surfing the Internet, think again. If I do not have that font installed on my machine, my browser will display something entirely different. It may be a different size, style, bold, or even too small to read. Use a font that is easy to read, and is normally standard on all systems. Such fonts as Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, and Helvetica, are all fonts that most computers will already have, and are commonly used in website text.
Make them search engine friendly - Let's face it. If people do not find your website, you are not going be very successful on the net. Creating a website that is search engine friendly, and optimizing your website for search engines will be well worth the trouble. Most people rely on search engines to bring them the bulk of their visitors, and if you don't do well in a search engine, you may be looking at some very costly forms of advertising to make up the difference in traffic.
The result that we all want from our websites is directly affected by how people perceive our design. If it confuses them or makes navigation difficult, they won't stay long and you will lose a potential customer. Keeping a website easy to use and looking professional is they key to success. In today's internet world, designers are coming up with new ideas and creating some fantastic looking websites. As long as the visitor feels comfortable on the site, they will stay and maybe even take something with them when they leave.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamey Perkins has spent the last few years working in website design. He is currently studying SEO techniques to further provide better service to his web design clients. You can visit his website on Search Engine Optimization and learn more about his techniques.