A good website is up to date with the latest trends both in design and functionally. It’s a good habit to adjust your website based on current shifts in web design, so that you don’t seem old fashioned and out of sync. There are many things that make up a good website, but here are my top 10.
1. Captivating homepage
The homepage is the first thing your visitors will see. Every visitor is a potential customer or follower, so you have to make a great first impression. It’s said that you have only 3 seconds to capture a user’s attention. 3 SECONDS! That’s really short! This means that your homepage must be so captivating that almost immediately your visitor says “Ooh” and keeps on clicking!
There are several ways to do this, but one of the most efficient methods right now is to have an animated featured banner spanning across the page. This helps set the brand of the website by mixing pictures with catchy headlines. Once this is done you can then include some more detailed information underneath as the user naturally scrolls down. JIB is an excellent example of this! They’ve even gone as far as to include a video introduction in the banner!
2. Good design
When I say “good design” I don’t just mean an attractive website. Of course your website shouldn’t look like someone just threw up on your computer screen, but stunning visuals aren’t everything. A lot of websites have good design because they are consistent with their tone and have excellent composition. Minimal websites are quite popular amongst designers because of the amount of breathing space there is between objects on the page. They are also very easy on the eyes because they remain clean and don’t overdo it with their colours and content. Websites like Mmminimal are a breath of fresh air. They say “Less is More”, so start off simple.
3. Good use of fonts
There’s nothing worse than seeing a website with bad use of fonts. Fonts are unique because when used correctly they can be a blessing, but used incorrectly can be extremely painful. Before you give your designer your choices of fonts, think about their role on the pages of your website. It’s a good practice to do a quick Google search on the best fonts for either headlines or body text. This will give you an idea of what could work best for the look you’re going for. The text you’re reading right now is called “Lato”, and for this website it was suitable for both body text and headlines.
With fonts come certain rules that you should be aware of, some of these are:
- Never use white text on a black background, or black text on a white background. This makes the text WAY too striking for the reader. Instead use either a light or dark grey on the text to reduce the intensity.
- Make the text just the right size. By this I mean don’t let the text be either too big or too small. Depending on the font you’re using, 14px/15px would normally be a good start.
- Create breathing space between the lines by increasing the line spacing. It should be enough so that your lines of text aren’t squashed together.
You should try to make use of the current fonts out there. There is an entire library in Google Fonts to try out, and these are free to download.
4. Implementation of jQuery
- Objects fading in/out
- Content moving across the screen
- Colours gradually changing
- Pop-up dialogs
- Sliding panels
For more information on how jQuery works, visit the official website or consult your closest web developer.
5. User and mobile friendly
User friendliness plays a big role in keeping a user on your pages. You might have recalled closing a window out of frustration in the past because the website was just so difficult to use. One thing that really irritates me is visiting a website where I’m not directed. There’s a whole bunch of content, but nothing telling me where to go next. On your website, think about the experience of your user and the journey they are taking. How do they get to the end goal, you?
You have to consider tablets and phone users too. Buttons can no longer be too small, so websites have started to accommodate mobile users by having buttons that are big enough to press with your fingers.
Responsive websites are a good way of increasing the usability of your site. Based on the size of the window or screen, the content adjusts automatically and makes the page compatible with a range of devices. A great example of this is HubSpot. Try reducing the width of your browser window and watch the magic happen! Cool, right?
6. High quality images
If an image is worth a thousand words, then a good quality image is worth much more. A good website with high quality content deserves high quality images. Images that are pixellated or are stolen leave a bad impression on your pages. If you want a user to stay on your website, captivate them with a powerful image that sends the right message and is nice to look at. It’s understandable that not everyone has the resources or the budget to take pictures of their own, but stock websites such as iStock Photo and Shutterstock have an endless library of images to purchase for a reasonable price. If you’re budgeting for a professional website, then put some money aside to invest in high quality images.
7. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
What good is your website if nobody sees it? Absolutely nothing! All the above points will be rendered completely useless if your website isn’t visible to the public eye. Part of this is due to your marketing, but a lot of your website visibility is affected by the SEO health of your website. Google has an empire over the internet, so you can’t afford to ignore them.
SEO is a big can of worms by itself, and is constantly changing based on the updates released. Despite this there are productive ways to make your website SEO healthy. One way is to keep your website constantly updated with new content, and the most efficient way to do this is to keep a blog. With a blog you can publish resources and news based on a schedule, so when the Google Spider crawls your site it can detect that you’re active and bring you upwards in the search engine results pages over time.
8. Content Management System (CMS)
We’re at an age where technology is developing at such a rapid pace, affecting the way we work. CMS platforms have become the preferred solution in web design because of the flexibility and freedom they give. Why should you use a CMS platform? The answer is pretty simple, it’s better for you in the long run. Platforms such as WordPress and Drupal come with functions that let you adjust the content of your website without any prior coding knowledge. This means that you don’t need to hire a developer to make minor changes to your website anymore. If you do need a major adjustment to your website, your developer can easily implement plugins that will boost the usability of your website. All this is done from any system with an internet connection. All you need is a user name and password!
9. Easy contact forms (with security)
If you’re like me, and shudder at the thought of calling up somebody to request information, then chances are that you prefer to send an email over and wait for a prompt call back or reply. Easy contact forms create a quick and easy way for users to get in touch directly from the website. The fields are customised to contain the information needed, and once a user clicks on the submit/send button all the content is sent to a designated inbox. Contact forms usually appear on a “contact” page, but they can be used effectively in homepage banners and side panels, and especially on landing pages.
No contact form is without risk of spam. However this will not be a problem if the right security solution is used. The most common form is the CAPTCHA security code, but there are other creative examples available, such as; a simple maths equation.
10. Cookie Law compliance