Blog | What makes a good website?

Here's where we post info about interesting things we learn, what's happening in the Great Interwebs, and about all the fruits of our labour - the stunning websites that we design, develop and launch!

16 December 2013

What makes a good website?

A good website attracts visitors who return again and again, and presents your company image in the best possible way. Here are some guidelines for how to ensure your website is a success:

1. Be clear about what you want to get from your website. How will you know if your website has added value to your business?

2. Attractive.
The visual design of the website should be aesthetically pleasing, using the right colours, fonts and graphics. Simple, clear and logical are best. Part of this is ensuring that your website views well on different types of browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari) as well as screen sizes and resolutions.

3. Interesting
Know your audience and what appeals to them. Copy needs to provide useful information that visitors will be looking for and then call to action. Make as much information available as possible. Web copy should be written as if verbally speaking to the reader, using concise language.

4. Intuitive Structure
Navigating your site should be easy and clear to the user. Just having a fabulous home page isn’t enough. If people find it difficult to find what they’re looking for, they’ll give up.  The average time a person spends reviewing a page to decide whether it has the information they are looking for is 4 seconds so you need to grab attention quickly. A busy looking site is difficult to navigate. Don’t try to overcomplicate anything on your website. Make it obvious what the menu is and what is available. Make it easy to search the site and to contact you. Make it obvious who is behind the site and what the purpose of the site is.

5. Usable & Accessible

Not everyone has high speed internet, some are not computer or internet experienced. Make it easy for all users to access the information on your website. Remove barriers to account signups.  Create a site that lets people find what they need easily as possible. Provide features that make it easy for others tell friends about your website or bookmark what they've found. Make sure that these actions are readily available and free to the user.

6. Pulls, doesn’t push.

Pop ups, music, videos or documents that start automatically are a major turn off. Don’t impose anything on your visitors. In addition, offer them as downloads.

8. Search Engine Optimised (SEO)
Having a great looking, functioning site is useless if no-one knows it’s exists. Many businesses rely on people searching for a product or service in search engines. You need your site to rank highly or it will be missed. Try to use as many keywords or key phrases as possible as these are what search engines look for.

9. Link Building
One of the most important factors a Search Engine (Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc) takes into account when it is ranking your website is the number of links your site has linking to it from external websites.  The best thing you can do once you launch your site is spend time listing it on as many websites as possible. {to do: partner with SEO marketing company and have them write an article for us to use and link to}

10. Fresh

If you want people to keep coming back to your site, you need to regularly update it. Add new pages, delete old ones, create new offers, post articles and write blogs. Websites need to be constantly evolving to create a long term audience. If you are going to use a blog, you can provide RSS feeds which automatically notify subscribers when they change.

11. Speed matters
Fast loading times make all the difference. There are still a lot of people in NZ using dial up internet connections. While the connection speed is beyond your control, you can at least see to it that your site will load as quickly as possible. Consider things like graphics and multimedia content. Are there too many graphics? Are they too large? Do you really need to use video on your homepage?  Has your web designer done the best job to keep the page weight (size in Kb) to a minimum?
Is your hosting provider reliable? Do they have 10,000 other websites hosted on the same server your site is on? Do they support the right technologies for your website to grow?   These are all things we take seriously when building your site.

12. Doesn’t lure visitors away

You’ve worked hard to get visitors to your site. Don’t make the mistake of making it too easy to click out of your site. The best way to do this is to code your hyperlinks so that a new window opens when a visitor clicks on a link to an external site.

13. Promote your website

Make sure you pick an easy to remember domain name (website address, eg www.netpotential.co.nz) and advertise it.  Make sure your domain name isn't too difficult to spell.  You don’t have to buy advertising space to promote your website, but do promote it both on and offline as much as possible.  This can include adding your domain name to your email signature,  stationary, signage, and linking to it from wherever possible.

14. The whole company is involved
Your website shouldn't sit on a shelf and get forgotten about. Everyone in the organisation should be aware and play an active part in ensuring website content is up to date and relevant. Responses to enquiries from the website need to be fast. 

15. Results

You track who visits, where they come from and what they look at. Gathering information about use of your website helps you ensure you are getting the most of it and lets you know if advertising dollars are seeing a return on investment.  A good website will also gather information about what its visitors are looking at, encourage newsletter subscriptions, host competitions and surveys so that you learn what turns them on! 

16. Share

Make your data available to share with others. If you've spent time writing it, or putting all those products online, why not expose your website's content to as many eyes as possible?  You can protect your rights by choosing and displaying a license agreement and copyright information (there is a great “create your own license” tool available at Creative Commons) and it's simply pointless to try technical tricks to prevent people from downloading your images or copying your text.  The future is not in "owning" data, so share it with others. Expose relevant web content for people to "mash up," or reincorporate, into their Web sites.  Offer an RSS feed for site content  which you want the maximum exposure for.

15. Develops over time.

As with anything that is really good, you need to spend some time on a great website. It takes time for your website to feature highly in search engine results. Linking between other sites will increase your ranking so work on reciprocal links to other websites in your area of interest. If your budget doesn’t allow all the bells and whistles right now, then over time gradually add to your website to enhance it.

16.  Enjoy it!
So you've chosen a company to net the most potential for your website, and have worked hard with them to build a results driven business tool.  Now it's time to be proud of your achievement and let everyone know about it.  As long as you have received professional advice and have considered the above essential tips when building your next website, you're virtually gauranteed success.  At NetPotential we love to see results, and will do everything possible to help you achieve your online marketing goals.

Call us today for a free website review.