Basics of Good Web Design – Creating Practical Websites
Ah yes – If i had a nickel…I’ll take mysteries of the universe for $2,000 Alex! So what makes a website a good website? Conversely, what makes a website bad? What’s the difference if my nephew Stewy builds my website or a professional agency? The answer is simple: there isn’t just one answer. Since design is mostly subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we can’t solely rely on visual appeal as our standard. So what then? Well written copy? Clear navigation? A Fun Loving Mascot?
How can i know I’m getting a good website when i pay someone for it?
Don’t worry. There are a few constants in the vast expanse of variables that produce a good site time after time. If you, your company or organization needs a website and want to get an idea of what you’re getting into, or if you are among the millions who just want to know, here are a few essentials to getting a good solid website:
This could be the single most important factor that will help a website succeed or fail. A clear and defined purpose will help the other pieces fall into place. Why do you have a website? Who are you trying to reach? What are your objectives and how do you measure success? Purpose will allow you to make clear and concise decisions about everything from your color palette to technology and even features. Define clear objectives, plot your course, and move on to number two.
2. Clean Purposeful Design
I could have just said design here, but that doesn’t cover it. Ask any designer worth their salt and they will tell you that there is “design” and then there is “good design”; and the difference between the two is like east from west. Websites can be, and often are “over-designed” by amateurs who ignore design principles, throw every Photoshop trick in the book at a design and call it a website. Professional designers know what effective design is; and are experienced and disciplined enough to know when to stop designing. When talking about things like color choice, layout, imagery, and relevant metaphors, you really have to make a conscious effort to design with a specific idea in mind. In short, know your target (objective) and purposefully design towards it. And for Pete’s sake use white space! Moving on!
3. Clear Message
Every pixel of your website should have a purpose and a certain efficiency. Each one complimenting the others, together making up the content and imagery that shape your message and create a consistent brand image. Don’t try to fill up every last bit of space just because it looks “empty” (again – white space is important). Identify your target audience and what it is you want them to do. Make it easy on your users. Guide them where you want them to go, and help them find what they want to find with very little effort. Once you get them there, you have to provide them with the right information and a meaningful, compelling call to action.
4. Simple, Usable Architecture
How well are your pages and content organized? Is it intuitive? Will your target audience find what they are looking for? Can they use the navigation and is it understandable? If not, you’ll frustrate your users and they will bounce.
5. Reliable, Standards Compliant Framework
A good website must start with a good foundation. Starting from the ground up, quality, reliability and compliance with web standards means that your website will look the same and work the same in more browsers across platforms. What that means for you is a more consistent and powerful brand image to all of your website users.
6. Search Engine Marketing/ Search Engine Optimization
Hook Search Engines up with your website. Look at it this way: Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN are your best friend, and you know this smokin’ hot website (yours) that would be perfect for them. A match made in Heaven (well, maybe utah). Making search engines like you is just a game – kinda like the game of love. Get it wrong and you’ll find yourself dumped. Do it right and you’ll be rewarded with lots of attention and free, targeted traffic . It’s not difficult, but like anything else it just takes experience, know how and planning.
7. Technical Excellence
Getting a clever, relevant and memorable domain name is huge. Having fast, efficient, managed hosting with enough bandwidth and reliability to handle all the traffic you’ll get from your great new website’s marketing, and knowing which technologies fit within your website’s objectives and goals are all marks of a good website. After you have all that, find a professional webslinger who knows how to spin a site like no ones business and you’ll have a GREAT website.