What Makes A Good Website?
The difference between a good and bad small business website is in the quality of the user experience (UX). Good sites have fresh, relevant, and informative content that is easy to find. They present information clearly using a combination of text, graphics, and multimedia. They offer easy navigation. Good websites are an excellent user experience.
Recently shifts in Internet access preferences have added the requirement that sites are responsive. Good responsive sites adjust to the device the visitor is using, making for a good UX whether the site visitor is on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Read more: General design considerations for a small business website
General design considerations for a small business website
While some design considerations aren’t relevant in the digital world, and others are completely new, some age-old design rules haven’t changed. You want information organized in a clear, easy to scan way. You want relevant visuals of high quality.
For most websites, text will convey the bulk of the information. You have to get it right and some simple rules will help.
- Don’t confuse the reader with myriad typefaces, typefaces that don’t work well together, or a bewildering array of font sizes. Keep it simple.
- Use bold and italic text sparingly. They are very useful for emphasis, unless they are overused.
- Use bullets and numbered lists to present lists and make information easier to scan.
- Use things like toggles and “read more” links to break up large text blocks into manageable pieces that are related.
Proofread your content. When you think it is right, have someone else read it. Then read it again. Remember, relying on tools like spelling checkers will leave you high and dry at just the wrong time.
Use only relevant graphics that are of suitable quality, nothing is worse or more distracting than a fuzzy, poor quality image. Images help tell your story.
Your web designer will tell you what minimum resolution is needed for good presentation on your site. It is not worth using a graphic that does not meet resolution requirements.
Internet users love media like videos, podcasts, animations of important concepts, and so on. Search engines love them too. Many affordable tools are now available that make development of good multimedia easier than ever.
Make sure your multimedia is the right resolution for your site and that it does not impair site performance when running.
Read more: Good written content
Good writing is still good writing on the web, as long as it is presented correctly. Well-written, relevant, engaging writing makes for great content. You just need to fashion it for the way Internet users consume information.
Three types of Internet consumers
People absorb information in different ways, and that’s never been more apparent in how they gather information from the Internet. The three types of visitors we like to call: the browser, the grazer, and Missouri Man.
- the browser—looking for just enough information to be sure this is the site they want; they make a quick go/no go decision
- the grazer—needs more information than the browser, probably looking to make a comparison with other information they’ve already found
- the Missouri Man—wants every possible detail, will go in depth, visit multiple pages, you have to show him
Serving the browser and the grazer
Having a crisp and concise way of presenting your company, your value proposition, and your call to action is critical to getting these two types of visitors to convert. Use bullets, numbered lists, anything that will summarize information and put it into visually separable chunks.
Drone on, and they will hit the back button and they are lost.
Serving the Missouri Man
You can’t provide too much information to this site visitor. But you can be wrong, you could be unclear, or appear to make claims that are unsubstantiated…any of the three will cause a complete loss of confidence in your site.
To balance the needs of this visitor with the other two, be sure to break up long blocks of text with toggles, graphics, or similar methods.
Read more: Effective graphics and media
Effective graphics and media
Make sure graphics and media content are correctly sized. Although this would seem to be an obvious thing, it is amazing how often sites get this wrong: you find yourself looking at a massive graphic that dwarfs the accompanying text, or you wish that a tiny image attached to the article was larger, so you could actually see what it was without zooming in.
There is another consideration on size. Larger images take longer to load, as do longer media clips. You will want to carefully balance your desire for more complex messaging through media with whether the longer clips affect site performance—and the user’s experience.
Wherever possible, add meta tags to all pictures and media clips. This helps search engines determine what the information relates to.
Consider putting in ALT tags so that the disabled have a good UX on your site too!
Read more: Is your small business website responsive?
Is your small business website responsive?
With the shift in Internet access to mobile devices, responsive websites have become the latest hot topic. In fact, starting in April 2015, Google started penalizing non-responsive sites with poorer search rankings.
With the number of different devices consumers now use to access the Internet, there is a lot that has to be done “behind the scenes” to make a responsive site.
Most of the details are beyond the scope of this article, but generally responsive sites have to reorganize presentation of graphics and text because of different screen sizes and resolutions between smartphones, tablets, and computers.
With so many consumers using mobile devices now, your site has to be responsive.