The question of what makes a good website is often asked, yet seldom answered satisfactorily. To some degree, the answer varies according to each site’s nature and purpose – ecommerce, promotional, informational, etc. Nevertheless, there are a number of key questions to which you should always be able to answer ‘yes’. Then you really know that you have built yourself a good website that is great!
- How does your site compare to your rivals? Before launching or refreshing a website, undertake some competitor analysis. Rivals may have already considered what makes a good website and offer pointers you can follow; equally, the failings in their sites could be instructive in determining how your site takes shape. If all your rivals have downloadable product PDFs and Google Maps-powered directions, your site should probably include these functionalities as well.
- Is the site accessible on any device? We live in an age of unprecedented connectivity, where people may be viewing your website on a TV, a tablet, a mobile or a MacBook. Construct your site on a flexible platform that will resize pages according to the screen resolution of each display device, converting header bars into dropdown hamburger menus if necessary. The days of separate desktop and mobile sites are over, and desktop/laptop computers now carry less than half the world’s web traffic.
- Is the content regularly updated? This is vital for search engine optimisation – the process that determines where your website appears in results pages. Google and Bing prioritise sites with blogs or news pages that change regularly, so never launch a website and assume your SEO work is done. New posts provide extra scope to incorporate key search terms, and they can focus in detail on specific products or services – a key factor in determining what makes a good website.
- Are your key messages front and centre? Back in the days when people had decent attention spans, many websites had landing pages. Nowadays, you have a matter of seconds to get key messages across before visitors start heading off to watch YouTube beauty vlogs. Place core propositions on the homepage, encouraging people to read on but ensuring they leave with the basics of your business in their minds at least.
- Is the site visually arresting? Discussions about what makes a good website often focus on content, overlooking the importance of aesthetics. If your site sells clothing, upload 360-degree views of specific items or photograph them from multiple angles. If your industry has any visual angle to it, source or take dramatic photographs that will capture people’s attention. Use bold colours sparingly against neutral backgrounds, but avoid unusual fonts that might cause display issues in less sophisticated web browsers.