7 Qualities of a Great Website
How does your site measure up?
When I visit a new website for the first time, it takes me about two seconds to make a judgment call about the person or business it represents. What do they do, and is it for me? Is this a high end or low end product or service? Do I want to do business with them? Do I trust them with my money?
The quality of a website either earns my trust, or turns me away.
Since web design has been my primary occupation for the past 12 years, it stands to reason that good design is the first thing I notice (and judge). But think about how many of your customers also make assumptions about who you are when they go to your website, often times without being fully aware of it. Think about how much business your website might be losing you, and how much you stand to gain by giving it your attention.
Before investing in a full redesign, I often encourage clients to do a website audit by measuring their site against the seven qualities below. The key is to find alignment between who you are, what you do, and how you engage your audience. Give the following list a read with your own website in mind.
1. Purpose & Content
Does the website exist for a clear reason? And is that reason clearly expressed? If you’re in a service business, your content should address the needs of your target audience right from the start. Your web content should have an obvious focus, and provide genuine value to those who access it.
All too often, people make websites as vanity projects to promote themselves or their ideas without addressing the audience. Don’t make that mistake. Your website isn’t just about you, it’s about who you serve.
2. Branding & Design
Does the website have a consistent brand and style?
Design is a major category unto itself, including hierarchy, color, the use of a grid, white space, etc. But it all boils down to creating a visual tone that works for your company and the image you’re trying to project.
And since design can be pretty subjective, the important question to ask is: “Does the presentation appeal to my target audience? Is it on par with my peers, or is it wildly different? And if so, then why?”
Is the website organized in an intuitive and predictable way? Can users find the information they need easily? And are related pages tied together, so a user never finds themself in a dead end?
Creating a proper content flow is important to keep visitors on your site, and either capture leads or drive conversions.
Is the content displayed in a way that’s easy to consume?
You want to make sure your type is sized appropriately, with proper measure (line width) and leading (line height). Contrast is also vital for legibility. And you want to avoid large blocks of uninterrupted text by including subheads, bulleted lists, and additional styles for emphasis.
Does the imagery used on the website support the content and reinforce the visual tone? Are you using stock photos, illustrations, or did you hire a professional photographer? Do they tell a consistent brand story?
And don’t forget other graphics, like iconography and infographics. Are they up to date, and do they work well with the design of the site?
Does your website scale to fit the device you’re on? Don’t make people who visit your site on their phone have to zoom in to see your content.
Also, make sure the content organizes itself in a way that’s easy to consume at any resolution. For example, wide tables can change into organized lists on smaller screens.
And try not to hide content at different screen sizes if you can avoid it.
7. Call to Action
Just as every website should have a reason for being, so to should it have a call to action. Should users buy your product? Sign up for your newsletter? Donate to your cause? What’s the next step? Every website should have one, and every page on the site should either include it, or drive users toward it.
And whatever that action happens to be, it should have a measurable benefit, both to your business and to your customers.
So, how did you do? Are you on the right track, or are you in need of an overhaul? Assessing your own website can be tough, because we often ignore what we don’t want to see. But if your profits have plateaued, that may be a good sign that you need to consider revising your website as a key step in a new business strategy.
I often think of websites like cars. You don’t need a new one every year, but you definitely need to keep the one you have well maintained. So run a diagnostic. Then decide what you need to do.
I’m Daniel Beadle, a web design and branding consultant who works with entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses and improve their online products. Visit me at DanielBeadle.com