If you’re a designer, you may judge websites based on their appearance. While the design and appearance of a website matter, that’s only one of several factors that will play a role in determining the website’s success.
Here is a look at some of the most important factors to keep in mind:
1. Quality Content
Ultimately, visitors come to your website because of the content. In most cases, they’re looking for something specific. They could be looking for an asnswer to a question, looking for a product to purchase, looking for entertainment, or something else depending on the type of website.
The content of your websites could be in text, audio, or video format (or all of the above). The details of what qualifies as “quality” content will vary depending on the type of website and the specific content you provide, but in every case, it must meet the needs of your visitors and provide them with whatever it is that they’re looking for.
Content is the most important element of any website. If you want to have a quality site, you must focus on providing visitors with the best content that will meet their needs. Don’t allow design, search engine optimization, or any other aspects of the website to take priority over the content.
2. Clear Purpose
Why does the website exist?
Each site should have a specific purpose, and that purpose should be clear to visitors within the first few seconds of arriving at the website.
Your website’s purpose will work hand-in-hand with the specific action you want visitors to take. For example, if your website’s purpose is to sell a product, you want to lead visitors toward the action of adding the item to their shopping cart and completing the checkout.
Good websites make effective use of calls to action that lead visitors toward the intended action. This could be related to buying a product, filling out contact information for a lead generation website, scheduling an appointment, opting in to an email list, or some other specific action.
Without a clear purpose and without a strong call to action, the website is unlikely to get results.
3. Functional and User-Friendly
Effective websites are easy to use. A frustrating user experience makes it harder for visitors to find the content or answers that they’re looking for and will increase the chances that they’ll leave the site before taking the desired action.
4. Simple and Attractive Design
A website doesn’t have to be flashy in order to look good. In fact, simple and clean designs and layouts are often the most effective. A simple website can look professional while providing the appropriate content along with an excellent user experience.
If you’re looking for inspiration, see our collection of minimalist website designs.
5. Easy Navigation
Navigation will have a huge impact on the user experience. Effective navigation will make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for while poor navigation will frustrate users.
Most websites have a primary navigation menu with links to the major pages or hubs of the site. Larger sites may use dropdown navigation menus or even mega menus to make it faster and easier to get to any page on the website.
In order for the navigation to be effective, the content of the site must be structured logically, which can become a challenge with larger sites.
For some ideas and inspiration, see our showcase of beautiful navigation menus.
Visitors are impatient. We live in a fast-paced world and we expect instant answers and responses. Your website needs to load quickly in order to provide a positive user experience. Slow loading websites are likely to lead visitors to leave and go somewhere else.
There are many elements that factor in to the loading speed of your website, but it all starts with quality hosting. One of the main reasons we use and recommend WP Engine is because websites on their servers load quickly and keep visitors happy.
Mobile users account for a constantly-growing percentage of overall traffic. Many websites today receive more than half of their traffic from visitors who are using mobile devices. Your website absolutely must provide a quality experience to mobile visitors.
The most common approach is to use responsive design in order to provide a strong user experience on any device. Thankfully, this is easy to do with all of the quality templates that are available. You can use a good multipurpose WordPress theme or a responsive Shopify theme to get a mobile-ready website without any extra work or effort.
The most successful websites will stand out from the crowd. There are a number of ways you can make your website stand out: better design, high-quality articles, a blog, a newsletter, some type of resource or tool. Find something that would be appealing to your target market and make sure that your website gives them a compelling reason to visit.
Keeping your website up-to-date will encourage repeat visitors who will be more loyal and more likely to buy.
There are a few different options for keeping your site fresh:
- Update the site and add content occasionally
- Use a blog. With a blog, you can add content to your website easily.
- RSS feeds – With RSS feeds you can add news headlines, weather, stock tickers, etc. to your website.
10. Optimized for Search
While there are many different ways to drive traffic to your website, search engines (particularly Google) account for the majority of traffic to most websites.
Search traffic is valuable because visitors are looking for exactly what you have to offer. Additionally, if your site is ranking for the keywords and phrases that are most relevant to you, it will produce on-going traffic day after day.
A good website is search engine friendly. For specific and actionable tips, please see What Makes a Website Search Engine Friendly?
A good website is also secure, both for the owners of the website and also for visitors. Security is a major concern these days, even if you’re not accepting credit cards or processing orders on your site. Several years ago, ecommerce websites were typically the only sites that used SSL certificates, but now, that level of security is recommended for every website.
Thankfully, most web hosts make it easy to get an SSL certificate for your site. Bluehost includes a free SSL certificate for any website hosted on any of its plans. WP Engine also includes an SSL certificate.
When you’re creating a website, whether it’s for your own business or for a client, there is a lot to consider. Hopefully this article helps to point out some of the most important factors that should be addressed by any website in order to successfully meet the needs of visitors.