Characteristics of a Good Website: Qualities of Effective Web Design

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Characteristics of a Good Website - Man working on a computer
Photo via Envato Elements

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 and characteristics 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 answer to a question, a product to purchase, 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, good content must meet the needs of your visitors and provide them with whatever it is that they’re looking for.

Good content is the most important element of any effective 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 website 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? There should be much more to it than just a good web design.

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, and your purpose as a brand. 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 into 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 and provide a good user experience. 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 for some good examples.

5. Easy Navigation

Navigation has a huge impact on user experience throughout the web. Good 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.

6. Fast-Loading

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 good user experience. Slow-loading websites are likely to lead visitors to leave and go somewhere else.

There are many elements that factor into 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. If you want to have a good quality site, you need to invest some money into quality hosting.

7. Mobile-Ready

Qualities of a Good Website - Woman using a smartphone
Photo via Envato Elements

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 good 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, mobile usability is easy to master 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.

8. Unique

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.

9. Fresh Content

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 and add text or video content occasionally to have a great website.
  • Use a blog. With a blog, you can add good quality content to your website easily.
  • Use RSS feeds. With RSS feeds you can add news headlines, weather, stock tickers, etc. to your website.

Fresh content keeps visitors coming back for more, leaders to more shares on social media, and is good for SEO.

10. Optimized for Google Search (SEO)

While there are many different marketing methods and ways to drive traffic to your website, search engines (particularly Google) account for the majority of traffic to most websites. As a result, search engine optimization or SEO is critically important on the web.

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 ongoing traffic day after day, which drastically reduces the necessary marketing effort for the company.

A good website is search engine friendly. For specific and actionable SEO tips, please see What Makes a Website Search Engine Friendly?

11. Secure

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 good 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.

Final Thoughts on the Qualities of Good Web Design

When you’re creating a website, whether it’s for your own business or for a client, there’s a lot to consider. Hopefully, this article helps to point out some of the most important characteristics that should be addressed by any website in order to successfully meet the needs of visitors, Google, and other search engines. If you focus on these qualities of a good website, you’ll be sure to create an excellent website that is loved by Google and human users.