What is a great web site?

Like in anything, before we can rate the quality of something, we need to have some criteria to judge it by. So, what makes a great website? A website can and should do several things:

1. It should make it very clear to the viewer what it is representing.

2. It should engage the viewer and make them want to read on, or contribute, or sign up or whatever the appropriate next step is. Unlike traditional marketing materials – print, ads, etc, websites are an intrinsically interactive media. What does that mean for a website? It means that you have the opportunity to use your website to build relationships with your viewers.

So what kind of relationship do you want? A one-time affair? Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Tell you their thoughts, buy your products? Submit content? Well, then you have to make it extremely obvious and pleasant to do that.

So look at some best practices:

1. Not too much text.

People can’t read or engage with text quickly. So your opening salvo has to be enough to be interesting, but not so much that it puts people off. If you have more to tell, well a “more” link is a good way to tell if your first pitch is working to get them engaged.

2. Always point to the next step.

Don’t make people guess where the next step is always put it right under their mouse. But don’t force it either. Make your navigation clear and present enough that they can find what they want to find, but make your next step the obvious choice. One way to do this is to show a logical sequence within the page itself – not just on the nav panel. Show your viewer where they are in the sequence, and what the next step is. If you’ve done it well, you’ll be rewarded with another click, or an email address, or whatever you’re hoping for.

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3 comments

  1. Good post. It is amazing how many web development companies don’t take the time to think through what their visitors are going to be looking for. The planning process for a website is just as important as a strong foundation for a house.

  2. Thanks. Sounds like we have similar thoughts on this subject. Would love to hear more of your ideas – I’ll be sharing more of mine too.

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