I often get asked to describe what makes a website “good.” While this term is commonly used, it is quite vague and lacks true meaning. When discussing what makes a certain thing – such as a website – good, perhaps we should substitute the word “effective.”
As many of my friends know, I’m a simple man and like to be lo-tech where possible. I think it’s good to take some of the tech-mystery out of web design. So here’s a simple question: What makes a knife effective? And now a simple answer, it cuts! Now, there are many other factors that go into what makes one knife better – or preferred – to another. Does it cut easily? Does it have a good handle so you don’t cut what’s not supposed to be cut? Is this the best type of knife for what I want to cut? These concepts can be applied directly to websites.
Your website’s grand purpose in life is to tell the story of your organization and encourage some sort of action from the its visitors. How well it does this truly determines how good, or rather, effective it is.
Effective websites are designed for a specific audience. It is vastly important to know who your website’s audience is or who you’d like it to be. This one piece of information will influence every piece of the site. A professional web design company will want to know this before engaging any other part of your web design process.
Effective websites have high quality visual design. Good design generally leads to pleasant aesthetics and a better user experience. Visual design basically takes a website – a huge piece of technology – and makes it something that humans want, and possibly even like to use. This is a mammoth subject and warrants a follow-up so check out “What the Heck Is Good Visual Design?”
Effective websites utilize excellent information architecture. This is the practice of determining for users what information is most important and then guiding them to other areas that contain supporting information or detail reading. This keeps your website from having huge blocks of text that end up making it feel like a book. It also helps to keep visitors engaged because it is LESS BORING and is more communicative than throwing all sorts of content up and hoping readers enjoy hundreds of lines of 10pt digital copy.
Effective websites have a conversion goal. Conversion is simply what you’d like someone to ultimately do after visiting your site. For some organizations this is a phone call, for others it is joining their Facebook page. Deciding this will help focus the design process of your website so that your conversion goal is reached as effectively as possible.
If you’d like to discuss these or other issues regarding your website, please feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to talk it through with you!
All the best!
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