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2) To Offer The End User An Easy Ride - If the website is presenting the end user with an obstacle course instead of a simple map from point A to points B, C, D, E, etc., business is being lost.
4) To Present The Business In A Professional Way - Funky, clunky, ugly, outdated websites make a bad impression on potential customers and fail to convey that a business is trustworthy. Your website acts as your business' 24-hour, on-line representative. It needs to present your company's very best attributes in an appealing manner. This means an appealing design, excellent up-to-date website copy, easy-to-understand calls to action and a system of navigation that gets your users where they need to go with ease. Your website needs to demonstrate your company's value by treating your customers well.
For live examples of serious design problems that cause user frustration and website abandonment, please read our acclaimed article Seeing With Web Designer Eyes - 9 Evident Errors. This article was a finalist in the SEMMYs industry awards competition and it will help you to troubleshoot specific, common design mistakes your website may be making.
For a Before and After Test Case of a website redesign, this article reveals the efforts that go into turning a bad website into a good website!
What Makes A Good Website?
Simply put, a good website accomplishes a business' goals by meeting the needs of its users. Let's break this down into a simple list of factors every website owner needs to devote abundant attention to:
1) Technical Concerns - Clean code, correct HTAccess protocols, a sensible link architecture and adequate bandwidth are some of the technical specifics that go into making a website crawlable, usable and powerful.
2) Website Design - Good website design puts the focus on the contents of the pages (the text, the products, etc.) rather on fancy artistic elements. Anything that distracts the user's eye from the contents of the pages is a mistake. Amateur designs make a company look behind-the-times, and over-the-top, space-age designs work too hard to make a big impression and generally lose visitors in the process. Simple designs that serve to present important content while promoting the company brand are the best. Good website design appropriately reflects a company's industry and its users with intuitive use of color and images while offering users a hassle-free experience.
3) Search Engine Optimization - Good websites take search engine bots into account every step of the way. SEO should never be something tacked on at the end of the project. Keyword research needs to form the backbone of how a website is structured. It's what tells you what each of your pages should be focusing on to maximize profits by fulfilling users' needs. Every title tag, header tag, alt tag and meta description tag of a page needs to be individually crafted so that the bots understand what search queries your pages are appropriate for, and a lack of this effort makes a website not only bad, but truly pointless.
4) Website Copy - What your website is saying to its visitors determines how useful and professional they find your website. Spelling and grammatical errors are unacceptable, but this is only the beginning. Language is the main tool your website uses to connect emotionally with its visitors, to offer them solutions to their problems, and to call them to the action you desire. As Internet media replaces traditional print, your website's copy needs to be good enough to be printed in a magazine. It needs to be professional. It also needs to be written from an SEO mindset that is constantly taking into account the key phrases that are the focus of each individual page. SEO-based copywriting has become a legitimate skillset and it is one you will need to learn to make your website truly powerful.
5) Usability - How are users interacting with your pages? Are you making them think too hard in order to find what they need? How easy to use are the forms or tools on your website? For e-commerce companies, how easy is it to shop with you? Are there obstacles and elements causing users to abandon your website? Would a different color or a different placement of an element generate more sales, more leads, more user satisfaction? Usability is a crucial element of good website design and understanding the experience users have when they visit your website is what will enable you to continue improving it in order to maximize your profits.
I'm Not Going To Have Time To Learn All Of This Stuff!
We know that the majority of small business owners are absolutely capable of studying and implementing all the basics of a good website, but in our years of working with so many of them, we've learned that lack of time is a serious issue. Small business owner education has always been our #1 goal, but if your time is already filled to its daily limit with handling sales, designing products, meeting clients and promoting your company, you are unlikely to be able to add becoming a Web Designer, Copywriter, SEO onto your schedule! That's completely understandable, and it is the reason clients come to us.
We have developed the skills required to create good websites for great small businesses. We can do the market research, design the site, populate it with your important products and services and write the kind of compelling, SEO-based copy that makes the right connections with human users and search engine bots. We can do this from scratch, or redesign a website that is failing to thrive.
If you enjoy looking at test cases, before-and-after studies and live examples of bad websites being transformed into great ones, here are two other articles for your reading pleasure:
If You Know Your Website is Bad...
No need to apologize. Some of the Internet's best, most exciting websites began as a learning experience for the owner. Valiant attempts of shaking a good site out of old Microsoft Frontpage or some other website builder software are actually experiences that teach business owners the value of good website design. All of us started somewhere when the Internet dawned, and if you've come to the conclusion, some years into this, that your time will be better spent attending to the demands of your actual business rather than fiddling with website design, we'd like to hear from you. Tell us what's bad, let us tell you what's bad, and let's get working on developing a brilliantly good website that accomplishes your company's vital goals.