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The site should be easy to read and navigate, should be aimed at getting your customers to what they want as quickly and easily as possible, design should be consistent throughout the site, and any bells and whistles should only be there if they have a purpose.

What makes a good website?

We know that it's often difficult for small businesses, looking for a web design company, to really know what the features of a good website are. What is the difference between this site and that site? Isn't it just a bunch of words and pictures thrown together?

There's a lot more to it than that, but it doesn't have to be difficult to spot the difference. We've listed below some of the simple things that set aside a really good business website. If you've currently got a website, and you want to know if it's really doing the job, contact us to request a usability report on how well your site meets the grade.

Spotting the difference

Colours should express the look you are trying to achieve, and be easy on the eye. Hot pink and lime green may be great for a trendy youth oriented site, but not so great for the website of a very serious and professional group of accountants.Bear in mind that black text on a white background is the easiest to read.

Avoid dark backgrounds all together unless you're going for a specific look. Very few business websites can carry off a black background well. Similarly, avoid busy patterned backgrounds. Anything that makes it difficult to read your text will turn off visitors.

The company logo should be dislayed on every page, and clicking on it should take the visitor back to the main index page.

Is it easy to use?
There are many things which will make your site more user friendly. This is just a brief overview.
The first point to note is that when people read text on a monitor, it is different from the way they read, say, a magazine, or a book. The eye scans the page, looking for keywords and items of interest.

  • Try to keep no more than 8-12 words to a line for easy readability.
  • Use short paragraphs, subheadings, bullet points and highlight keywords, to enable easy scanning of long text.
  • Most text should be left aligned for a clean page layout.
  • Keep font sizes at 2 or above, don't ruin your reader's eyes!

Also important is how people navigate, or move around, your site. A well designed website has consistent ways to move around the site. If the main page has links down the left hand side to go to other sections, then these links should be in the same place over every page. The visitor shouldn't have to think to figure out how to get around, it should be instinctive.

A good website allows the visitor to find what they're looking for, in no more than 3 clicks. This means from the front page, they have to go no further than 3 pages to find the information, product, or details they are looking for.

I can hear you thinking "But it's a business website. It doesn't need to be user friendly!"
Imagine if, in your shop, customers who wanted to vist you to find out how much your Newsuperwidget is, tried to open your front door, only to find it had an automatic timer, and they had to wait 60 seconds before it would open. Then, once inside, there were no sales assistants to be found. There was a Newsuperwidget there, but it was in a box, in the corner. The price was also there, but they had to open a further 2 boxes to find the price. Also imagine your customers leaving and going straight to your competition.

You wouldn't allow this to happen in your shop, so why would you let it happen to your website visitors?

Get What You Want
What response do you want from your website visitors? Make sure that every page within your site points your visitor to the response you want. If you want your visitors to make contact with you, make sure every page has an email link. Make sure every page includes a clear link to your phone number and other details.

Who is it for?
A well planned website also knows who its audience is. Quirk begins the planning for business websites by figuring out with the client who the audience for the site will be, and what they want from the website.

Hold the Bells and Whistles please!
When designing a good website, it's important to think about the visitor, and their experience on your page. If part of your audience are going to be using older computers, or on modem connections rather than high-speed connections, then why would you force them to wade through the latest flash gizmos before they can get to the information they came for?

While we're on the subject of flash, I hope the flash intro page fad dies soon. They say around 90% of visitors, when faced with a Flash intro page, will click on the "skip intro" button. So why bother putting another step between them and the information they're looking for?

Great websites are fast to load too. Images should be optimised for download speed, and HTML code should be clean.

To summarise, the page should be easy to read and navigate, should be aimed at getting your customers to what they want as quickly and easily as possible, design should be consistent throughout the site, and any bells and whistles should only be there if they have a purpose. This information should begin to give you some criteria to begin looking at business websites more critically, and allow you to make a more informed decision on a web design company for your business.

Contact us for a usability report on your website, starting from $250.