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“Wow, Christie Brinkley is really ugly,” said no one ever. Wait, how is this relevant to good website design? Where is this going? Hopefully, no one is calling your website ugly. It should be attractive, like a supermodel…or George Clooney…or Johnny Depp (okay, okay, I’ll stop before I get carried away). Based on our site analytics data, we have more male readers than female.
To help get the thought of Johnny and George out of your mind, let me offer you this:
(Did it work?)
Think about it: Everyone is online these days, so your website is one of your best marketing resources. The bulky Yellow Pages books are things of the past. Everyone (except maybe your grandparents) uses the Internet to find a local plumber, gutter repair company, home remodeler, etc. And if your website isn’t well designed or SEO-friendly, all those potential customers will go right back to the search engines and keep looking! Well, you can prevent that from happening with good website design.
But what if you’re not web-savvy? What if you don’t know what makes a good website? Legit questions, no doubt, but with website design services from a company like Blue Corona, you don’t have to worry about it!
What Makes a Good Website?
Think of your website like you would think of a supermodel. What traits do supermodels have? Your site should be modeled after them (no pun intended)! Supermodels:
Are beautiful – your site should be attractive and not deter people.
Are graceful – your site should have a clean layout with clear calls-to-action (CTAs). It should also flow seamlessly from one page to the next and make sense to every visitor.
Look good in anything – your site should look good on a large or small screen, in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or any other browser, on a computer, mobile phone, tablet, etc. You get the idea. If you don’t want to invest in a whole mobile website design, at least include a large phone number in plain text and other mobile-friendly elements.
Get noticed from across the room – your site should make it easy to read and find information.
Age well – your site should work not just now but years down the road (make sure you “future proof” it!).
Are put together well and everything just works (hair, clothes, makeup, etc.) – your site should function correctly. There shouldn’t be any broken links, contact forms, missing title tags, etc.
Now, allow me to explain (in more detail) what makes a good website—one that is attractive, drives a lot of traffic, and converts well. An attractive website is great, but not if it can’t be found by search engines or can’t be crawled. Keeping the supermodel traits in mind, three aspects that should be considered in website creation are:
- Design – font placement and types, color schemes, logo, and more
- Content – images and alt-tags, embedded videos, calls-to-action, and more
- Navigation – conversion rate optimization (contact forms, etc.), sitemaps, internal links, number of pages, and more
Font: Your website should be easy to read, if nothing else. Even if you offer what people are looking for, they will not stay and look around if they can’t read the font—guaranteed. If your clients and prospective customers are mostly older, larger fonts may be good.
Also keep in mind font placement. Think about what industry you’re in, who your target audience is, etc. Should your site be more informational? Is there a sense of urgency when someone comes to your site (plumbing, HVAC, etc.) or are people just browsing? The top of the page should have important information—like a phone number that stands out—but shouldn’t be too cluttered.
Theme & Color: The overall theme and color(s) of your site reflect your business and, of course, have a large impact on your website design. These characteristics are also industry-driven. For example, a pink color scheme isn’t fitting for a website for a plumber or company that sells sports gear. Colors can evoke an emotional response, so think about your target audience when choosing colors and an overall theme!
Logo & Other Important Info: If your company has a logo, it should be at the top of the page, along with a phone number that STANDS OUT. If you have a contact form (which you should), it shouldn’t necessarily be at the top of the page near your logo and phone number, but in the sidebar. Don’t put it at the bottom of the page after all the content.
More and more websites these days are also social media-friendly. If you have Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts (which, again, you should), add those buttons to your site. Are pictures an integral part of your business? If so, add “Pin It” buttons to your gallery for Pinterest. The new social media driven SEO is here to stay, so a good website design should take advantage of this.
HTML vs. Flash: Although Google is now indexing Flash, HTML is a safer solution. Much of Flash still can’t be crawled by search engines, SEO elements (image alt-tags, anchor text, etc.) aren’t as easy to accomplish with Flash, and more.
Body Content: Since this is about web design and not writing, I’ll just say this—as always, keep your target audience, and the best SEO practices, in mind for the actual content on your website. There are some good strategies for creating relevant, engaging website content!
Calls-to-Action: Your website needs to have CTAs, period. The more specific, the better. Don’t just have “contact us” on every page. Offering a free trial? Include it in your CTA! Do you offer free consultations? That’s a great CTA. Try to be engaging and enticing, and linking to the Contact page is even better because it makes the user’s life easier.
Images & Alt-Tags: SEO has come a long way, and image optimization is now important too. An alt-tag can be thought of as a title tag for a picture. Got images on your site? Optimize them! Create keyword-rich (and geo-targeted if appropriate) alt-tags for every picture.
Infographics are also something to consider. They can make your website not only more attractive, but also more SEO-friendly. Infographics tend to get shared a lot, which is crucial in today’s SEO-and-social-media entwined world (read a great Distilled post about enticing infographics and linkbait).
Embedded Videos: As you may have noticed, SEO is now also more media-focused. Videos sometimes rank better than webpages! Having an embedded YouTube video (related to your business) can help your site rank better.
Site Structure: How is your website set up? Take a look at the image below:
If your site is like the left, with only one main page for all your services, it could use some major improvements. Creating a page for each service you offer (like the model on the right) is best for SEO and improves your chances of ranking well. Each new page is another opportunity to rank for a different keyword, which puts your site in the mix more times.
XML Sitemaps: Your website needs to have an XML sitemap, which essentially tells the search engines all the pages on your website (and when you add a new page, you should update the sitemap). An XML sitemap helps improve the crawling and indexing of a site, and helps newer content get crawled more quickly.
Internal Links: If you have no internal links on your website, that’s a problem. Internal linking throughout your site is not only good for SEO purposes (it can give more authority to certain pages, telling search engines, “This page is important”), but it also can help improve usability by leading the user to relevant information.
Conversion Rate Optimization: We have blogged about this a lot, but I’ll throw out a few quick tips. Have calls-to-action (make ‘em obvious) and contact forms (ideally on every page), and ask your users what they want (you could even offer incentives for feedback). If you want to focus more on this, be sure to check out previous blog posts we’ve written about improving website conversion rates.
Good Website Design: “Supermodel” Mentality
While the aesthetic is important when it comes to good website design (an ugly website does deter people!), there are other factors that influence what makes a good website. Bottom line—yes, your website should be attractive (like a supermodel), but also keep in mind the SUPERMODEL mentality:
- Optimal for conversion
Don’t bury all your great content behind a beautiful website that isn’t crawlable. The best content in the world is worthless if search engines like Google can’t find it.
On the other hand, if your website looks like it belongs in the 1990s, it’s time for an upgrade. An old, outdated website just doesn’t fit in with the ever-changing, fast paced world of content marketing—so keep up and create a site that you’re actually proud to have representing your name and brand!
About The Author: Alanna is the Quality Assurance Manager in Blue Corona's Maryland office. When she's not triple-checking websites and content for errors and consistency, you can find her at the gym with her twin sister or urban exploring with her husband.
View more blogs by Alanna Potosky