It’s a very broad question, but ultimately we can identify a few key factors that make all the difference when it comes to determining what makes a good website.
What is the purpose of your site?
It’s important to identify the purpose of your site and the goal you are looking to accomplish with every visitor.
If you are a dental practise and you want people to call to book an appointment, build your site around that goal.
It’s amazing how many websites are built to look pretty or push users to do things that aren’t good for you or the user. For instance, if you push users to fill out a contact form instead of calling. It seems obvious, but I see these mistakes all the time.
Ensure your website is built around accomplishing a goal. Every business is different and likely your goal will be as well, but it could include…
- Making a purchase
- Booking an appointment
- Requesting a call back
- Signing up to a service or trial
Does your call to action align with your goal?
If we continue to use the example of a dentist looking to book appointments, does your call to action (CTA) align with this?
Your CTA should be ‘book an appointment’ or similar and it should be repeated and certainly should be visible right away when a user lands on the site. Countless times I come across hero sections which don’t have any CTAs at all.
Is your CTA clear enough?
On the subject of CTAs it’s important to make your CTA as clear as possible what will happen when a user clicks it.
One mistake I often see is putting a phone number in a button. This works great on mobile, but on Desktop it’s confusing what will happen if they click it.
CTAs such as ‘contact us’ are fine, although not the most inspirational. Audible is a great example of a CTA. They could just have ‘Sign Up’ but it’s nowhere near as clear nor does it promote action like offering a 30 day trial does.
Does your site build trust?
75% of users admit to judging the credibility of a company on the design and UX of its website.
Review sites such as Trustpilot are very good at the final stages of a transaction, but users usually go to them as a last double check before parting with money and/or sensitive information.
So it’s vitally important to build trust right away. It takes a fraction of a second for a user to form an all important first impression so best make sure it’s a good one.
You don’t need a groundbreaking or award winning website to accomplish this. Just a very clean, respectable looking website that doesn’t make the user think too hard will do the job. Here’s a real world example that happened to me just the other day…
The site on the right was top of the organic results, but my first impression wasn’t a good one.
Even to the untrained eye you can tell this is a very outdated website and in a fraction of second I’d made up my mind that I wasn’t going to be purchasing from them and bounced back to the results page to continue my search (don’t worry I did find some paint can clips in the end).
I’m sure you’d agree there’s nothing particularly amazing about the good site, it’s certainly not going to win any awards. But it’s clean, modern and responsive with the added bonus that they have a yellow strip showing reviews thus boosting confidence.
Is your site fast enough?
Amazon calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year.
Load time is a vitally important metric when it comes to converting a user, but don’t get too caught up in trying to get A grade 99/100 scores. Ultimately, as long as your site receives reasonable scores when tested and real world experience is fantastic then you are fine.
Is your site responsive?
57% of users won’t recommend a business if they have a poor mobile experience
Honestly this is quite easy nowadays and there’s no excuse for having a website that isn’t responsive. Gone are the days where you needed completely separate websites in order to serve mobile users.
You’ll often hear design agencies use the phrase ‘mobile first’ design but in my opinion this is just a meaningless buzzword. The site has to be designed for all anyway so I just don’t see why it makes a difference as to where you start.
One aspect that is often overlooked however is the size of mobile elements, in particular buttons. When using your relatively chubby thumb to click a button instead of the pin point accuracy of a mouse, it’s important to make this as easy as possible.
A source of constant frustration for me is the bottom menu on mobile. The reason it’s so annoying is that it is correct. It’s far easier to reach with the size of mobile devices nowadays.
The problem is that when you click at the bottom of the screen on Safari (let’s be honest we’re mostly using iPhones). It brings up its own navigation rather than action the thing you clicked on. I’m sure you’ve experienced this and know just how annoying it is to have to press twice.
Is your site to forceful?
There’s advantages to taking options away from users. Too much can confuse users and force them into inaction. But too little can be so frustrating you abandon the site completely.
I’m sure you will have experienced it at some point. The most common is during checkout where sites will hide menu navigation and remove other clickable elements.
You realise that shipping prices are enormous or perhaps free if you spend a little more so you try to back out of the checkout process. Only to find you can’t because all clickable options have been taken away from you.
Landing pages are often guilty of this kind of practice and I admit it’s a fine line to walk. But I’ve too often come across a landing page with no menu even in the footer. This stops me from taking around the rest of the site.
Personally I find myself asking ‘what have they got to hide’ whenever this happens to me and often I lose trust and therefore interest in what they’re offering.
Please comment below if there’s anything I’ve missed. I’m going to be updating this post to include more and more information.