I work in a field that has a very BROAD interpretation of ‘good’ depending on who you ask. I don’t think any website developer or creator would admit their work sucks… but sometimes it does. So how do you, someone who is NOT in the website industry, know good from crap?
This is of course an opinion piece, so take it for what it is, but here are my criteria for what makes a website ‘good.’ It must be:
- Easy to Read
- Filled with Quality Content
- Aesthetically Pleasing
- Appropriate for Your Audience
A responsive website is one that automatically changes the size and positioning of its content to be appropriate for each screen size. Meaning, it looks perfect on a phone, a tablet, a desktop, or even that weird e-reader you have from 2008. Having a responsive website is no longer an option in my opinion. The only time seeing a non-responsive website doesn’t send me into a fit of rage is if it’s for a tool that is really only useful on a desktop or larger computer. So, if you are considering in investing in a new website or an upgraded website, make sure you’re getting a responsive one.
(Neater than your sock drawer)
Having a website where your visitors can’t find what they came for kind of defeats the purpose… Whatever it is you want your visitors to do, lead them to it. Make it easy for them to find what they want, and make it clear what YOU want from them. Organization and ease of navigation is one of my main criteria to be a ‘good’ website.
EASY TO READ
(No tiny text!)
This seems simple, but I’ll go ahead and say it: Make sure the actual text on your website can be read easily. I could go into a rant about accessibility for visually disabled and color blind but this is more simple than that — just make sure YOU can read your own website… every piece of it. That means using a font size larger than 12 in most cases, making sure if you have white text it’s appearing on top of a very dark background so the words don’t get lost, or that you add a dark enough shadow around the letters that they can be read. There are lots of ways to do this so I won’t waste your time on the hows. If the words on your website can be easily read, you’re on the way to ‘goodness.’ 🙂
(What lies within)
People visit your website for your content, not your design. That blew my mind the first time I heard it… especially because it means what I do (build websites) is less important than what someone else does (write content). But, nevertheless, I must be the adult and acknowledge its truth.
Your website is only as good as its content.
As important as I think it is to have a website that looks good, you’ll find that’s second to last on the list because your CONTENT (text, images, video, audio, etc) is what your visitors come for.
The aesthetics, functionality, organization, ease of use, and bells and whistles may engage them or keep them on your website longer, but they CAME for your content, so the first step towards having a good website is having good content.
Some general advice is to have a combination of well written broad overview and detailed text throughout your website in appropriate places, with descriptive and beautiful imagery to help communicate your message.
(But am I pretty?)
I haven’t mentioned anything about appearance yet because it is subjective. You see, I very much prefer a website that is based in WHITE, with lots of space between elements. However, I won’t presume to say that’s a criterion of being ‘good.’ Feel free to use your own preferences to contribute to this part of design, but don’t let them lead it. Depend on a professional designer, and research about what your visitors (target audience) prefer. It might be a 3 column layout with a black background and white text — who knows.
(Ever heard of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans? Just like that.)
All of your website decisions should really be driven by your target audience’s needs. If you put yourself in their shoes, or better yet TALK TO THEM, you’ll find many of your decisions are easier to make. If your target audience is older men used to reading the newspaper, you might choose a layout reminiscent of a newspaper, while keeping font size larger than normal and remove anything unnecessary like animations from buttons, etc.
In the overwhelming and ever-changing world that is website design and development, keeping these general principles in mind will keep you on a path towards quality.