Whether you’re a website designer or not, you likely have some vague idea about what makes a good website and what makes a bad one.
You’ve likely come across some horrible ones and at one point or another had nightmares about your own business website being among the infamous “worse websites.”
A website is now a requirement, not a necessity for businesses.
Unfortunately, some business owners and web developers just threw a website out into Internet Land thinking they’ve fulfilled their advertising obligation and now they can sit back and wait for people to come to the site.
But, bad websites will never attract the right customers that the business wants. The only attention they will get is to be but on bloggers’ “top worst websites” posts.
The best websites are creative and interesting. They are unique, yet they are organized in a way to give website visitors easy navigation throughout the site.
In May, the Webby Awards highlighted the best websites in a variety of categories ranging from causes to education and best homepage to content.
The Webby Awards highlight the best sites on the web.
While these websites were the result of web designers and developers, they may give you ideas and inspirations for your website.
The full results can be viewed on the Webby Website. For the purpose of exemplifying basic web design principles, the winners for the best homepage, navigation and structure, best practices, use of graphics and animation, use of video, user experience, user interface, and visual design will be mentioned here.
Best Home Page-Milwaukee Ballet
Best Navigation and Structure-Google Play the World
Best Practices-Virgin America
Best Graphics and Animation-Through the Dark by R/GA Sydney
Best Video-Harmony Mastered From Chaos by Droga5
Best User Experience- Apple
Best User Interface-National Geographic-A Bear’s Eye View of Yellowstone
Best Visual Design-Born05 by IFLY KLM 50
Best Functional Visual Design-UBER
Hopefully these websites have gotten your creative juices going.
If you didn’t notice, these websites have certain elements in common.
Elements of Good Websites
The characteristics of good websites include these elements:
Unique and Large Typography
Many companies choose to use a customized, unique typography to help people identify their brands from their competitors. The typography captures the culture and desired personality of a brand. Brands want to be unique.
There are more and more type fonts designers can use now. So why settle for a default font on your website?
For example, many people recognize The New Yorker by its Adobe Caslon Pro font.
Large & Responsive Images
Content may be king, but don’t forget about graphics. Images are more interesting than big blocks of texts and they are more memorable to your website visitors. Information and words contained in an image are more digestible by website visitors as well.
On some of the above websites, their images are large, sometimes filling up the whole page. With images, you can get away with the limiting concept of having the most important information “above the fold.”
Most large images are used in the background. The combination of important text and interesting background images captures the attention of website viewers and shares valuable, useful information with them.
Background Videos and Product Videos
To bump up your website a notch, try playing a short video in the background in place of an image. Videos have become very popular in recent years and are an effect way to both capture people’s attention and provide them with relevant information. In fact, video is processed 60,000 times faster by our brains compared to text.
Videos are great ways to tell a story. If you want to get creative, insert an about us video or videos about satisfied customers on your website in place of text. A good example is Wistia‘s website. When you visit the site, a video automatically plays in the background. Clicking on the play button takes you to the full version of the video.
Your website can easily scare off would be customers with large blocks of text. With video, your website information can be consumed quickly and visitors feel more engaged.
Showing demonstration videos of your products in action will solidify trust with customers who will then be more likely to buy the product after seeing someone else like them use it. According to Inc. Magazine, 92% of B2B customers watch online video, and 43% of B2B customers watch online video when researching products and services for their business.
There is a note of caution when using videos on your website: No not use Adobe Flash Player! This is outdated technology that renders poor quality video and requires users to download a third-party player to view the video. This forces people to momentarily leave your site and it makes for additional, inconvenient steps your viewers must take.
Video length is also something to be aware of. Very long videos or videos made on Flash can slow the load time of your website. In a fast-paced world when everyone demands things instantly, people are not going to sit and wait for your website to take its time loading.
In the 1990s when websites were the playground for web developers who thought more was better, lame GIFs, stock photos, and rainbow fonts were in abundance across the web. Text throughout whole websites were made to look 3-dimensional.
All the clutter and 3-D font made for confusing, hard to read and navigate websites.
Great websites today have become more sophisticated by becoming more organized and simple. Their simplicity, including the use of flat and semi-flat design, has given them an elegant, professional look with content that is easy to read.
Apple was the first big company to usher in the semi-flat design trend in 2013. Since then, other major companies such as Uber have adopted this clean, refined style.
Easy to Access Hamburger Menus
When you visit a website for the first time, do you immediately look for the three horizontally aligned lined menu icon? You don’t know where anything is on the page, but the menu will quickly show you how the site is laid out.
Visitors to your website will be impatient. They won’t have time trying to find what they’re looking for on your site. If you have the easily recognizable ”hamburger” menu icon, your visitors will be able to better and more quickly navigate your site.
This will keep them on your site, increasing their chances of converting.
Giant Product Images
When you’re browsing the Internet for a specific purchase, you want to see the product before you spend a dime on it. Knowing what you’ll be getting and ensuring you’re getting what you paid for are natural instincts.
Online shopping is more difficult because you can’t see, test and touch the product in person first before you buy it.
This is why it’s important you have large, multi-view images of all your products. Buyers will know what they’re getting and be more likely to make a purchase.
A good example of this is the product page of the HubSpot Website Platform.
With image dominated social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, consumers, marketers and website designers have fallen in love with the card website layout. The card layout design is a collection of individual cards that distribute bite-size bits of information in a visual way.
An example of the card design website in action is the Brit + Co’s homepage.
More and more people are taking the Internet with them on the go in the form of smart phones and tablets.
A good website will be mobile responsive, meaning that the layout and images of a webpage will automatically adjust to correctly render the webpage on a smaller screen size.
Mobile responsive sites maintain their clean design, easy navigation and readability.
A stunning, engaging websites take time and expertise to pull them off. You may not be able to accomplish this level of web design yet, but hopefully get inspired.
The only way to stand out online is to create a unique, interesting website.
Before your new website goes live, make sure that it has a unique, memorable domain name.
Domain Market has a large inventory of premium, high level domains that can be applicable to a variety of industries.
For more information or to reserve your domain name, contact us today.