6 Traits of an Effective Website

In order to list these traits within this short article, we will qualify it a bit. You see, a complete evaluation of an effective website should take into consideration search engine optimization techniques and metrics. For our purposes, I’ll stick with evaluating web sites from the visitor’s perspective, once they’ve landed at your site. I’ll leave SEO/SEM and metrics for another day. This list relays the traits of sites that will achieve objectives. The overall assumption is that you have determined your site’s objective.

  1. Download Time / Speed
    If your site is slow to load, visitors will leave. It is a very simple fact that has not changed since the beginning of the ‘net. The typical culprit is imagery. Some designers and clients feel imagery is very important to their branding. You need to evaluate the quantity of images on your site and if you can accept the trade off of visitors leaving vs having them there surfing. While there can be many other causes for slow load times, you want to find what the cause is and speed up your site. If users are required to wait more than a few seconds, they will leave.
  2. Scannability & Value
    A visitor must have immediate understanding of what your site is about. In a glance can your visitors, potential customers, understand what value you are offering? This is seemingly obvious, but you would be surprised how many sites have home pages that lack a clear message relaying benefits to their customers. They speak of features, while customers want to hear WIIFM – What’s in it for Me! In addition, layout is important for quick viewing. Using bullet points and bold text, you allow visitors to quickly pick out important concepts.Scannability of key point is very important online.
  3. Navigation
    Can you get to and from sections and pages of the site easily? Is your navigation clear and consistent throughout the whole site? One very bothersome feature of poorly designed sites is when you get to a page and there is no navigation taking you back, or anywhere for that matter. In effect, you’ve come to a dead-end in the site. Sometimes there is the home button, but it really is an annoyance to have to go back to the home page to move ahead. In addition to this, is the navigation set up in a way that it is very clear to visitors where they are in your site? You can use a variety of techniques to ensure that they do not become “lost”.
  4. Look/Design
    Does the site reinforce branding? Does the site look like others? Or is the look unique? A quality design lends credibility to a site. A good solid site designed by professional web designers who know how to blend form and function will pay back multiple times.
  5. Content
    Content is King as the old saying goes. Recently I redesigned a site for a new client. One of the first things I do when evaluating a site is look at the stats. In this case, while his 6 year old site was in desperate need of a redesign, he was getting pretty good traffic. But the stats showed they were landing on the site and not staying around. After reading the landing page, they left pretty quickly. The reason they found his site was the content, as the search engines picked it up. He is an expert in his field and he has good valid information. Visitors would quickly read his article and then leave, ignoring his services. Our job was to pull it all together and have the traffic convert to sales. The site just launched in the last month. Our hope is that with his excellent content and the new design that follows all best practices, he will see a good increase in sales. He’s already gotten some early positive feedback from visitors.
  6. Credibility
    Building in credibility is a key factor. The above 5 items down will certainly contribute to credibility. There are a few other items that will factor in. Having testimonials on your site is one good way to show that others have used your services or products and have been pleased. Others are making sure that there are no typos and your grammar is correct.

If you have anything to add to this list, please let me know. I’d be happy to hear from you.