An effective website is a perfect storm. It combines engaging content with smooth user experience to deliver a pleasant and sometimes addictive experience. All of your favourite sites are a combination of technical skill, creativity and understanding of what people want.
If that all sounds a little vague, fear not! Because we have a list of some very specific elements that make an appealing website…
The internet isn’t quite infinite, but it’s close enough to make little difference. No matter the subject, from fly fishing to film to flans and everything in between, all the information you could possibly want or need is available online.
The danger here is that too many sites try to cram in too much information on each page: Many home pages are busy, cluttered and unattractive.
The most attractive websites know when enough is enough. And some modern ones go a step further, towards minimalism: They’re free of clutter and feature appealing new looks like flat design.
The ideal website is informative and substantial, without overloading the user with images and text.
User experience is a curious thing. Every single one of us has an opinion about user-experience, even if that’s not the phrase we use. For instance, if it’s an online shop (or eCommerce site), you want to be able to find the products you like, add them to a cart and pay for them. Just about every site demands a good search engine. And load times shouldn’t try your patience.
Effective user experience is a combination of numerous elements listed above (and more), combining to make a site easy and pleasant to navigate.
Again, the phrase “good” can be ephemeral or vague, but you know what good content is when you see it: Your website should serve a purpose in one way or another. Maybe it’s helping people find the nearest rock gig; maybe it’s recipes; or maybe it’s a Tumblr page of Michael Fassbender where he looks like a shark (that last one’s real, by the way).
Effective content is fresh, engaging or useful. The Dublin Bus app, for instance, is not an entertaining mobile website, but it’s a hugely useful one.
Even if your site is a hobby or entertainment portal, every page (in fact, every line of code) should serve a purpose, even if that purpose is light entertainment.
Breaking Up Text
So you’ve got your good idea for a site, there’s strong content there, and the images and buttons are in the right place.
Now what you need is to use that content well: Use headlines effectively, tease and tantalise with sub-headlines, and break up paragraphs so they’re not too long.
Regardless of whether it’s selling anything, your website is essentially a shopfront. With the right attention paid to code and aesthetics, it’s one that users will be delighted to browse through.