Creating a great web design is a balancing act between many varied and sometime contradictory elements. A website needs to please different groups of people and accomplish several functions at the same time. It combines left-brain, logical thinking and right-brain, artistic thinking. The average user or even owners of websites have little knowledge of what all goes into a truly great website, therefore I have compiled a list of the different things a website must accomplish to be considered great. Compare this list to your website to see where it might need improvement.
- Look good – This goes without saying and is the part you probably already knew. A good looking website portrays a positive image for the business it represents.
- Work on a wide variety of screens – Every web browser will render a page slightly different, so will different operating systems, there are also mobile phones, tablets and other odd platforms to think about.
- Be easy to navigate – The end user must find the site easy to get around in and not confusing or they will go to the competition.
- Achieve it’s goals – Whatever the site was intended to do, be that getting potential clients to call or producing online sales, the site needs to be designed to naturally engage visitors and funnel them towards that goal.
- Play nice with search engines – Almost any site will benefit by better search engine ranking. So another thing the website must do is make it easy for the search engine spiders to index the content of that site.
- Be easily maintainable – At some point every site will need updates, a well put together site will be created with updates in mind using includes, comments in the code and clean, easily readable HTML.
- Load quickly – Obviously, yet it is often not made a priority in web design. With the rise in mobile web browsing this element is more important than ever, yet still often neglected.
There are many other things a website needs to do, but these are the big ones. These are the items that separate the men from the boys in web design, the lowest bidder is most likely not going to nail these points. Likewise a person trained in traditional graphic design will not have all the skills necessary to create a great web design, it takes someone who understands the intricacy of website design, someone who understands things like:
- graphic design
- cross-browser and cross-platform website compatibility
- information architecture and web usability principles
- search engine optimization techniques
- W3C HTML and CSS standards
- server side scripting languages
- image optimization
A really great web design has to look good, work across all browsers and platforms, be easy to navigate, achieve it’s goals, be fully indexable by search engines, be easy to maintain and load quickly, among other things. Creating a website that can do all these things requires a wide variety of skills that you won’t find at every business offering web design services. So how does your website stack up?