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What a good website should be

What a good website should be

A good website is several things:

Accurate
One of the most important things about website design is that both the content and the layout should be clear from the offset. Content should be similar to meta data or search data that the user put. Most users spend less than 15 seconds on a website, and even less if the page is not what they are looking for. A webpage which has a URL example.com/free-goodies/ and the page is all about how great the latest operating system features are is inaccurate.
Consistent
Page layout should not constantly change from page to page. Every page should implement the same or a similar design and this should be site wide. There is one exception from this with the front page. It is often possible to make a front page different from any secondary pages and still maintain site consistency.
Efficient
The website should avoid unnecessary downloads as well as unncessary visual elements. A webpage should load in a reasonable amount of time. A reasonable sized webpage in 2016 is around 1.6MB including all the HTML, CSS and JavaScript and excluding any images and other data. Google PageSpeed Insights gives a good idea as to what could be changed to make a page load faster.

A well as a page loading fast, it should avoid unneccesary, distractive elements. One major consideration is whether or not the website should include adverts and whether or not the website's adverts should be inline or popup. In one debate, 55 percent of users agreed that advertising on the web is a nuisance. Some users see these adverts as being beneficial.

Remember that adverts increase the amount of data downloaded to the user's device and therefore slow the page download but also increase the amount of data consumed by the device which is a major consideration with mobile users.
Usable
A site should be usable more than anything. Users should be able to navigate around the website without having issues with buttons not working or links going to dead links. Users should be presented with a layout they know or can learn quickly. The book by Steve Krug, one of the most influential web usability experts, has a title which is very useful as a quote; Don't make me think, which implies that users do not want to have to think.

A website which has a good usabilty is also legible. If the content cannot be read, the page is not usable.

Dos and do nots

A website should attempt to:

  • Adhere to standards
  • Be consistent
  • Be easy on the eye and visually appealing
  • Be easy to read
  • Be easy to use
  • Be efficient
  • Use keywords effectively (do not overuse them)

A website should also attempt not to:

  • Overcrowd the page with unncessary content or design elements
  • Overuse images, particularly where text could be used instead
  • Use too many fonts or colours (both are very important, but should be used appropriately)

A website should try to be as close to achieving these goals as possible. It's important to get users to test a website out and to test the website frequently. This ensures that end users, people who will use the website, can give feedback before the website is made public.