First thing you need to do is decide what you want the site to deliver. Once you have that, you can build the site around the objective. A website has really only two possible purposes: first, it may be commercial, second, it may be a hobby. If you decide that the latter is your sites purpose, save yourself some time, and stop reading now.
However, should it be a commercial objective, the following will have some value for you.
- A headline with a hook. You may get a couple of seconds at best or catch a visitors attention, you must do it with the headline. There are plenty of posts around that tell you how to write a killer headline, but however you do it, you need to be able to hook and engage a casual reader. A great headline focuses on a problem that the reader needs solved. It can be a list, question, or many other forms, but is must be about them, not you.
- Visual and text alignment. The image on the page must reflect what the page, and site are about. Humans are visual animals, we impute a lot of information from visual cues, make sure they are all aligned.
- Logical progression. Being visual we run from headline to sub head, to sub-sub head, and expect there to be a logical progression if information. In the event we do not find it, our minds meander off somewhere, and a visitor will “bounce”.
- Uncluttered clarity. Unclear, disorganised content is death to a casual visitor. They want to find what they are looking for with a minimum of fuss, trouble, and clicks. Make it hard to navigate and they are gone before you know it, probably never to return. In many ways this is similar to the point above, but clarity is more than a logical progression of headlines, it is also the layout, and visitor centric journey through the levels of information.
- Visitor centric page names and headers. A site should be all about the reader, not the site owner. “About us” is perhaps the most common, as well as the worst page name on the web. A visitor does not care about you, they care about them, and what you can do for them. For heavens sake call them “how we can help” or “problems we solve” or something, anything other than “About us”. (perhaps you can hear a hobby horse)
- Relevance and clarity. Irrelevant material must be banned. Just having a video for the sale of having a video, because somebody told you humans were visual animals, or because the bloke down the road has one is stupid.
- Clear, easy to use, call to action. Does not matter what it is, click here for info, download the research, even like us, it has to be clear what you want a visitor to do.
- Mobile editing. More than just “mobile friendly” you site needs to be “mobile edited”, Mobile sites play a different role to desktops. Mobile fills a more short term role satisfying an immediate information need, rather than being a tool for research. Therefore much of the information and links that are usually on a website are superfluous to a mobile, just serving to slow down delivery and extend the “finger-flicking” necessary to get the answer.
None of this is easy, a website that delivers commercial value rarely happens by accident, particularly now when there are over a billion sites plus the social media platforms vying for the limited attention of your audience.
There are many opportunities to vote for the worst website of all time, this is mine as it combines unsurpassed zealotry with a psychedelic “sicko” design that is a stomach churner.