Let me tell you, I have seen a LOT of really lame websites in my time. Now, before you say “Hey Christine, you’re using a WordPress template… who are you to talk?” … I will ask that you read this.
Okay… now let’s continue.
I am actually going to declare my website/blog to be one of the better ones on the web anyway. Once you are done reading this and actually UNDERSTAND what makes a website good or great, I believe you will agree.
The ONE thing I want you to keep in mind is this: You do not need to hire a web designer to build a great website. Perhaps 10 years ago you did. Today… no. Now, I am not saying that there is never a need to hire a web designer or developer … of course there is. What I am saying is that you can build a great website or blog yourself if you just pay attention to these 3 things: Design, Functionality, Content
Let’s go over each one:
Obviously, first impressions matter. You want to make a good one. But how? Don’t you need a degree in graphic arts to design a website? Well… perhaps, but you definitely don’t need one to choose a WordPress template. I will say that if you have zero experience designing websites, you probably do not want to try to customize your template. Just pick a template and leave the design alone.
When it comes right down to it, the most important choice you need to make about the “design” of your site is the layout as this will determine how your content is displayed. Your content should drive the design, not the other way around. (Of course, there are other considerations that you need to take when choosing a theme, such as whether or not it is responsive, whether it has good reviews, etc. But that is a discussion for another day.)
[clickToTweet tweet=”The content should drive the design, not the other way around. #webdesign” quote=”The content should drive the design, not the other way around. #webdesign” theme=”style4″]
Back to the first impression. The first question to ask yourself is “What kind of first impression am I trying to make?” Once you have answered that question, everything from the color scheme, to the typography, to the white space used, to your branding, etc. should be selected in order to make that impression. Keep in mind that your content will affect the design, such as your selection and the quality of your photography, and whether or not you format your content so that it is easy to read on the web. You could go pick out the most beautiful house with a perfect layout, but if you dump garbage all over the living room floor… well, you get the picture.
[clickToTweet tweet=”If your #design does not make a good first impression, you PROBABLY DO NOT HAVE a great website. ” quote=”If your #design does not make a good first impression, you PROBABLY DO NOT HAVE a great website. ” theme=”style4″]
Bottom Line: If your design does not make a good first impression, you PROBABLY DO NOT HAVE a great website. I say “probably not” because if you have really really really great content, people will overlook the design. Of course, if your website is hideous, most people will probably not stick around long enough to read your great content. 😀
This is very simple; EVERYTHING needs to work. Your website must load quickly. It should be compatible across various platforms and browsers. It should be easy to navigate. All of the links must work. All of your forms must work. Your search function must work. Your website needs to be tested on a regular basis and it just simply must work.
[clickToTweet tweet=”If your website doesn’t function correctly, you PROBABLY DO NOT HAVE a great website. #webdesign” quote=”If your website doesn’t function correctly, you PROBABLY DO NOT HAVE a great website. #webdesign” theme=”style4″]
Bottom Line: If your website doesn’t function correctly, you PROBABLY DO NOT HAVE a great website. Again, if your content is really great, people can overlook a few broken links or difficult navigation. Of course, if your website is broken, most people will probably not read your great content, so they won’t know how great you are. 😀
It is funny, but this is what MOST people seem to mess up. Over the past 17 years, I have designed some beautiful websites that were fully functional … AND, they came with a content management system that was nearly “fool-proof” … but some clients still managed to mess their sites up so bad that I wouldn’t even include them in my portfolio. But enough about that. Let’s move on.
Your content is the MOST important factor in determining whether your website is GREAT or not. Great content can overcome a so-so design that is somewhat functional. But, realistically, most of us DO NOT write GREAT content anyway. I think what you need to aim for first is GOOD content.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your #content is the MOST important factor in determining whether your website is GREAT or not. ” quote=”Your #content is the MOST important factor in determining whether your website is GREAT or not.” theme=”style4″]
So… what makes GOOD content?
- Good content is content that your target audience WANTS to read.
- Good content is original, fresh, interesting. It is well organized, logical, and makes sense. (Trust me, I have read a lot of articles that made absolutely ZERO sense!)
- Good content is valuable and timely. It is frequently updated.
- Good content is content that has been proofread. It is free of spelling errors.
- Good content is content that has substance. Effort was put into writing it, formatting it for easy reading on the web, and selecting visuals to complement it or to tell a story.
Bottom Line: If you don’t care about writing good content, then you DEFINITELY DO NOT have a great website … or even a good one. In fact, you may as well take your website offline. NOTHING will make up for crappy content. Nothing.
So… How would you rate this website?
- Design: I purchased a premium Pravda WordPress Theme (affiliate link) with a clean, modern layout that has a “social media” look and feel to it. I spent time tweaking it until it met my exact content needs and looked “good enough”. CHECK.
- Functionality: I am 97% sure that everything functions correctly. If I do find something broken, you can be assured that I will fix it and not just ignore it. CHECK.
- Content: I hope my content speaks for itself. There is not a lot of it (I believe this will be blog post #18) as I am not a prolific blogger AND I have removed anything that I felt was too outdated or that I didn’t feel added enough value. I left a few articles that are no longer relevant (as they are still getting decent traffic); however, I did add notes to the top to let the reader know that the content either hasn’t been updated recently or is totally useless. 🙂 Bottom line? CHECK.
I’m going to go with “Pretty Good” as my rating. I am working to make it great. I think that’s going to take more good quality content in order to get there. Check back often to see my progress!
Wait! What about SEO you ask? What about tracking code? What about abc and xyz?!!
Oh, you read on someone else’s “Top 10 Things That Make a Great Website” article that your site needs to be search engine friendly and optimized?
Well, if you want to get traffic to your website via search, then sure, of course it does. BUT, that has NOTHING to do with whether or not you have a good or great website. Trust me, your website can be great even if you are the only one that knows it. Tracking code? Of course you want to include tracking code, for YOUR benefit. BUT, again, that has NOTHING to do with whether your website is great or not.
Remember: Design, Functionality, Content
If you get these three things right, you will have a good website. If your content is outstanding, you will have a great website. Really, it’s all up to you.
Wait… What’s with the monkey???
I like monkeys… it’s cute… I couldn’t find an image that I liked and actually made sense….
Oh, well, maybe that puts me back down to the “so-so” website level. Back to the drawing board.
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