Like any design, websites are experienced. Your goal should be to provide the best experience to the largest percentage of people who visit your site.
Whether or not you track your site’s analytics, you should be aware of how your site is experienced by its visitors. In addition to navigation and functionality, here my top 7 ways to give your visitors a great experience:
Be Beautiful. Beauty (aesthetic principles) enhances the value of a site (and of any design, for that matter) in the estimation of the viewer/visitor. Who wants to sort through clutter, cacophonous color schemes and a hodgepodge of images?
Be Relevant. Content on your web site should be meaningful to the audience you want to attract. Criteria for defining an audience include age range, income range, interests, geography, gender – general demographics. Always keep your target in mind when adding and updating content. Web sites should be more about their audience than their purveyor.
Be Readable. Use words on your web site, and make them easy to read. The textual copy should not only well-written (including no typos or grammatical errors), but should not be competing with backgrounds, images and other graphic content.
Be Flexible. Your site needs to fit and function on devices (phones, tablets) as well as on computer displays. Responsiveness to various device formats is a code-level capability, and is an absolute necessity in our mobile culture.
Be Obvious. The site should make it easy for visitors to understand what your business or organization is all about and what they are supposed to do once they get to the home page. Whether it’s to make a purchase, opt-in to a newsletter, volunteer, post a comment or contribute to a survey, the action links and directions need to be clearly and concisely stated. Let visitors know exactly what you want them to do.
Be Substantial. No matter what its purpose, a web site should be worth the visit. Styles (flat design, parallax effects, minimal) come and go, but substance is forever. Having a stylistically-trendy site can attract visitors, but a wow-factor alone is not enough. Substance is required for fulfillment. People visit your site for a reason – information, shopping, news, entertainment. If you’re not providing the stuff people are looking for, they will neither click through nor return.
Be Original. This pertains to the graphic content on your site and the overall design. There is nothing wrong with having a template-based web site (Weebly, WordPress, Blogger, Joomla), but do more with it than simply adding your own images and text. Design your site to fit your brand, including color scheme, typography, images and mood. Your textual content should also be unique.