What makes a good website? A focus on the user.

whatmakesagoodwebsiteHave you been to a website lately that just floored you with its fantastic design and features? Maybe not, right? Unless you’re actively looking for details, you might not take notice when a website is great. It’s similar to the way a great actor can make you forget about acting and draws you right in to the story. With a website, even though you may not be thinking about its virtues, it will likely prompt repeat visits because you know you will get what you are looking for.

And on the other hand, you probably notice right away when a website is bad. You can’t find what you came for; things aren’t working right; or they won’t load, and so on.  Avoiding problems like these goes a long way toward a great web presence.

So if you are looking for guidance on building your own great website, there are a lot of options to get you started, like this course on developing a site with WordPress. And as you begin learning the tools, think about some of these major factors that go in to delivering a positive experience for your audience:

Navigation

One of the most common problems website visitors will run in to is that they can’t find their way around a site. And your way of combatting this should essentially be good planning. Obviously, cramming everything into one page would be the worst possible way to go, so you’re going to have to put some thought in to how your site will be structured.

Adding to that is the challenge of different points of view. As the author of your site and the authority on whatever subject matter it contains, you might think of your content very differently than how visitors do. It’s important to match the flow and structure of your message to whatever is most intuitive for them.  This is a concept you can master, and you can get your start on it in a course on applying conceptual models to design usable sites and apps.

Spatial planning and responsive design

When you visit a friend’s Google+ profile, you might notice that the scrollbar does not start at the very top of the page. And when you do scroll the page up, you see that individual’s chosen cover image taking up almost the whole screen. That big image is nice, sure, but if that was the first thing you saw when you took a link to Google+, it might not make a very good first impression.  It doesn’t look quite right, and you might even close out, thinking it was some kind of spam-site.

Google developed that profile landing page that way for a reason. To create a pleasant and professional user experience, you need to consider positioning of page elements. A good site will get across a complete idea on a single page, and the pieces will fit nicely on the page. Of course with content heavy sites, like blogs, not all of the information will be on one page, but the page will still communicate a complete idea and include navigational elements, without the user’s needing to scroll.

This has become more complicated to achieve with the proliferation of mobile technologies and a variety of different screen sizes. However, if you get some basic training, like a course covering responsive web design, you will see that it is still within your control.

Code

So your website is navigable and its visual layout makes sense. That’s great! You also made sure you developed it in the most efficient and effective way possible, right?

When it comes to how your website ultimately looks, the ends don’t justify the means. What is going on under the hood will matter in a number of areas: how easy the site is for people to find, how quickly it loads, whether all of the page elements work, etc.

If you are taking on a web development project, you will do well to get a working knowledge of the languages and approaches developers use. This can help you spot areas for improvement with your own site and allow you to do revisions confidently. You can start learning right away, from your own home, with a comprehensive web development course designed for beginners.

Accessibility

One problem that will very quickly alienate audiences online is bad links and missing pages. Unfortunately, it is a common problem for new web authors, who often do not realize their resources are in the wrong locations, where users cannot reach them.

It’s important that you understand the mechanics of your site and how the hosting process works. If you are coming at it for the first time, it can be confusing, and possibly even a little intimidating. However, with a minor time commitment, you can master the unfamiliar processes and terminology in very little time.

If you need an introduction to all this, you can take a free web hosting course designed to get you up and running.

Easy does it

Keep in mind as you enter in to your web site project that your site can grow as you need it to and as you continue to expand your skills. You don’t need to come right out of the gate with a lot of intricate and complicated features. If you employ good design and development standards, you can start simple and still deliver an excellent web experience. Get creative and use what you know to its full advantage.

At the same time, with mostly everything you want to include on your site, remember that there is likely a straightforward way to get it done right. Use the internet to your advantage and get guidance from the experts. In no time, you will find yourself developing great pages your site visitors will love… even if it’s because of what they don’t notice!