As a professional web design business, we have created and re-created many sites. The "great" ones have certain things in common. We thought we'd share those elements with you...
Easy to read: If background colors or images are used, the text on top of the background should be in a color that can easily be seen. Use a color scheme that complements and is pleasing to the eye. White space between images and sections of text make a page easier to view.
Easy to navigate: A visitor should be able to find the information they are looking for without hassle and frustration. The site's navigation buttons should be grouped together. If image links are used, text links should also be provided for those people who have images turned off on their browser or are using an older browser that doesn't support images.
Comfortably viewed: A Web site should be easily viewable in all screen sizes without a visitor having to scroll horizontally (left to right).
Quick to download: Graphics and sounds add download time to a Web page. Use them sparingly. Don't make your visitors wait too long for your site to download or they will click away and probably won't return. It is a good idea to find out what the approximate download times are for people who are using 28K and 56K telephone modems. Not everyone has DSL or cable Internet.
Avoid dead links: Make sure that links on all your pages are working, whether they are internal links to pages within your site, or links to external Web sites.
Keep the content fresh: People are more apt to return to your Web site if they find new and interesting material. Post articles on your site, offer a newly updated "Internet Special" or provide fresh, helpful links. All these things cause visitors to bookmark your site as a reference tool.
Clear and to the point: Visitors should have a clear understanding of what your Web site is about when they visit. Studies have shown that people do not like to read computer screens, so keep your Web site copy interesting to read and to the point.
Keep your target audience in mind Think about the people who would be interested in visiting your Web site. If you are designing a web site about razor blades and shaving cream for men, the site should have a masculine feel to it. Decorating the page with pink hearts and roses would not be a good idea!
Provide a form for visitors to contact you Visitors are more likely to fill out a form to contact you than clicking on an e-mail link. Always make things easy for your visitors... especially contacting you.
Browser compatible Check your Web site in the most popular browsers to make sure everything is displayed properly. The top two browsers used are Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, but there are others such as the AOL browser, Mosaic, Opera and Web TV to name a few. Various versions of the same browser also display differently. It is a good idea to have a program on your computer that checks browser and version compatibility.
A great Web site isn't about fancy graphics, java scripts and animations. It is about creating a pleasurable, useful experience for your visitors... one they will want to repeat over and over again!