What Makes a Great Website?

As mentioned in previous blogs, I am a member of a BNI Group in Wheeling, West Virginia. We have upwards of 30-members at any given time. Each week we present a 60-second commercial on our business. We also have a featured presenter that gets a full 10-minutes to discuss anything and everything about their business. We usually get to present twice a year.

It just so happens that my featured presentation was scheduled for April 1, 2021.

For your viewing or reading pleasure, I present to you my Featured Presentation.

Today marks my third presentation as a member of the Excel Chapter.

The first presentation talked a lot about me and how I became a web designer.

The second presentation was a game of Clue and showed how you can use your website to find out if your marketing dollars are working.

It’s funny that Web Design is in my business name but rarely do I talk about “websites”. I’m usually talking about digital marketing hacks or how to win over Google.

Today, April 1st, I will spend the next 9-minutes just talking websites.

Most importantly, let’s discuss what makes a good website.

Homage to the greatest show and the greatest disclaimer.

Devices

When you decide to design a website, the first thing you should focus on is the device a user is viewing your website on.

Back in 1999 – when I first started making websites – you only had to focus on one device. This made it super easy for designers. You could actually draw a website on a napkin and code the site to look exactly the same on-screen.

In 2021, you have to worry about mobile devices, tablets, smartboards, big desktops, and laptops.

You would have to use way too many napkins to design each page to look pixel perfect.

So what should you do?

Now there are experts out there that say you should focus on the mobile screen first. 60% of searches start with a mobile phone. Even Google said that they will only index mobile sites starting this year….

But what does Google know.

I say – let’s just get out the napkins and focus on what is tried and true. Desktops.

Some of my best websites were made for the desktop so why stop now.

I mean, it’s not a big deal that you have to pinch and zoom to read the text on that website.

Show of hands, who even has a smartphone? We are business professionals. We are all rocking Nokias, Razors, and Bag Phones – right?

We don’t need the TikTok kids going to our websites. We certainly don’t want them to share our content.

We can reach them in 10-years when they catch-up and start using the working-man’s desktop.

Speed

Let’s recap – a good website is made for a desktop.

Next, the website is worth the wait.

That’s right. People are patient. Gone are the days of the rat-race. We have time to relax in 2021.

We are willing to wait for that Blockbuster movie to come back in stock to watch the latest Mandalorian episode.

The 30-minute drive to Sam Goody’s is no big deal – especially when you know you are going to get to listen to your new CD in your car – on the way home.

Commercials – we watch them.

People have time to wait for your website to load.

Make sure you put high resolution images. Load all of your videos on the homepage. The more GIFs and animations – the better.

Now that we have 56k modems, everything is lightening fast.

Technology

Now this might get slightly in the weeds, but the format of your website matters.

If at all possible, all websites should be made using Flash. For those unfamiliar, Flash is a program that was popularized in the early 2000s and makes for great animation.

Now granted, there are a few drawbacks. iPhones can’t open Flash websites.

Sure, search engines can’t read the text on Flash sites.

But…those are minor concerns.

Look at those animations though.

Big Logos

Your business logo needs to be bigger. When you get a designer to build you a website – don’t even bother looking at the site. Just simply reply that the logo needs to be bigger.

When they send the draft back, hit reply as soon as you can and ask for the logo to be bigger.

Don’t accept a website until you demand a bigger logo – at a minimum of three times.

Everything Above the Fold

I know, above the fold is an old newspaper term. This basically refers to all of the content before you have to flip or open the paper. In our case, it would be everything before you start to scroll.

Many users try not to use a mouse or even their hands at all. For this reason, all good designers make sure all of the relevant information can be found in the navigation menu.

You can use dropdown menus, if needed – but it’s best to make every page on your site readily available.

You know don’t ask them to click, you won’t ever get the visit.

Content

They say Content is King.

But no one ever says who the King is….or how you get to be king.

Some websites become King by copying and pasting from other reputable websites. You like this companies about page, it’s your kingdom – Take it!

You like the images you found on that Google Search. Declare them yours and display them proud on your homepage.

Some people think making individual pages tied directly to a city is a good idea. I say duplicate that page and just change out the city name. That’s the best way to earn the top ranking position on Google.

If you put too much time in to the content on your site, you might end up getting way too many contact form submissions. They are all probably SPAM customers – so why bother.

Price

I know price isn’t an actual feature of a website, but it’s a good time to talk about website pricing.

I’ve been making websites for nearly 20-years and I’ve never put much money into my sites.

I mean, for a couple of bucks a month you can buy a hosting plan. Domains cost 99 cents for the first year.

If you have a computer with a standard Notepad and MS Paint, you can draft up a nice HTML website in no time.

I am a firm believer that anyone can make a website. There are commercials out there that even say you can launch a beautiful website in less than 15-minutes. With Drag and Drop editors, you too can produce a powerful website that will represent your professional brand to the world.

I realized that I wasted a lot of time and energy getting those three degrees. Web Design, Graphic Design, and Ecommerce – phooey. All I needed was a quick blog from HubSpot.com telling me how to create a lead-generating website.

Since the internet hasn’t changed much since 2004, I haven’t had to watch any training videos online, listen to any podcasts, or read the latest industry blogs.

Web design is an industry where you can learn your trade, sit back, and watch the web traffic come pouring in. I chose the right profession – for sure.

Final Thoughts

Don’t put much thought into your website. No one really uses the internet anymore – and if they do, they’ve already decided what businesses are “near me”.

But if you are contrarian in nature, I would be willing to listen to why you think a website should be:

  • Mobile Friendly
  • Fast
  • Accessible
  • User Oriented
  • Original
  • and Fresh.

I guess I could also be persuaded on why putting a little time and money into your “main” marketing tool is a good idea.