What Makes a Great Website?

We all know how important it is to have a website be able to communicate with the world. A good website just ‘does the job’ – a great website exceeds all expectations and thus has a far better return! The million dollar question is however; what makes a great website?

No, really – What makes a great website?

That really is the million dollar question. Many people have tried to tie this down to mitigating factors – but at the end of the day, in my opinion – a great website is one which meets the following rules:

Content

Content is easy to find

It’s simple – if a user can’t find information they are looking for, they have no reason to be on your site. You need to make sure content is easy to find; and in a variety of ways. For example, on Missing Pixel you can search the site for any keyword which will return a list of matching articles/posts, or you can click on the Home menu to show every article posted sorted by date. Further to that, there is a tag cloud to search by keyword or a direct link to each month with the number of posts that were published during that month.

You might be wondering why I have left that as a way to search for posts? Well, in essence it was a really easy decision. Not only does it just add another form of search – but there are times when monthly archives make sense. For example, if a website regular was to go on holidays for 2 weeks in one month and then come back to your website next month, all they want to see is what they missed out on – and this is where monthly-archiving achieves a sense of purpose.

Besides, my reporting/stats definitely show people are using it! 172 uniques can’t be wrong, right?

All in all, make sure you take every step you can possible to make sure the user experience is a good one; allowing them to find content easily will definitely help that endeavour.

Original and fresh content that brings people back

We have lots of RSS subscribers. I’m a huge advocate of RSS feeds! It means people can stay in touch with your website/blog/online endeavour and not have to worry about constantly reloading for new content. On the flip-side, it’s that new content that keeps people coming back. Whether or not they actually physically click on your site to see it, or read it through their RSS; they are still a visitor and they still have to be tracked!

Google itself considers the freshness of a link a massive importance when determining PageRank and relevance. Make sure you set yourself a blogging/posting/editing schedule and follow it to the best of your ability! SEO-wise, make sure you keep your homepage fresh and beaming with new content – but importantly, do not neglect your inner pages as well.

When I say inner pages, I don’t mean to go back and worry about a blog post you did 10 months ago; we’re talking about your ‘About’ page, or your ‘Services’ page! Keeping those integral pages fresh makes sure: 1) they don’t fall into supplemental results, and 2) Google and other search engines show you some love for those pages too!

Aesthetics/Look and feel

The website is physically appealing to look at

Let’s face it – the only reason people still visit UseIt – Jakob’s usability portal is because of his tremendous advise. No one is going there to admire his website design!

Unless you are an online giant who already has a user-base that will never deplete, i.e. Google, (who when you think about it has great website design because it’s fit for purpose) – you really need to make sure you look into your website design. It doesn’t have to be glitzy and glow; just appealing to look at.

I mean you might have people looking at the screen whilst browsing your site or blog for more than 5 minutes on end (or you hope, anyway!). Do you want them to not come back because they found the site looked a little too 1998?

I’ve seen numerous websites my friends have set up with an amazing idea, or great content that have simply given way due to the in-assurances that come along with badly-designed websites.

Things are where the user expects them to be

This is an important one. If you can’t get your website to look ‘amazing’ – meet the user half way and at least promote a sense of structure and conformity. You need to make sure you set out your page elements to be where the user expects to see them. Unless you are going for an ‘outlandish’ theme or look which you are trying to get noticed for – make sure you take into consideration what I’m going to call the ‘6 section grid model for website layout’.

model

As you can see to the right, web users are now confortable with the following grid on many websites. Unless you are trying to break the Interweb apart [laughs] – make sure your logo is on the top-most left section of the website. Same goes for your site search (if any) and top-level navigation.

You might be thinking – but why doesn’t Missing Pixel have navigation directly to the right of the logo? Obviously that’s not the point I’m trying to make. My navigation is easily recognisable, as well as still sticking to the top right section of the page. Please keep in mind these grids are only meant to be a guide and are not meant to be followed to the ‘tee’.

As long as content is easy to find, sections are split into bite-sized chunks of similarly-grouped information, and your content area is the most-prominent section of your layout, you should be good to go!

Consistency in colours and scheme

Make sure you try to keep everything consistent! Colours, headings, everything! Sometimes plugins, and other things like Google ads might not help you because they only allow you to change certain bits of detail. Don’t let that stop you from making sure everything that is in your power is consistent. There’s nothing worse than 43.5 different types of link styles. You don’t want one link to have an underline, one not!

Consistency above all means that users find it easier to connect to your website and also get more a feel for how everything works and what stands for what – e.g. links.

User-centered

Usability and accessibility is practiced

This one is important for many reasons. Check that you have taken adequate steps to enhance the usability and accessibility of your website. If you have forgotten the difference between accessibility and usability, check out ’10 reasons to justify a website redesign’. I will be blogging in more detail about accessibility more than anything else in a future post – but for now, a little teaser:

Make sure you check how your website, and more importantly, links – look to someone who suffers from varying degrees of colour blindness.

You might think that checking things like that are ‘way too left-field’ – but something as simple as this can be checked in 10 seconds and can mean the difference between someone with colour-blindness not being able to distinguish between your linked content and non-linked content! You still thinking it’s not worth it?

If there was anything I could do to give everyone equal chance of viewing my content/website or what I had to offer – then of course I’m going to do everything in my power to achieve that!

Look carefully at the link colour on “Continue reading Facebook launches chat toolbar. Now they’re talking!”. Notice how it’s already changed from the real, default colour that non-colour blind people should make out?

The user always has an opportunity to right their wrongs

Make sure there is always a way out for the user. A top navigation, side navigation, search and links back home are great players in this field. No matter how good your website is, there will always be users who get lost along the way. Depending on the type of site you are running, you might want to try the Hansel and Gretel tactics of ‘breadcrumbs’. Whatever you choose, make sure the user has ways to right any wrongs they create along the way getting them off-track!

Meaningful file names

This isn’t only great for SEO; it works wonders for the user experience. The address http://missingpixel.net/what-makes-a-great-website/ is a lot better than http://missingpixel.net/?p=16. I mean it’s not rocket science! Make your URL’s as easy to follow as possible. I should know what the link is about before I even click it! Cloaking or hiding information in strange URL’s kill the user experience and kill user-confidence in your website. Don’t do it!

Site architecture

Logical site structure

Make sure your website structure makes sense. Top-down, there should be a logical flow. The header should come first, followed by navigation (if not already part of your header section), followed by the content with any sidebars or side-navigation, and ultimately followed by the footer of the page.

Footers are just as important as headers. a good footer helps the user determine if the page has fully loaded. If the user doesn’t see what they are used to seeing at the base of your page, they should know that the page has not fully loaded yet; bet you didn’t think about that one!

Folksonomy and taxonomy

Tag your content as much as you can. Tagged content means related content. Try to relate articles wherever you can. It doesn’t have to be a ‘Related articles’ or ‘related posts’ section. It could be as easy as linking the user to relevant articles/web pages based on the current content of the page. Don’t just link-out for the fun of it – or to get more hits!

The way you classify and connect your information is just as important as the information itself! Keep that in mind when you are writing your next article or designing your upcoming website.

Purpose

At the end of the day, if there is no purpose to your website, then it won’t survive for long. Find a niche if you can and tackle it. if you are dealing with something that is ‘way beyond your marker’ or something which is totally hard to place yourself in; whether it be ‘Web design’ or ‘Get rich quick schemes’; the process is the same: find a reason to bring visitors back for me! Whether it is super-cool, fresh, relevant content, or a cool flash game that people just can’t get enough of!

Everything you create online should have an ultimate purpose to succeed!

Tracking and reporting

Finally, great websites learn from their mistakes! Use tools such as Google Analytics to help you determine popular and not-so-popular sections of your website. See if you can get down to the reason why ‘x’ is not as popular as ‘y’.

Good webmasters compare pages that work and don’t work and will simply weed-out or unpublish something which just isn’t pulling in the visitors as it did before. Greatwebmasters/designers will isolate the page and find out WHY it is failing.

Did you recently put some plugins such as text-ads or any other plugins which may have affected that page? Is there even a way to reach that particular page from other prominent sections of your website?

Put it this way: articles which you may have written 12 months ago, may become tomorrow’s most popular article online! History can and does repeat itself. What was last year’s news may, for whatever reason become popular again. Do not unpublish articles or remove pages simply because ‘they are getting too old’ or ‘you are running out of space’. Get more space!

There you go guys – another one bites the dust. Hopefully these articles/tutorials are hoping you achieve the best you can out of your website and online experience. Please share this post if you liked it.

5 Black Friday Web Hosting Deals You Just Can’t Miss

Have you been eagerly waiting for that perfect sale to fulfill all your wants? Well, here comes the good news. The Black Friday Web Hosting Deals are back in town and one cannot simply resist himself from this attractive offer.

Black Friday is the day just after Thanksgiving Day when various major and minor companies provide huge attractive offers and discounts to their customers. It’s time that you save this big date- November 25th. It is that time of the year when major players roll out the lowest possible rates on various technological services.

If you are a person involved into web hosting, then the good news is that even you can avail this tempting offer. If you have been looking for the ideal time to purchase various web hosting plans, then make use of this period. It is the ideal time for buying hosting for your personal and professional website so that you can save ample money.

Here comes the best 5 Web Hosting Deals which you can avail during this Black Friday along with their discount instructions which you just can’t afford to miss at any cost.

InMotion Hosting

This is one of the best and oldest players in the web hosting field. While some of you may think that is a bit expensive, but with the quality service that it provides, it gets reasonable. With an experience of more than 10 years, the company provides excellent technical support to its customers.

Check out the attractive features of InMotion Hosting:

  1. It provides a money back guarantee within 30 days of purchase.
  2. Free backups for all your data
  3. Year-round multi-language support through phone, live chat and email.
  4. Assures 100% satisfaction guarantee
  5. Ability to avail open-source applications
  6. Provides SSH access to protect your websites.
  7. Has a user-friendly process

Guide to use InMotion flat 50% off Black Friday Web Hosting Deals

  1. Open the homepage of InMotion
  2. Now choose a hosting plan that suits all your requirements
  3. Press the continue button and get your free domain name registered.
  4. You need to fill up the details along with the payment information.
  5. Now select the Purchase account button.

Bluehost

It is a popular hosting solution for any kind of Web Hosting Business. It beautifully balances its price and features for businesses to make them enjoy hosting services in a never before way. It offers plenty of options to experienced administrators. Before availing the Bluehost Flat 75% off Black Friday Web Hosting Deals, you need to check out some of its amazing features:

  1. Ability to access virtual private servers
  2. You can have dedicated server configurations too.
  3. Get adwords credit free of worth $100.
  4. Limitless Disk Storage
  5. Host unlimited domains
  6. Get free domain name registration
  7. Supports the international domain names
  8. Ability to support millions of other websites.
  9. A customer support working 24 hours a day and 7 days a week
  10. Avail add-on domains too

The discount instructions for Bluehost Black Friday Web Hosting Deals:

  • You need to visit the bluehost homepage
  • Now select the hosting plan that matches according to your requirements
  • Fill up your personal details along with the payment details.
  • Click on the Submit button. Now start enjoying the biggest discounts of the year.

Web Hosting Hub

It is ideal for sites which functions well on shared hosting in the short and long term issue.  Anyone who plans to own a small site can easily take their services. It is one of the most reliable, scalable web hosting companies offering services at a low price. They have plans to fit every kind of websites.

The Web Hosting Hub is offering a Black Friday Web Hosting Deal of up to 55% off.

Some of the features which Web Hosting Hub provides are as follows-

  • Provides you the perfect e-commerce tools for your website
  • Whenever you purchase a new hosting plan, you can register your domain for free.
  • Offers a read/write speed faster up to 20 times.
  • Provides a drag and drop editor with which you can build ideal websites.
  • The customer support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days in a year.
  • Offers a 90- day entire money-back guarantee from the date of purchase.
  • Provides limitless disk storage and bandwidth.
  • Ability to create unlimited e-mail addresses

GoDaddy

It is one of those Hosting companies which run multiple types of hosting plans. This ensures that they provide the best fit in terms of performance and pricing.

The Godaddy Black Friday Sale is back with flat 50% off. Before knowing about the way to proceed with the deal, go through its amazing features once.

  1. Provides unlimited data transfer facility along with an unlimited web space.
  2. Ensures its customers 30-day money back guarantee.
  3. Ability to create free domain name along with a free domain registration.
  4. You can access unlimited domains from a single account itself.
  5. Provides its customers free SEO tools and marketing tools.
  6. 99% Uptime service
  7. A 24 *7 customer support which runs 365 days a year.

Way to use the Godaddy Black Friday Web Hosting Deals:

  • Visit the homepage of GoDaddy web hosting first.
  • Choose any hosting plan which fulfills your requirements.
  • You need to enter your personal details now.
  • Now move to the payment options and fill the details there and the discount will be applied to your respective plan.
  • You are all set to avail the offer!

SiteGround

One of the most prominent among the prevailing web hosting companies, SiteGround has been into this web hosting business for long. With excellent technical skills they offer one of the best services in this field. Customers can select the data center according to their location to ensure that their site loads faster.

SiteGround is offering a 70% off in Black Friday Web Hosting Deals 2016. You can check the features below-

  1. 9% guarantee on uptime
  2. Daily backups for free
  3. A 24*7 customer support for 365 days a year.
  4. Provision of limitless traffic, database along with access to unlimited emails
  5. CloudFlare CDN for free.
  6. Provision of free domain name

So, it’s quite evident that with such attractive offers, you simply cannot ignore this attractive Black Friday deal. Hurry up to ensure that you don’t miss the best deals of the year.

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