What makes a great website?

An image of a smartphone and tablet displaying the homepage of the Grand Visual website – What Makes a Great Website?

For most people, their first point of contact with your organisation will be your website. Consequently, it will be at the core of communicating your brand’s story, and will be the hub around which much, if not all, of your marketing and communications will flow.

It’s essential that your website tells your story effectively, and creates a good impression of your brand. If your website looks dated and content poorly organised it’s not going to inspire a lot of confidence in your business.

So, what makes a great website?

1. It fulfils business goals

An image of an e-commerce website sales information page – Tribus Creative, London – great website design for small businessesFor a web design to be effective, and a worthwhile investment of your time and money, the process should first and foremost have your business goals in mind.
It’s not enough that it looks good, it has to work hard to help your business grow.

Whether you’re looking to increase sales leads, raise more donations, or sell more products, those business objectives must be key factors in the design process.

After all, it’s no good your visitors thinking, “What a lovely looking site, but what exactly do they do?”

A good web agency will work with you to determine your business goals and put them front and centre from the start.

2. It offers a great user experience

An image of some website heatmaps – Tribus Creative, great web design for small businessesSo you have a site focused on achieving your business goals, but that counts for nothing if the design offers a lousy user experience.

If you visit a website that is difficult to navigate or where information is hard to find, you’re unlikely to go back to it again, and your prospective customers are no different.

A site interface must be intuitive, gently guiding users to the information they need exactly when they want it.

Your content must be well-organised, easy to find, and written in plain language.

And your site must have a sense of personality, it may even be fun, because no one wants to get stuck with the dull guy at a party.

So when looking for an agency that will design a great website, look for one with a design process that is user-focused and that employs research and usability testing. 80% of internet users now use a smartphone to search the web, so your website will need to be mobile-friendly. Agencies that employ techniques such as adaptive and responsive web design will be able to create a website that takes into account devices, browsers and user context.

When we design a new website, we continually ask ourselves, “What does the user want to achieve? How can we help them achieve it? And how can we make the experience enjoyable?”

3. It is visually attractive and engaging

An image of a highly visual hotel website – Tribus Creative, web design for small businessOne way to provide an enjoyable web experience is to offer a site that is visually engaging. You may not always be able to explain why something is attractive, but you know it when you see it.

Whether you want to present your organisation as calm and dependable, or energetic and fun-filled, expert use of elements like colour, typography, layout, and photography are essential in making your site appealing and memorable.

When choosing your web design agency, look at their previous work and assess whether the sites they have produced are visually appealing, reflect the personality of the organisations they’re designed for, and successfully supports their brands.

4. It can be discovered

An image of a search engine results page on a laptop screen – Tribus Creative, web design for SMEsIt’s no good having a beautiful looking website, that offers a wonderful user experience, and supports your business goals, if nobody ever sees it.

The harsh truth is, if you build it they will not just come. If your site is to offer a good return on investment, people need to be able to find you on Google and the other search engines.

Make sure then, that the web company you select can produce a website that uses clean URLs (page addresses), and include appropriate meta and structured data so that search engines can easily index your content and associate it with search terms. Your site will also need to contain relevant, informative content that is rich with keywords, and offers visitors information of value.

If you’re launching a new site, or selling online, it may also be worth considering online advertising to build awareness. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising such as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn ads can bring a lot of targeted traffic to your door. For e-commerce, Google Shopping, display adverts, and retargeting can also be hugely effective.

5. It can grow or change as your business does

An image of a website content management system dashboard on an iMac screen – Tribus Creative, web design for businessA great website should make it easy to change content. It should also be scalable and allow for new sections and functionality to be added without requiring major redesign work.

We believe it should also be built on non-proprietary frameworks that allow you to move it to the hosting service or web agency of your choice whenever you wish. Some companies use their own content management systems which means you need to go to them whenever you want changes and moving to another agency will require a new website.

At Tribus, we think you should come back to us because you want to, not because you have to. That’s why we specialise in building websites on widely adopted content management systems, and whenever possible use open source platforms, like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or Magento.

You should consider your website to be an evolving thing, changing as the needs of your users change. Rather than creating a site which doesn’t change for three years and then undergoes a major redesign, consider ongoing iteration — it will lead to a site better tailored to purpose and, in the long run, will be more cost-effective for you.

Get in touch

If you’re looking for a web design agency to design you a great website, why not get in touch? We’ll be happy to give you a free telephone consultation and quote.

About the Author

Nick Irons

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Nick Irons is Co-founder and Creative Director of Tribus Creative Ltd., a brand communications company for small businesses. He spent almost fifteen years in the entertainment industry as a writer, producer, and performer, before moving into branding and design consultancy. He is a fervent believer in the power of storytelling to unlock the value in brands both big and small.

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