Tips to create an effective website
The characteristics of an effective website
An effective website is often the result of the balance between several factors: idea, graphics, content hierarchy, navigability, positioning on search engines, proper identification of the target and much more.
Based on our personal experience of sites development for different businesses, we will try to dissect some of these factors.
How much does a website cost?
It is certainly a critical point for everyone, isn’t it? For us the right answer is: it depends. An articulated e-commerce and a showcase site are two different things and the amount of work involved is different. First, it is necessary to clarify what type of site you want to create. Then, a realistic estimate can be provided.
The customer is (almost) always right 😉
All the aspects dealt with in the previous point must be clarified in as much detail as possible during the interview with the potential client. At this stage, the watchword is: ask the right questions and LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. Be sensitive to key information and try to write down anything that may be useful. After the interview, it is good practice to write and share a summary of the salient points that emerged during the discussion, in order to make sure that you properly understood your clients desires. Remember: making adjustments in the early stages of the job is much less expensive than doing it later on.
Especially in the preliminary phase, it may happen that the customer’s ideas are not always clear. It is up to you to guide your client to one (or more) solutions. So listen, but also learn to make yourself heard. Be prepared to make some adjustments when necessary, but also to defend your position when you know that you are offering the best possible solution to a specific problem.
Our advice is: don’t be afraid to be boring. Be as articulate and detailed as possible. Clearly write which activities are up to you and which to the customer (because a website is always the result of a collaboration that requires flexibility and availability, but also method and firm points). Give a rough estimate of the lead time and remember that often your client is not a website expert (and doesn’t have to be). It is therefore up to you to express yourself in a language that is as simple and understandable even for non-professionals. Both sides will benefit from that.
If your client doesn’t already have one, choose a concise domain, easy to remember and consistent with the business you need to advertise. Remember to check the availability of the domain (i.e. that it is not already used by others). Normally this can be easily verified on the main hosting services’ websites.
The watchword is: quality. Write simple, clear, straight to the point text and link to authoritative external resources. Let’s not talk about the (very important) titles that deserve a separate discussion. Always keep in mind semantic optimization for search engines, without however penalizing the readability of the content for the human user.
When possible, choose photos and videos made by professionals, take care of the aspect ratio to make them responsive and reduce their weight to avoid slowdowns in the page loading.
Navigability & user experience
Upstream of good navigability there is a rigorous subdivision of the contents, that is a clear menu, with consistent, understandable and clearly visible items. You have to put the user able to move easily between pages and intuitively find the content they are looking for in a few clicks of the mouse (or finger tap, depending on the device). Good design is one that manages to guide the user’s eye through a clear hierarchical organization of contents. The various components of a page must be immediately identifiable and recognizable (titles, body text, primary and secondary call to action buttons, interactive elements, etc.). Our advice is to remove all that is not needed, do not be afraid to use white space to give the page breath and use the contrast consistently in terms of colors and dimensions of the elements of the page. That said, put the site to the test: make a user navigate and check if he/she can find the information he/she needs intuitively in a few clicks.
A good site is reachable. It is crystal clear that today the competition is top-level. The web is overflowing with more or less good content and standing out requires clear ideas and a lot of work. For this reason, once you have made the choice to invest in the creation of a site, we strongly recommend that you consider SEO optimization. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) includes a series of activities useful to boost the indexing and positioning of a site’s content.
Social media have an increasing weight on the positioning of content on the web. Producing quality content and making it shareable, offering an unusual point of view or a new interpretation, is undoubtedly advisable. But remember that social media is not a game. Creating and sharing quality content takes time and effort. Put it into account.
What we have written are general guidelines born from our personal experience of developing sites for our customers. For us, each customer represents a different challenge. The purpose of our work is to put in his/her hand a tool that is as simple and functional as possible that meets his business objectives, while at the same time enhancing his brand identity.