There are certain characteristics that make or break a website. Most are obvious – you can look at a website and know instantaneously whether its appearance is good or not. Some elements however are less apparent and their importance can easily be overlooked, but it’s the package as a whole that turns an average looking website into something spectacular that works.

You don’t have to be a website developer to have an eye for detail though; understanding the basics and launching a website that is easy to use, informative and creative will go a long way.

1. Remember Your Audience, Then Engage Them

You can’t get too far in the preparation stages for your website if you don’t know your audience and what they need. Remember – you’re building a website for your clients, not for you so directing the design and content to them is crucial. Once the website’s purpose is defined and fits with the needs of your audience – you need to engage them.

Compelling content means nothing and interactive graphics attract no one if consumers aren’t even going to the site. As your audience and potential clients see the value in your website, or become interested in the information being provided they will visit it more frequently. A great website engages the audience, leaves an impression that gets talked about and brings them coming back for me.

2. Keep Pages at a Good Length

Pages that force you to scroll down at arm’s length bombarding you with stacks of information cause us to tune out pretty quickly, or worse – leave the website. Consider the length of your webpages and keep them short, but not too short.

Writing for the web is different from writing for print. The contents of your page should provide users with the information they want, quickly, so use bold headings and subheadings to break up text. People skim through content more than reading it when it comes to online pages– especially when they first land on the webpage so provide enough detail without overloading.

3. Evolve Your Site’s Content

Great content evolves as new information eventuates and trends come and go. The older your content gets, the less relevant it is making it harder for search engines to find you and your audience’s hunger for fresh content unfueled. Both search engine and consumers love content and the easiest way to have it evolving is through news and opinions (blogs).

Without content on your website, search engines can’t find you and your audience will get bored – so uploading material on a regular basis that is exciting and engaging is essential.

4. Make Google Happy

Content makes Google happy, but to create a website that is SEO friendly is more than just consistently great articles. A fantastically designed website that is appealing to the eye is useless if no one can find it – optimising your website for major search engines like Google will ensure your hard work doesn’t get lost.

Having a fast loading website and a balanced amount of the right and relevant keywords are good places to start for a SEO friendly site.

5. Use Consistent Colour and Font Themes

A website is part of your company’s branding tool and thus, it should reflect what your business is about. Clients should be able to land on your page and know by the colours and font schemes used who you are.

Rule of thumb is to not use more than three different font types and making sure it’s a decent size, clear and easy to read is important. Fonts that look good on paper don’t always look great on your phone and computer screen so keep this in mind also.

With both font and colour, consider your company’s branding theme and stick to a consistent style, you want people to recognise your brand at a quick glance.

6. Check Your Links

There is nothing more frustrating than landing on a webpage only to be greeted with an error 404. This indicates a broken link and is a notorious pitfall in web design. All links should be checked, make sure they are current and remove or replace links that are broken.

Broken links tell users and search engines that your website isn’t being maintained properly or checked regularly.

7. Make Your Website User Friendly

Navigation on a website should be clear and super easy to follow, so consider the layout and organise the content accordingly. You want the user to enjoy their experience on you site as it’s this they take away with them.

Ensure your user feels comfortable and in control by providing simple site maps and keeping individual pages consistent. Having a user-friendly website will keep consumers happy and wanting more.

Written by Jayde Ferguson: Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Bouncing Orange, Perth’s web development, web design, branding and online marketing digital agency.