A good website gives users the information they need as quickly and easily as possible.
That being said, we can get more specific. Here’s a short list of what makes a good website “good” — we’ll dig into each of these items in this post and explain what we mean.
A good website is:
This list flows entirely from the principle I listed earlier — that what makes a good website good is its ability to give your users the information they want without throwing up roadblocks, and to do so quickly. Let’s talk about that a little bit before we dig into each item listed above.
What Makes a Good Website Good? Its Ability to Fulfill User Intent
Your website has one job — serve information to a user. If your user is coming from a search engine, they usually have a specific question they want an answer to. If they’re coming through some other method, they may have a different intention — to make a purchase, for example.
In all cases, a good website serves them the information then need when they ask for it. That’s the only real job of your website.
Now take this with a grain of salt — from your point of view, your website may have many different jobs.
For instance, you might want your website to:
Your users could give two figs about all that. They’re coming to your website for one thing, and one thing only — information.
Now that information could come in the form of a product or a service, and the only information they’re seeking is how to actually make a purchase. But that’s rare. In most cases, for most visitors to your website, people are there to get some sort of info.
A good website gives users the information they need as quickly and easily as possible
Maybe they want to learn more about your products or services.
Maybe they want to figure out how to contact you or how to apply for a position.
Maybe they want to learn more about some subject that you’ve written a blog post or an email about.
Maybe they just want to find out more about you and your company to see if you’re someone they want to do business with.
Whatever the case, anything that impedes their goals is going to make a website bad.
That list above? If you want to make a good website, you need to follow that list — if you want to make a crappy website that no one wants to visit, then do the opposite.
Let’s talk about the importance of each item on that list and really dig into the factors that make a good website good
A Good Website Is Mobile Responsive
Google loves mobile, and if Google loves it, it’s generally because they think users love it.
And guess what? Users love to access websites on mobile devices.
In fact, mobile traffic recently overtook desktop traffic for websites worldwide. And Google (and all the other search engines) have begun mobile-first indexing, which essentially means the mobile version of your website is now more important than the desktop version.
If you have two versions of your website, the mobile version better be fully functional — if not, you’ll pay for it with lower rankings for your content.
But beyond that, if your website isn’t easy to use on mobile, if mobile is an afterthought, then your users (most of whom are likely accessing your website through their mobile devices) are going to struggle, and if they struggle, then your website isn’t going to perform well, because they’re not going to come back to your website (or even bother to navigate through it).
You’ll lose traffic and fail to build an audience if you annoy your users, and that’s no good.
A Good Website Loads Quickly
If your website takes 87 years to load, users are going to click away. Modern users have no tolerance for slow websites. If your website takes more than even a few seconds to load, they might simply click the back button and try another.
Get this as deep into your head as possible: Most people don’t give two figs about your website, no matter what it is you sell or what information you have — they will find another website if yours won’t load.
Consider this: After about 2 seconds, page abandonment really starts to creep up.
Websites that load slowly are no good at all.
A Good Website Has Awesome Content
Remember, people are coming to your website primarily for information — they generally don’t make a purchase until they get a lot of information about the product or service, and they often don’t even get to the point where they want to make a purchase before getting to know your business and what you offer.
People come to your website because you have something of value. Even if you already have an awesome product, people want to learn about it. Your website needs to have good, informative content that’s chock-full of value.
If someone comes to your website, will they find what they seek? Will they read or watch your content and be impressed, feel like their question that led them to your website was answered, and come back for more?
They will if the information on your website is high quality. That means it’s carefully researched, contains links to relevant sources, answers a number of questions thoroughly, covers the topic completely, and helps them figure out where to go next to learn more or take action based on the information they just consumed.
A Good Website Is Easy to Read and Scan
Content is great and all, but if you don’t have headings or subheadings, if there are no bullet points, if all someone sees is a huge wall of text, they’re probably not going to enjoy the experience of reading much.
Sometimes this can work (people expect a wall of text if they’re reading a short story, for example), but in the vast majority of cases, people are looking to find a single answer, or perhaps a few, and don’t want to read every word on every page.
“People want instant gratification and quick fixes.” This is the perennial truth of writing for the web: People are only going to read a portion of what you write. Modern users look at most pieces of content the same way they look at an instruction manual — they’re scanning to find a particular answer, and for many, that’s all they need.
Even those who dig deep are going to scan the bottom part of the article. People just don’t have time these days to read everything, but even when they do, bullet points and headings make the experience more palatable.
A Good Website Has Calls to Action
This is a simple one, but it can’t be ignore. If your website doesn’t specifically call users to action, which is to say, if each piece of content doesn’t specifically tell people what to do next, then users are going to:
A call to action (CTA) should be on every page, on every piece of content. It should tell users what to do next. It might look something like this: