What makes For A Great Website Design?

You will be familiar with an old expression, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”. I believe it is attributed to Aristotle. But what does that mean, exactly? Here’s my interpretation. Take a look at this very famous painting below.

The Hay Wain, by John Constable

The Hay Wain, by John Constable (image in public domain)

Isn’t that just beautiful? And yet, the parts that go into it are a piece of canvas, some oil paints, and a frame. It’s not the “parts” that are important, it’s how they are combined and put together that create the painting.

I feel like a great web website design is similar in some respects. The parts are various programming and markup  languages (html, css, javascript and php to name a few), content, and a framework to glue it altogether. The ways that these can be created used and assembled are almost endless, as are the results.

What To Look For

We all know what makes a bad website… it might take forever to load properly, you go round in circles trying to find the information you want, or perhaps its simply doesn’t function correctly on your phone. You will have your own preferences as to what a good design will look like. Maybe you like clean and simple, perhaps fancy with bells and whistles. But to be honest, what’s more important is how your site visitors feel about it. And of course Google, assuming you are relying on search engine traffic. Below are some of the things that all great website designs have in common.

 

Navigation

To me, this is one of the big things that has to be done right. The larger your website, the more important it becomes… people want to be able to find the information they need quickly and easily without going around in circles trying to achieve that.
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Load Speed

Not all websites are going to load at a blistering pace. But that’s not to say we shouldn’t do what we can to maximize speed. Images optimized, scripts and http requests organized correctly. This website is never going to be fantasticly quick to load, the number of scripts and large high quality images will make sure of that. But as you can see from the speed test below, it is still respectable.

Content

No matter how fantastic everything else is, it’s the content that sets a great website apart from the competition. Content that people want, well written, well presented, and unique. We aren’t all going to be talented wordsmiths (I know I’m not) but that doesn’t mean we can’t create content that people are eager to consume.

 

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