What makes a good website?

By Published 29 June 2011

The following blog I have to credit to Smashing Magazine.  He talks here very honestly, and as a fellow web designer I felt it would be a good idea to share this with you.

Quote:

If you’re building a four-page website for your family reunion or a 5000-page website for a Fortune 500 company, then this guide might not be for you; it will either be too detailed or way too short, respectively.

Why Plan?

Planning is essential for most businesses and organizations. In practice, many people fail to plan their websites. Sometimes the ever-busy, dynamic nature of running a business is to blame; there are so many operational demands that proper time is not allotted to projects. But this often happens because people fail to recognize that planning for the Web is just as important as planning for anything else in a business.

Content Is Not Just Text

Unless you are creating the dullest, most technical website imaginable, your content should consist of more than just plain text. By using one or more of the following multimedia elements, you’ll greatly enhance the appeal and usefulness of the website:

Images;

  • Documents (usually PDFs);
  • Audio;
  • Video (i.e., embedded from YouTube or Vimeo, or self-hosted);
  • Adobe Flash files;
  • Content feeds (from other websites, for example);
  • Photos (from Flickr perhaps);
  • Twitter stream;
  • Facebook “friends” list
  • RSS feeds.

The Value of Good Photography

Like other elements of a website, photos communicate the brand of the organization. If you’ve just moved into a beautiful new building or storefront, you may have snapped some pictures of it and your staff on your $150 digital camera. In most instances, unless you have bona fide photography skills, these will not be quality photos. Try to budget for professional photography. You don’t necessarily need a lot of photos, just good ones. Twelve professional images is better than fifty amateur snapshots.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a pro, then contact your local art school or community college and ask for a recommendation. A budding student photographer with a good eye will work for cheap in order to build a portfolio. If you have no budget at all, then take the photos yourself, but pay special attention to lighting, framing and focus… and hope for the best.

In some cases, when generic images will suffice, stock photography can be used. But there is no substitute for quality photos of your staff, storefront, products or services.
The Value of Good Writing

Good writing, like good photography, requires a skill that not everyone possesses. Writing for the Web is different than writing memos, policy papers and technical documents. You might write great technical manuals for precision machining tools, but that doesn’t mean you can write well for the Web. If your organization doesn’t have someone who can write clear and concise marketing copy, hire an expert. If you can write reasonably well but need some guidance, consider hiring an editor to polish your output.

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Author: Alison Boyle

Alison co-founded LA Marketing and is specialist in strategic online marketing for small businesses, and is passionate about teaching SME’s to grow their business through understanding social media, and empowering them to market themselves online. You can follow Alison on Twitter or Google+

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