What makes a good website?
A website is a living entity; a live electronic document which is evolving and renewing all the time... It has to continuously be kept active, through updations and revisions.
With a range of communication and branding needs now being addressed through websites, notions on good website design have evolved.
Understanding design priorities
Initially, it was all about visual razzle-dazzle and graphic gymnastics. Today's best websites march to the beat of a more seasoned drummer. They live and breathe as before, but without technical and technological over-embellishment and gimmickry. By and large, the emphasis is on succinct communication, easy navigation and quick downloading.
Technology is often touted as the alpha and omega of web design. But according to the best experts around the world, technology is still secondary to the navigation, design and content of a website. Incorporating a new technology is not rocket science. And technology components are available in the market, often at no cost. But what kind of technology you really need for your website has to be wisely assessed.
Criteria of a good website:
- Speedy Interactiveness
"Speedy interactiveness" is the critical factor. Most business sites cannot afford to test the patience of the browser. The home-page should download as quickly as possible. Subsequent pages should download even faster. Too many and too much animation or graphics may please the web designer, but not the visiting browser. (There may be justifiable exceptions to this: The user may be ready to wait patiently, because it is critically important to him/her to get certain information. Or he/she loves to see and enjoy certain effects in a website, so doesn't mind waiting.)
- Multi-browser Compatibility
Web design should be optimised for Netscape 4.X and 5.X, and IE 5.X and 6.X.
- Organisation of Content
A website should be user-friendly. The architecture of the site, the links and flow of information should be so lucid that the user can almost intuitively cruise through the website. It should be effortless and painless. Every degree of difficulty in touring the website will increase the probability of user drop-outs.
- Exhaustive and Specific Information
Sometimes it is difficult to determine the optimum amount of information. Inadequate information leaves the user feeling it was a waste of time. Exhaustive information organised at different levels, with specific details, is important.
- Elegant Writing and Graphic Design
At Resource, we believe that a certain elegance and élan in presentation form a part of the message. That is, the form is as important as the content. But neither should overshadow the other. Writing and design should be crisp and lively. Depending on the nature and content of the website, the tone can be serious or light-hearted. Writing should be transparent and unpadded, elegant and gracious.
- Video clips / Animation / Podcasts / Videocasts
As a genre, the Internet medium finds its position somewhere between printed material and television. It accommodates the detailed content of the print medium, but need not be as plastic and single-dimensional. Flash animation can be used discretely. Similarly, music, video clips and video/audio podcasts can bring in the warmth of a human presence or enable the viewer to visit a location, or see a product or process.
- Discussion boards / Chat rooms
Virtual communication, providing important opinion and feedback, can be created through internet forums like discussion boards and chat rooms.