SWC Blog

What Makes a Good and Bad Website?

Shala Graham - Friday, July 30, 2010

Everybody assumes that their website looks great, then they wonder why their site lacks traffic or why people have trouble navigating it. In this post, we'll discover what makes a website good or bad, based on real life examples.

Example 1

Bad Website

smithandgoldsmith.homestead.com

There is way too much going on with this site. They have a background that is overpowering, text on top of pictures, gradient buttons that don't hyperlink well, squares that don’t line up, and scrolling yellow text. The site lacks clarity and a consistent, global navigation.

Good Website

www.missionbicycle.com

Upon entering the site, you find an engaging picture, clear navigation, and you immediately understand what the site is about and what they are trying accomplish. The navigation uses icons with text to make it easier for you to figure out where to go. The tagline is very visible, which communicates exactly what their company is about. It's clean and has some great colors that aren't over the top.

Key Takeaway: Your website should be easy to navigate and represent a clear brand.

Example 2

A Bad and Better Website

www.weighmax.com

This screenshot is from when their website was on the bad website list. The site is not very cohesive: the text is very hard to read because there is not enough contrast between the text and the background, and the graphics with the color overlays make it feel like clipart.  

Below is their site after a redesign. It's much easier to navigate, the layout keeps important features above the fold, and the color is not overpowering.

Key Takeaway: Your website is oftentimes the first contact a client has with your business. That means it is very important for it to not only work great, but also to look professional.

Tips to Help You Build a Great Website

Make it easy for site visitors to find what they're looking for. Put yourself in their shoes and consider: "If I was visiting this site for the first time, would it be easy for me to navigate this site?"

Use color with caution. Color can make or break a website just like bad design, so use color wisely. A splash here and there is fine, as long as your colors work well together and accurately represent your brand. You don't need to use yellow and neon pink on every page to make your website "pop."

Don't develop a site with only images. If you use images for every piece of text you have, then search engines such as Google will never find you. Images can't be read by web crawlers so you will likely lose on traffic and search engine rankings.

Always keep your customers in mind! This is one thing people seem to forget. It is not important whether your favorite colors are blue and pink. It is important whether the website is functional and has great design. Set your key goals and constantly analyze if you are moving toward or away from those goals.

Work with a professional. As we mentioned earlier, your website is likely to be the first impression that someone has about your organization. You may be intelligent and professional, but if your website doesn't reflect those qualities, you could potentially lose a customer, a donor, or a volunteer.

I hope that these tips will serve you well. If you're interested in exploring more examples of good design, check out our website portfolio »


About the Author: Shala W. Graham is the Principal and Creative Director of SW Creatives. She founded SW Creatives in 2005 in the hopes of building a firm dedicated to excellence, honesty and compassion. With a background in web and graphic design, Shala's expertise also encompasses large-scale print design, branding, front-end web coding and project management.


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