Design basics of a good website

Since I am a website designer, I am also often asked what makes for a good website design. Think about it for a second, especially if you either are looking to build your own site or find someone who actually knows how. When you visit a site and find that you are staying for awhile, how come? The number one factor that keeps visitors on a site is accessibility.

As web design developed throughout the 90s and early turn of the century, both Netscape and Explorer had many people convinced that these were the only browsers that would view pages properly. In many instances, web designers lured by the supposed popularity of these two browsers had to embed on their pages somewhere the admonishment, “These Pages Are Best Viewed in Either Netscape or Explorer.”

Fast forward to 2010.

As long as you employ standard  HTML (we’re on version 4–soon version 5), you should have no problems with any browsers.

Furthermore, a good website provides a service to any visitor by giving something away, even if it is but a good time reading content on your landing page. I always enjoy reading copy that makes me chuckle. Some web content writers have that ability to grab visitors and while entertaining them provide valuable information. Information is the most popular giveaway on the Internet today. Other sites might provide valuable advice or some type of free product like software, a game or other commodity that will entice people to show up.

Never charge for admission to your website. Not only is it arrogant, the prevailing feeling is that the Internet should remain a free range for the exchange of information. It’s one thing to create an e-commerce site to sell goods and service, but, wait a minute, you want to charge me to visit your site.

Additionally, a great deal of what actually makes a good website comes down to common sense. Many site owners in attempts to keep production costs to a minimum, overlook the most manageable aspects about website presentation that do make a difference. These overlooked areas include:

  • Lack of original content
  • Overuse of data instead of information
  • Inability to provide credible and useful information
  • Obsolete or dated information – lack of frequent updates
  • Presence of poorly written copy
  • Presence of typos indicating poor editing
  • Over use of external links
  • Overuse of graphics and Flash elements
  • Non-intuitive internal navigation

As you can readily see, much that can be controlled is content. Although many visitors to a website might say, “Wow. What cool graphics. Check out the Flash!,” these sites confuse appearance with substance. In fact, recent interviews at, web designers stated that Flash is definitely abused because many people will misuse it because design clients think it is cool and creative when, in actuality, it is often inappropriate as well as extremely annoying.

How often do you hit the “Skip Intro” button when landing on a Flash Intro page? Information should always reign over the bells and whistles accompanying cool-looking Flash. Make it easier on your website visitors by creating a website that’s easy to navigate, loads quickly and is aesthetically pleasing.

Author: Demetrius Pinder

Owner and Project Manager of Nuts and Bolts Web Design. Computing Support Specialist II at the University of Delaware. Adjunct Professor. Proud Husband, Father and dog owner!