9 Simple TIPS To Building a Good Website

Summary List

Provide compelling content / something of value  

Avoid Sleazy or Distracting Materials

Make it Easy to Find Information and Services/Products

Don’t Bog Your Website Down

Website Readability

The Right & Wrong Way of using Links

Test your Links

Make Contact Info Accessible

Use Original Content

1) Provide compelling content / something of value

Make sure each page in your website has something valuable to offer. 

Though this doesn't really relate to design, it's actually more important than design, which is why it's the very first tip. There are many useless pages that look pretty, because they think that style is all that really matters. So let's step back a minute and realize that fundamentally a web page exists to provide something that's useful or interesting to visitors. If your page doesn't have that, then you must fix that problem before you worry about how to present it. What are you offering to your visitors? Why is it worth their time to visit your site? Please focus on that before you move on to how it should look.

If the plan is to make money from advertising, then go for a ratio of at least 75% Editorial to 25% Advertising. Don’t fall into the trap of having a website that are almost nothing but ads. No one would turn on the TV if it were just commercials, and no programs, or buy a magazine if it were just ads, and no articles.

2) Avoid Sleazy or Distracting Materials

Don't distract your visitors with blinking or scrolling text, animated GIFs, or auto-loading sound. 

Animation and sounds are distracting. No one can concentrate on reading what's on your site when there are things flying around the page? Visitors who have slow connections may resent that you wasted their time by forcing them to load animations and sound files against their will.


Readers who are bombarded by blinking ads are more likely to leave the site immediately without clicking on anything, and are far less likely to bookmark the site, return to it, link to it, and recommend it.

Another problem with scrolling text is that the reader can't read it at their own pace. They're forced to read it at whatever speed you deliver it.

Don't annoy your visitors with pop-up/pop-under windows. 

Nobody likes popups. Here again, the only reason a site would have popups is because the site owner is thinking of his/her own interests rather than the readers. We all know that when we're browsing we hate popups, but suddenly when we switch hats and become the site owner, we lose our ability to see through the users' eyes. So let's remember to put ourselves in their shoes. Which of these reactions to popups is a visitor is more likely to have?

Don't use image backgrounds. 

An image background makes the website look "amateur", because it's mostly amateurish sites that use them. Follow what these respected sites are doing, none of them (Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, the New York Times, or any others) are using it.

Another problem with Image Background is that they take longer to load. Certain image backgrounds are fine if you know what you're doing. They can work if you make sure the contrast is very high.


3) Make it Easy to Find Information and Services/Products

Put some thought into organization.

Think about what content you have and how it should be organized.

Minimize Clicking

Put as few cli.cks between your visitor and your information as possible. This is so important I'll repeat it: Put as few clicks between your visitor and your information as possible. The more you force your visitors to click around your site the more likely they'll abandon it.

Minimize Scrolling

Limit page length to 2 screenfuls, or 6-7 screenfuls for articles.

While you should put a lot of info on each page to minimize clicking, don't go too far in the other direction by putting too much info on a page. You should normally limit a page to no more than two screenfuls of info. Articles are exceptions, because articles are longer by nature. But even so, very long articles (more than about 6-7 screenfuls) should usually move into a separate page.

Include a way to get back to the home page, on every page.

When users get lost, they like want to start over from the home page. Make it easy for them to do so. If you're including a clickable logo on the top of every page, make sure to also include text that says something like "Home", because some users don't realize that logos take you back to the home page.

Include a menu on every page.

While you should provide a way for users to get back to your home page quickly, you shouldn't force them to go home before they can go somewhere else. Include a menu on the left or the top of each page.

Don't put navigation links only at the bottom of pages, because then users will have to scroll down to the bottom to get to them (unless your pages are very short).Users clearly dislike links at the bottom of long pages.

Don't use frames.

You might be tempted to use frames because it makes it easy to have the same header or menus appear throughout the site. And usability studies do show that users find sites with frames "Easy to Comprehend", "Easy to Navigate", and "Easy to Find Info". But there are two serious downsides to frames: First, the address bar doesn't change as you go from page to page. That makes it impossible for anyone to bookmark or link to a specific page in your site, or to share that page with a friend by emailing them the link. Second, when a page within your site other than the frameset shows up in a search engine, a visitor clicking over to that page will see just that subpage without the surrounding frame.


4) Don’t Bog Your Website Down

Compress your image files.

Nothing is more annoying to readers than waiting for a 200k graphic to load when it should be only 20k instead. Graphics software can compress files so they take up less room on your disk, and therefore take less time to load into your visitors' browsers. Get some graphics software and shrink those file sizes!

And as mentioned earlier, don't bog your site down with auto-playing sound files, either.

Don't let flashy multimedia ruin your site.

Flashy graphics and multimedia controls may look nice, but they're bad when they make it hard for visitors to get the information they want from your site. Nobody wants to be annoyed by having to use a cumbersome Java scroller to see all the text in a field, much less waiting for it to load.


5) Website Readability

No line of text should be more than about 600 pixels wide.

The reason that newspapers and magazines are printed in columns is to make the lines short, so after you read one line, it's easy to find the start of next one. The page you're reading now shows one approach to making line length manageable: put the text in a fixed-width table in the center of the page. Here's an example of a Bad Page with no limits on line length.


Example of a Bad Page

Here's an example of a Good Page, with sidebars to the left and right of the content.

Don't make your page too wide.

Most users have 1024x768 monitors, so pages should be completely visible at 1000 pixels wide without horizontal scrolling.

Use contrasting colors or simple backgrounds to make your text easy to read.

It's hard to read light text on a light background, or dark text on a dark background.

You should almost never put text on an image or textured background. Such text is usually difficult or annoying to read -- if not impossible.

Make the text large enough to read.

A good rule is to go for 12 or 13px Arial, and 11 or 12px Verdana.

Increase the line spacing (leading) to improve readability.

Putting some space after each line gives it some breathing room and makes it a lot easier to read.

Don't type more than a few words in ALL CAPS.

Words that are in ALL CAPS draw attention to themselves because they seem different from the small letters around them. But if you type everything in all caps, then you completely lose the effect, since everything looks the same, so none of it looks important. If you want to draw readers' attention to something, make the headline stand out -- bold, bright color, maybe a little larger -- but keep the text that follows it normal.

Never use more than one exclamation point!

Typing several exclamation points does not make your text seem any more important than just one. In fact, rather than conveying urgency, what multiple exclamation marks really does is to create is an "Amateur" feel.

Use a spelling checker.

Some people who spell poorly may not notice or care that your site is badly misspelled, but literate people may notice and care, and they're in the majority. And wrong spellings also makes a website look “Amateur” as well as less credible.

6) The Right & Wrong Way of using Links

Don't underline words if they're not links.

On the web, something that's underlined is supposed to be a link. If you underline gratuitously, readers will be annoyed when they try to click those underlined words only to discover that they're not really links. If you want to emphasize something, use italics instead (or boldface, or another color).

Make links blue or underlined, or both.

Users expect links in body copy to be blue and underlined, because that's the way they appear on 99% of other websites. If you use a different color then at least the underline is a clue that a link is a link. Likewise, if you remove the underline but keep the link blue, then the color is the clue that a link is a link. So it's best to use both blue and underlined, but using at least one or the other is acceptable.

Explain what you're linking to.

When you're able to provide more information about what a link points to, do so. For example, if your site has a Links page, include a short description of each site you link to, say 1-5 sentences. That way visitors have an idea of what's on those sites, which will help them make their decision on whether to visit those sites, and help them find what they're looking for, while avoiding what they're not looking for.

Don't open internal links in a new window.

Opening new windows for external links to other sites is fine, but links within a site should always open in the same window. Visitors can still get around your site just fine when links open in the same window, if you had included a good navigation menu at the top or the left of the page as mentioned in the previous tips? The disadvantages of opening new windows means that after five clicks within your site, your visitor's screen is cluttered with six different windows.

Use descriptive link text.

The text of a link should describe what's being linked to. You should never, ever use words like "link" or "here" or "click here" as the link text. Readers prefer to scan web pages rather than read every word, and you make that impossible if you use generic, non-descriptive words as the link text. Compare the following:

Right way

Check out our product specials, best sellers and gift ideas.

Wrong way

For product specials click here. For best sellers click here. For gift ideas click here.


7) Test your Links

Test your links.

Make sure your site works! Load your site in a browser from the Internet (not from your hard disk), make sure all the images appear correctly, and click on all the links.

8) Make Contact Info Accessible

Put your contact info, or a link to it, on the top and/or bottom of every page.

Don't waste your readers' time by making them hunt around your site for how to contact you. Make your contact info easy to get to. Put your contact info (or a link to it), on the top of every page.

9) Use Original Content

Don't steal content.

It's not acceptable to copy text from another site and place it on your own, unless you get permission from the site owner. It's not legal to do so, either. Another disadvantage of copying content also causes search engines to make your page or site rank a whole lot lower.