Building a website well requires attention to a wide variety of requirements, both obvious and not-quite-so-obvious. For a website to achieve its goal and to deliver what the site builder has in mind when they set out to build it, many things must be taken into consideration even before the first line of code is written. Learning how to design a website is the first step, but even in an environment where there are tools available to practically build a site automatically, practical considerations should be the priority.
1. The Meta-Network
It goes without saying websites are part of a network. The hyperlink itself is the innovation that made the web possible in the first place. But in today’s environment, where social networking is one of, if not the most important consideration when deciding how to position a website to attract an audience, the integration between site and social media is crucial.
Fortunately there are many ways a website can be integrated into social media and make it possible for site visitors to share and help promote products, services and articles to the wider Internet. Most web platforms provide facilities to include sharing buttons and social widgets and even social media sites themselves are likely to offer this service as well.
When the web started, bandwidth was always at a premium. Having a site filled to the edges with gigantic images wasn’t practical, since a large part of the audience didn’t have the network horses to download them. Now, with broadband Internet speeds the rule rather than the exception, it is possible to decorate a site with fairly high-resolution animation, graphics and illustrations and still keep the site fast enough so most of the audience can read it.
Some say knowing how to design a website depends on knowing how to design graphics. They are the key to make sure your site stands out on a web where everyone has colorful and attention-getting designs.
3. Software Compatibility
Thankfully, the browser wars are a thing of the past. That said, making sure your site is compatible with the popular web browsers in use (and making sure it works on all hardware platforms as well) is not only vitally important for your users but also for your site’s position in search results and its integration with other popular web platforms. This is something you can’t overlook.
4. Hardware Compatibility
Years ago, the PC was the only hardware platform that mattered when it came to websites and their audiences. Now, with hundreds of models of mobile phones, three popular mobile operating systems and iPads, Kindles and other tablets thrown into the mix, hardware compatibility is a bigger issue. If your site is commercially targeted, this becomes doubly important in light of the fact more than half of online purchases happen on a mobile device.
The good news is most quality web platforms automatically shift their design to match mobile devices and screen sizes if they detect a visit by a phone or tablet, so the extra work required has already been minimized. Testing is vital, however, so don’t automatically presume your site works on mobile. The alternative is to lose more than half your audience.
5. Content Management
If at all possible, website designers should at least consider using some kind of content management system or CMS. From a design standpoint, a CMS gives you maximum flexibility to not only make it easy to update the content of your site but also to change, update and optimize the design of the site. Because content management systems are designed to be easy to use and also to offer a one-size-fits-all template-based approach to design, they are very easy to manage for those who might not be as good at design as others.
CMS systems like WordPress also provide a way to integrate a blog or chronological update system into your site, which will put visitors at ease, given there are tens of millions of sites that use similar presentations.
6. Good Writing and Good Video
As most news sites demonstrate, the combination of quality writing, awesome content and video is a powerful one, and presented together, they can provide viewers and readers with a solid incentive to return. Video production is much easier in 2016 than it has ever been before, and if your articles and viewpoints are well written and well presented, adding even moderately attractive video to your site will dramatically increase your traffic and potential for revenue generation.
7. Server Side
Using the correct technologies on the client goes without saying. Using good technology server side will help as well. Most sites today are database driven, and if you are able to separate your data from your presentation, you can help make your site look much better than it otherwise might. Fortunately, server technology has advanced just as fast as the client, so finding ways to accomplish these things isn’t as difficult as it once was.
Building an attractive and successful website is easier than it has ever been. In fact, one might say it has never been easier to get a great looking site live and in front of your audience than it is in 2016. All you have to do is use what’s already available and you’re halfway there. The rest depends on your imagination!