For a long time, having an internet presence had more to do with image. Many businesses put up their website just for the sake of having one and they did it using the cheapest and fastest way possible. While most businesses have come to appreciate the importance of professional online presence, more often than not, their websites are falling far short of their potential. 

So what makes a good website? Well... web design, in its broadest sense, is a term for several services which culminate with the result of a web site. Building a website is actually relatively easy—almost anybody can do it... But making a outstanding one, one that allures your visitors to dig further and interact with your site, eventually leading to a sale or contact, is much more than that. Three key ingreedients that make a good website are: usability, good content, objective based design and search engine optimization. 

1. Usability

First and foremost, users want speed, utility, and credibility—not portals, banners, goofy adverts, or even community. The best type of website informs customers what each webpage is about and then gets them to the next page. And performance is the overriding criterion.

The primary components that play a role in usability are structure, pictures, terms, and navigation. It must be obvious visually how and where a visitor is to progress through your site to find the content they actually need. If it is not then you are missing a prospective customer or order. When designing a web page, these components must all be taken into consideration. Sadly, in the world of commercial web design a lot of designers forget that they are creating stuff for an audience, and they must cater to logic and usability.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

2. Content

Website design starts and ends with content. Moreover, website design and content are not mutually exclusive. A website needs content because it’s what people are looking for. Regardless of the purpose of your website, be it personal or business, you want to provide relevant content for visitors. Relevant content gives your visitors a reason to stick around and keep browsing the site.

An crucial thing to keep in mind when planning the material for a website is that people don't invest much time on any one page. In order to feel that they're achieving something, they have to keep going. It's a proven fact that only 16% of Web users actually read word by word. That being said, on any given topic, you should write about half as many words for the web as you would for the printed material. Also, value of the visuals (photos, illustrations, maps, videos etc.) can not be over-stated. A well-chosen image or representation will make your message more powerful.

3. Objective Based Web Design

Art and graphic design are not distinguished by commercialism but by objectives. The artist creates purely for personal expression. The designer creates to communicate a specific concept to a specific audience. A lot of designers in the commercial space see websites as as creative outlets and experimental spaces and forget take into account what their client wants to achieve in terms of customer involvement, sales and performance... Depending on your industry, your website will require different features. From email capture, workshop or appointment booking, image galleries, to e-commerce and call to action.

It is the greatest area of opportunity for business growth and it’s incredible how subtle, functional changes can make remarkable effect. For example, consider the most typical “Get a Quote” button used on a small business website. If the button is not prominently displayed, it could decrease amount of inquiries. A remedy could be as simple as modifying the button by changing the color to more bolder one, for example orange or red, or increasing its size. E-commerce sites, for instance, or real estate listing services, would want to have a significant percentage of searchable content. 

4. Search Engine Optimization

You need people to be able to reach your website easily, so functionality also extends to search. While graphic treatments can enhance a site visually, they also restrict its exposure to search engines. The basic HTML on a website enables it to be indexed by search engine crawlers. The web page has to have enough live content, tags and hyperlinks that it can be grabbed by Google and other search engines in order to be found. This process is called Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short), and is becoming increasingly important as more business and product research is conducted online. SEO too includes a wide range of techniques that are intended not only to help search engines and customers discover your website, but also to increase your position among major search engines.

Conclusion

It is not just how a web page looks—it’s how users interact and have a relationship with it. Your website needs to be more than just a pretty face; it needs to roar with functionality and opportunities for clients to take action. It is important to have a balance of both, proportionate to the marketing goals of the your business. These certainly are not the only components to an excellent website, but you can never have a good website without them.