4 Things That Will Make Your Website Amazing
We all look at a lot of websites every day. To be honest, many of them are forgettable. They are not bad, but they are not great. You are not going to remember them a couple hours from now. But every once in a while you stumble across a website that just feels right. Something about it just elevates it to a class all of its own. What is it that makes some websites amazing and others just OK? In my experience, I have noticed a few factors that great websites consistently have that set them apart.
A mentor of mine once told me that the single biggest thing that makes a website pop is typography. In the early days of the web, the choices of fonts were limited and uninspired. Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, Verdana or (shudder) and Comic Sans were pretty much the only options that would work across different browsers and operating systems. These days we have web fonts which really open up the possibilities for using original, professional and high-quality fonts on our web pages.
Besides there being literally hundreds of fonts that are now available for use in web pages, there are also fonts that are specifically designed for display on monitors and at small sizes, such as those found on your smartphone.
However, great typography is about more than just cool fonts. Great websites pay attention to all the different variables such as line height and letter spacing, which are used to tweak text, making it less straining on the eye and easier to read. Setting the text content correctly and avoiding things like really long lines by using columns also goes a long way to enhancing the final product.
Simplicity and Whitespace
Great websites are very rarely cluttered websites. Like so many things in life, ‘less is more’ is a great mantra to live by in web design. It’s a challenge to reduce the amount of information on your website, but it is absolutely crucial to delivering the best experience to your website visitors. Too much information confuses. Try to strip down your website content to only the bare necessities. What does your potential client really want to know? Does an image or graphic help make things clearer, or is it just confusing or cluttering? Do I really need this off-shade of fuchsia or could I just use one of my brand’s colours?
Consider Apple, usually regarded as being leaders in design and their website. The information on the homepage consists of a large image and a headline, with some additional simple content boxes below that. By my count, there are less than 60 words on their homepage, excluding the navigation (and the additional slides on the banner, because we all know we won’t look at them). There is a lot they could say about the newest iPhone or iPad, but they choose to be very concise.
Another thing that can elevate a good website to amazing status is a thing I call subtle delights – things like small animations, transitions between pages, personalization, etc. The real trick is to not overdo them. When animations are subtle they can add a sense of polish and refinement to a website, but overdone, they are distracting, clunky and gimmicky. It should be hardly noticeable and in fact, most users will not notice it – that’s the point. Like salt, a little will elevate and enhance, but if you can taste it, you’ve gone too far.
One of my favourite examples is the Rolls-Royce Motors website. The menu opens smoothly and items fade in from the bottom. It gives a refined experience, on brand with one of the most luxurious cars in the world.
The last aspect of great websites, and the most important in my opinion, is the realization that great websites are never ‘done’. They are constantly being improved and updated. Creating a website in one shot never results in a great website. Unfortunately, that’s the way most websites are created. Typically you give a large sum of money to your website designer/developer, they give you a website and that’s it for a few years until you do it all over again.
There are too many unknowns and variables at the beginning of a website design project to really deliver an outstanding result. Great websites evolve from good websites. You learn things about your visitors, you try things, you gain understanding and you apply it to your website.
Instead of budgeting a large sum of money every few years to redesign and redevelop your website, budget a little each month for constant improvements. You’ll find your website won’t look dated four months after it’s developed, and in a few years time when you’d typically be gearing up for a redesign, you’ll have an amazing website that leverages years of knowledge and tweaks. And best of all, you’ll have people wondering what makes your website so damn amazing.