Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / February 13th, 2008

What Makes a Good Web Site? Answers from the LinkedIn Community

A few weeks back I decided to try out LinkedIn.com’s Q&A section.  It’s a place where people can post a question about any aspect of business to get advice from colleagues and industry professionals.  Just for fun, I asked the simple question, “What makes a good Web site?”  Here’s what I got back:

What makes a good Web site? Being “in the business,” I think my views are skewed, so I want to know if it’s amazing design, interactivity, tons of content, or something else that makes you trust and use a Web site.

Erik Schmidt – Law Student / Web Business Consultant
You mention trust. I really think that’s the foundation of a good website, regardless of whether you’re going to conduct transactions, provide information, or facilitate social interactions between users. People have to feel comfortable with the site. They have to know that it’s above-board, that the people behind the site will take responsibility for it.

Respect the people who visit the site. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they would want to see. This is why creating user personas during site development can be valuable if properly used. When you can look through the eyes of your target audience, it becomes much easier to see what will work best for a given site.

For example, a site aimed at computer gamers will probably be heavier flashy graphics than one aimed at political junkies. The kind of content will vary accordingly as well. Short bursts of content that can be absorbed in a few seconds are good for time-sensitive information, while longer content is more important in situations where you’re trying to teach or persuade visitors. The amount and kind of audio and visual information you put on a given page will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.

There are some amazing sites with visually unimpressive design that I nonetheless use regularly because the content or capabilities of the site are very important to me. But I can’t say that I’ve ever stuck with a site that had excellent visual design and no content or capabilities to back it up.

In my ideal world, every client seeking web development services would read Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think.”

Links: http://www.sensible.com/buythebook.html

Matt Genovese – Social network builder in Austin, Texas; Hardware verification engineer, software consultant.
It’s functional, intuitive (use), and fills a specific need.

James Bore – Network Technician at Fullbrook
Suitability for purpose. Loading a simple news site with interactive flash animations and lots of content when all people are looking for is a few interesting news stories and maybe some pictures is bad design.

Equally though having a site aimed at education children through various different media would be much better designed with the extra content, interactivity, and so on.

Unfortunately the answer does vary, and does depend on the purpose of the website. I tend to favour simpler websites over more complex ones however, since I find it easier to find the content I am looking for when it is not completely drowned.

Mark Ernest – Florida Certified General Contractor; Developer; Entrepreneur
It needs to be simple to understand.

Kin Lane – Web Application Developer and Social Media Consultant
Take some time to write down the top 10 web sites you like and visit. Write down what you like about each….and maybe what you don’t like.

What makes a good web site really depends on your offerings and who your target audience is.

Merle Classen – IT Engineer at Argosy Console
When I use websites for business I find myself soon leaving sites that are ‘boilerplate’ with ‘jumping frogs’ and bright yellow lines. To me, whether it’s true or not, a website reflects some of the values of a business. If little time and effort is spent on a website how much time and effort will be spent with me as a customer?

I’ll spend time on a complex website if, in the end, I accomplish what I set out to do. I usually find myself a little frustrated on Dell’s website, yet that’s the one that I can configure a computer just like I want, enter a credit card, hit accept, and get my computer in a few days!

I was on a website just a few days ago that had numerous, obvious spelling errors. I soon left.

Make them professional!

Juergen Ammon – eGov, Business & Sales (CRM) Consulting, Business Process Redesign, Marketing.
The most important thing for me is the benefit of a web site.

If there is no value for me using a web site, it is just a waste of time. Well, maybe there are some web sites there which are supposed to be …art!

Jerry Edwards – Internet/Inside Sales & Business Development
One that does what you want it to do – generate leads that convert into sales – while also doing what the customer wants it to do – help them buy.

Wouter Broekman – Owner / webdesigner at pyramedia, information analist at DZH, musician/songwriter
Hi Peter,

To me, the question can be easily answered after “abstracting it”… I think the value of a website depends on the same factors any product shares.. so the answers will be the same for a website, a magazine, a car, etc:
1. Value. What does the product do for me, what need does it fulfill?
2. Availability. Is the product available where, when and how I need it? So can I buy the magazine in the market when I’m buying bread, and can I visit the website after searching in Google, but also on my smartphone?
3. Usability. Is the product easy, fun to use? Do I enjoy using it? This depends on many factors, specific per product, but a website shares some with -say- magazines: readability, humor, correctness, lay-out, photographs, etc;
4. Values: Do I share (some of) the business/human values of the producer/publisher/creator of the product? Do I feel a “click”?

Just my 2 cents, would be interested to hear what other people think about this.

Brandon Richards – Creative, Technical, and Dependable
Informative, well-written, simple, organic – content. Design and interaction are creative adjectives supporting your content. Usability has its importance, but good fresh content keeps users coming back.

Links: http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/Excerpt/0,7211,39495,00.html

Hugo Bonacci – Web/Application Programmer at First Technology Services
One thing to keep in mind is that people don’t typically come to a business site to browse or look around. They come with a specific question in mind.

Make it easy to find their answer without having to browse and dig down for it (FAQs, links targeting common questions, etc).
 

Doug Hering – Creative and Fun Strategic Leader with expertise in financial management, customer service, and inspiring teams
It has to meet my expectations for the product or service that I’m buying or researching.

Not too text heavy Enough information to make a good decision (so this is relative to what you are selling) KEY – easy to navigate, buttons, labels go to where they say they will go Always a way to get back to the home page no matter how deep into the site you are design functional rather than flashy I go back over and over to the same web sites because they are “comfortable.” I suppose that includes well laid out, not too crowded
, not to crazy I also like lots of options and sorting capabilities for the search features. I also like it when what I search for actually comes up in the search.
 

Ajay Jain – Senior Journalist, Pro Blogger & Author – ‘Let’s Connect: Using LinkedIn to get ahead at work’
Simple look and feel, no graphics and images running all over the place.
– Easy to read fonts
– Easy to navigate and search
– Relevancy of information provided
– One click interactivity (if the nature of the site allows) and easy to subscribe features
– A section to talk about recent updates on the site so one knows instantly what’s changed Cheers….

Ajay Jain Journalist/Blogger Author: ‘Let’s Connect: Using LinkedIn to get ahead at work’ (Read about it at www.techgazing.com/linkedin)

www.TechGazing.com Links: http://www.techgazing.com/linkedin/

Steve Baty – Principal Consultant at Meld Consulting: experience strategy, architecture & design
Peter,

In order to answer that question in a meaningful way you really need to define the audience & their context of use: their activity or goal. In the absence of those parameters, any or all of the elements you’ve mentioned might be ‘the thing’ that makes a web site good.

Usually, however, the quality of a Web site is judged more by abstract concepts such as utility, relevance, usability, availability, credibility &etc, rather than the volume of content, or the level of interactivity. These more abstract concepts contribute, in broad terms, to the overall experience for the visitor, and it’s the quality of that experience which acts as the measure of the site.

Now, other forces will conspire to make a site with a poor experience commercially successful, and one with a great experience a financial disaster. This typically relies on the quality of the product or service on offer from the site, not so much a characteristic of the site itself. So Amazon and ebay aren’t necessarily ‘good Web sites’ in the context of your question, even though they’re undeniably successful.

I hope that helps

Steve
 


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