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So you’ve decided to hire a web designer for your business. That’s great! 

Perhaps you’ve been talking to some web designers, and looking at portfolios, seeing all the different features that they offer. 

But do you know what you should be looking for? What actually makes a “good” website, anyway? 

In this article, we go over 10 elements of high-quality websites that you should be looking for – and 3 red flags to stay away from! 

A good web designer or website design company will…

1. Make your site easy to navigate.

If you’ve ever been to a website that felt like a maze to get around, then you know how annoying it can be. (“Just let me see your list of services!” “Where is your contact page?!”)

Difficult navigation will be more than enough to make people leave your page prematurely. This increases your “bounce rate”, or the rate at which people leave your website without taking an action, such as clicking on links. 

Ease of navigation is also especially important if you cater to an audience demographic that is not particularly tech-savvy. 

A few simple ways to make a website easy to navigate are:

  • Having a main navigation menu that is easily accessible at all times.
  • Labelling pages and the links to them accurately.
  • Keeping the main menu uncluttered.
  • Keeping the menu structure consistent.
For this client website, our web designer made it so that the main menu stays visible at the top of the screen even as you scroll down the page.

2. Make sure it looks good on all devices. 

More people are viewing websites on their phones rather than on computer screens; as of 2024, about 60% of website traffic is mobile. This means the days of designing with the computer screen as a priority, and mobile screens as an afterthought, are over (or should be!)

Responsive web design – in other words, building sites that look good and work properly across different devices – not only directly affects your audiences’ client journeys, but also affects your search engine rankings. 

An easy way to check for web design responsiveness is to look at a website on your phone and ask the following questions: 

  • Do you have to do the “pinch-to-zoom” on any text or images because they’re too small to see otherwise? 
  • Do paragraphs fit within the screen width or do you have to scroll left and right to read?
  • Do you have to pan all around the page just to find menus and other navigation buttons? 
  • Do you have any trouble tapping on any links and have to try multiple times? 

3. Build your website so it loads quickly.

Another thing that can lead to a high bounce rate on your website is if it takes too long to even load. 

After all, it’s not just your audience’s limited attention span that’s working against your website, but also varying internet speeds. That’s why it’s best to optimise your website’s pages to load reasonably fast – ideally in under 4 seconds – even for slower connections. 

To keep your website loading at a reasonable speed: 

  • Optimise images by using compressed file formats, and not using images that are larger than necessary.
  • Avoid having too many images and videos on one page. 
  • Instead of uploading videos on your own web hosting service, consider hosting them or a content delivery network (CDN) or a streaming platform like YouTube, then embedding them on your page. 

4. Include clear calls-to-action.

A call-to-action (CTA) is a word or phrase that instructs your viewer on the next step you want them to take. Some examples of the actions you want your site visitors to perform are: 

  • Book an appointment 
  • Inquire through your contact page 
  • Sign up to your newsletter or mailing list 
  • Buy your product 
  • Download your guide/brochure

The key is to guide the viewer on what to do next after they’ve gleaned the information from that page, rather than just leaving. 

A page without a call-to-action is a missed opportunity to move the viewer along on their customer journey. Note that this doesn’t just apply to landing pages or product selling pages; even an informative article or blog can benefit from having a call to action in it. 

But take note: don’t cram too many of them onto one page – that would be confusing! Aim to have one clear, visible CTA on each page. 

5. Make it consistent with the rest of your branding.

Your website should fit in nicely with the rest of your brand materials

Even without looking at the logo or reading the brand name, your website should look like a part of a whole, along with your business cards, social media posts, flyers, or store graphics. This can be achieved through the consistent use of your brand’s colour palette, typography, and choice of images used. 

Just because someone can make a cool-looking website, doesn’t mean they can build the website that is right for your brand. A great web designer will understand the importance of, and be well-versed in, branding and visual identity, as well as the more technical aspects of website building.  

A good web designer will know that your web design shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of your brand materials.

6. Know how to use white space. 

White space, or negative space, is the part of the layout that is left empty (i.e., no text or graphics on it). This includes not only the space around the content, but also in between. 

A website with too little white space can look cluttered, and feel overwhelming and unappealing to spend time on. By contrast, skillful use of white space can make a webpage pleasant to look at, and allow visitors to take in information without feeling fatigued. 

The more information you want to present on a page, the more careful you need to be in ensuring there’s enough white space to let the visual elements “breathe”. 

7. Keep accessibility in mind. 

A good web designer will know the importance of accessibility, or how usable it is to those living with disabilities such as visual or hearing impairments. (This is especially important if your business belongs to certain niches, like healthcare.)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines has thorough recommendations on accessibility. But here are some easy ways to get started: 

  • Adding alt text to images so that it can be read aloud by screen reader software
  • Making sure there is enough contrast between the text and the background
  • Adding captions to videos 
  • Adding proper headings to different content sections

8. Optimise your site for SEO.

While a big part of SEO optimisation is the actual content of the site, which isn’t the web designer’s job, the design and structure of the site plays a key role too. 

Some good SEO practices for web design include:

  • A logical page hierarchy
  • Descriptive URLs 
  • Proper use of headings and subheadings
  • Internal linking (linking between different pages within your website)

9. Put a human face on your website. 

These days, anyone can put up a website and pretend to be a company… and in fact there are many unscrupulous people doing just that to scam others. 

How do you show people that you’re the real deal? One of the best ways is to make sure your website has faces on it  – yours, and your clients. 

Create a team page 

Have a page introducing yourself and your team so that people know who they’ll be doing business with. Shady organisations will be much less inclined to put their names out there. 

Use social proof 

If you have happy clients or customers, don’t hesitate to reach out to them and ask for testimonials or reviews. This can make a big impact on a viewer who is considering your business, and may be the thing that keeps them on board. 

10. Offer security features. 

Security is a top priority for any website. In your conversations with the web designer, make sure to ask about what security features and services they offer. 

Some basic ones include: 

  • Implementing SSL certificates to ensure secure connections.
  • Installing security plugins for blogs.
  • Regularly updating software and plugins.

3 Web Design Red Flags to Watch Out For

We’ve talked about what you want to have on your website; now here are a few things you’d want to avoid. 

1. Too many bells and whistles

A web designer or website design agency may try to lure you in with fancy features that they can put on your website, like animations, video backgrounds, and popup boxes.

That’s great to an extent, but make sure that’s not the focus when they’re planning your website. The information and messaging that you want to convey to your viewers should be the main thing. 

So while it’s nice if a visitor to your site goes “Oh, they have a cool website,” don’t forget that the main takeaway you want them to have is still “I’d like to do business with them.” 

Besides, too many unnecessary features can make your site slow-loading and unpleasant to navigate (see: points #1 and #2!)

2. Stuffing too many keywords onto a page. 

It’s important to have keywords on your pages, but only when and where they actually make sense in context. 

Stuffing too many keywords on a page – for the sake of having a lot of keywords on a page – is not a good practice. In fact, it’s a sign that the person or company doing it still subscribes to outdated and improper SEO practices – which these days can negatively affect your site’s ranking. 

3. A one-size-fits-all approach

As with most digital media, websites and web design have a tendency to follow trends. So websites from the same couple of years will tend to have similarities in how they look and function. 

Just make sure your branding and messaging isn’t being sacrificed in favour of following trends. For example, if your brand has a rustic, artisanal vibe, don’t feel like you need to have a sleek, minimalist website just because it’s what a lot of people are doing these days. 

A conversation with a good web designer or web design company will begin with getting to know your company’s brand, what you’re trying to convey, and the audience you want to reach. 

Need help with web design, SEO, and other aspects of your digital marketing efforts? Get in touch with us

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