It seems to me that many of you who are new to building websites are having trouble figuring out exactly what makes difference between a website that's effective and one that doesn't produce results. For example, I recently received this from a reader of my e-zine, Marvin Baerg:
> This is a suggestion for an inclusion of an article on site > design tips. It would be great if you could give some URL's of > "excellently" designed sites with reasons WHY they are > superior, in order to give a model to those of us who are still > amateurs at web design . Maybe also a not-so-good-one, > but then again, that may be construed as slander.
I told Marvin that was a great idea, and that I'd love to do an article like that-and that's what this article is. However, instead of focusing on sites themselves, I'm going to focus on aspects of sites that make them so great. So, let's begin.
First, there are always *five core elements to a successful website*: global navigation, clean and attractive design, effective sales copy, appropriate text formatting, and value to visitor. Let's explore each of these in more detail:
(Please note that with each element I explain, I may give an example of a good site and possibly a bad site. In no way are these examples meant to be an insult to site owners or reflect upon quality of their products. I'm simply pointing out what is, in my opinion, good design and bad design.)
1. Global Navigation - It's absolutely vital that your visitors be able to quickly and easily navigate your site and find what they need. In order to provide for this, a site must have a navigation system that will allow them to reach main sections of site immediately, and it must always be available and recognizable to visitor.
o Good Example: www.sybren.net. I'm probably a little biased here as this is my site, but really, note that no matter what selection you make or what part of site you're in, you can always get to "main" parts of site with one click.
o Bad Example: www.magic-city.net. Note that as you move through this site, you have to constantly return to home page in order to navigate to other pages.
2. Clean and Attractive Design - A site that reflects a professional appearance is essential. While it's not absolutely vital that your site be designed by a professional, keeping it organized and free of clutter is imperative. To do so, make a logical outline of how you think your site's pages should be organized and then build (or rebuild) site around that outline. Also, remove anything from your site that isn't generating results for you. It's just making your site cluttered. Further, spend some time in your graphics program to learn how to create attractive graphics for your website.