Websites depend on several factors to be successful. Design, search engine optimization and viewer usability are the mainstays of any website. Users of the Homestead sitebuilder software need to be aware of these and design sites accordingly.
You can create a gorgeous website and fail, you can create a gaudy, but well-optimized site and fail, you can create a blah, unoptimized but fairly useable site and fail. Granted there are degrees of failure and success among any of the above, but to be more certain of success than failure you need to incorporate all three elements into a site.
- Asthetics are very important. If a site has eye-appeal a visitor may stay long enough to find out if it also contains the information they need. Creating sites that are simplistic, uncluttered, yet attractive is an important step in site design. But this alone will not ensure that the site will ever find its place in the Internet ‘sun’.
- Usability is paramount when designing a website. If you create a site that visitors have a difficult time navigating or finding the information or product they were seeking you haven’t done your job. The journey through a site should be as easy for your viewer as possible. This means consistent navigation, making the purpose of your site readily apparent, providing good content and not making your visitors work at finding what they need, because they won’t.
- Search engine optimization, without it you might as well pack up and go home. Search engines rely on textual information in order to index a site. Image based sites can often find themselves at the bottom of the pile. Using alt text on images supplies the SE’s with information and also gives viewers who use assistive technology or those who view pages in text only an idea of what an image represents. But this isn’t going to be enough to satisfy either the viewer or the search engine. Content, content, content. Meaningful information written for the viewer will satisfy both your visitors and the search engines.
Requests for site reviews in the Homestead Connection Forum show us time and again that webmasters aren’t providing adequate information for either type of visitor – human or search bot – particularly on the Home page. This page is the heart of a website and needs to be presented in a manner that is going to capture the interest of the viewer within 10 seconds. Webmasters often fall prey to clip art mania, using every cutesy, spinning, whirling, graphic available. That isn’t what a viewer is there to see, nor will it help grab their interest – often the opposite is true. They want to know what you offer, how it will help them, what makes your product or service better, different, more helpful, than the million other sites out there offering the same product or service. They really aren’t interested in how clever you are at finding clip art or creating Flash-based pages.
Does pretty matter? Yes, but to be successful your site needs to incorporate all the three elements; good design, usability and search engine optimization.