1. Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is the first step and having a clear idea of who they are is vital to the final outcome. The target audience should be considered before the design stage has begun, as it will influence the design massively. It also applies to content writing, what you write and the style of it is important to keep users interested. If it is a functional website such as an e-commerce site, it can be beneficial to keep content to a minimum making it easier for the user to see the facts.
2. Measurable Goals
Setting clear measurable goals at the outset means you are able to gauge success. This could be a certain percentage increase in sales, the number of site visitors or any other relevant statistics. There are many tracking tools out there that can give you a great insight into how your website is performing, Google Analytics is one of the most popular and I would recommend it.
3. User Experience
This is all about how easy it is for the user to browse the website and achieve their goals. A good user experience also encourages those without a clear goal to be interested in what you are offering, and they are more likely to return to the site. Users can be discouraged if they feel like they cannot easily achieve their goals. Retaining their attention is important anything to discourage them may result in them navigating away from the site.
4. Responsive Design
This is a necessity for any modern world-class website and needs to be considered at the design stage. Designing and building for desktop first and then optimising for mobile can cause issues and may lead to compromises. Mobile design should be a priority when creating a website. Having a responsive website means you are discouraging a large portion of users from viewing your site. Figure 1 (BroadbandSearch.net, 2019) shows that over half of worldwide traffic in 2018 was mobile users and this does not even include tablets! It also shows that the proportion of mobile internet users is likely to increase in the years to come:
5. Aesthetically Pleasing
The look of your website is a big factor in user retention and influences their interest levels. A confusing looking website is likely to cause users to navigate away. If the website is selling a product it will encourage the user to buy the product and it increases trust between the seller and user. From my experience, if I am looking at buying a product and feel like the website has not clearly defined its customer journey, I am less likely to trust the seller. I believe most people are the same, even if they don't realise it they are subconsciously being influenced by the look of the website.
6. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
This is very important for any business. SEO is all about making your website appear high up on the search engine results. It is simple if people can find your website easily then you are more likely to generate interest and customers. Content management systems are software platforms used to create websites. Most of these like Wordpress and Modx have plugins to help with SEO but it is an in-depth area that requires expertise to Excel in. This is an area that is worth investing in even for small businesses.
7. Easy Content Management
The website needs to be easy to edit and add content. There should be no excuse with this, as there are many intuitive content management systems (CMS) which with little training or research allow anyone to update or add content. Developers should only need to be consulted if there is a new functionality or feature that is required. It is becoming increasingly hard to justify not using one as they are continually improving. It also means less cost and saves time for the business as they do not need to rely on a developer for content updates and additions.
The site needs to be scalable to allow for additional content. You never know if in the future a completely new section or a lot of new pages may be needed, so the website needs to be able to cope with this and maintain its performance. Additional pages should not slow the site down or cause any issues. This is especially important for e-commerce sites as it is likely that new products will need to be added.
Accessibility is important as it means your website is inclusive. It should be accessible and usable by people with disabilities. There should be no accessibility barriers.