The Four Secrets to Every Successful Website

No. 1: Websites that are designed well

Good design is the simplest one that works.

–Albert Einstein

Users that come to the websites we create should have a purpose. A reason for being there. Just like you are here, reading this post right now. If users are coming for something, whatever it is, the website should be designed such that it is as easy as possible for them to quickly find what they’re looking for.

The most important consideration is organization. Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Harris Teeter — to name a few — spend massive amounts of time and money organizing. They lay out new floor plans, studying their user flow meticulously. They A-B test the arrangement of products on shelves, placing the higher profit items at eye-level and making further adjustments to design the optimal shopping experience.

Why do these multi-billion dollar companies focus so much of their energy on design?

They understand that customers — their “users” — will be frustrated, and those customers might leave. They might try to find the things they are looking for at a competitor’s store. Or worse — on the internet!

No. 2: Websites that showcase great UI/UX

UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reigns — UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse, and rope your cattle.

–Web Designer Depot

There’s something that reaches beyond textures, colors, imagery, a grid, organized content, etc. It’s called user experience. UX is a feeling. It’s the emotion you feel when doing or using something. And when whatever it is that you’re using works well, exactly as predicted, it feels natural. It’s a perfect fit. You immediately relate. And relating feels good.

In 1996, Starbucks revolutionized a market. At a time when any gas station and hotel lobby offered a cup of joe for a buck, Starbucks taught a brand new kind of customer to believe that specialty coffee drinks could cost $3, $4 and $5.

But why? Why would anyone pay five times the going rate for a marginally better product? Because of a great experience. Customers began buying into a feeling — a lifestyle choice — not a product. They bought into a brand. And they allowed it to dictate their life decisions. They woke up 10 minutes earlier for work just to have it. And they began putting Starbucks stickers on their most valuable assets: cars, laptops, I’ve even seen some pretty shoddy Starbucks tats. (Pro tip: never get a trend tattooed on your body for life. Your future self will thank me.)

No. 3: Websites that offer compelling content

The quality, visibility, and relevance of your content will be the most influential factor in determining the success or failure of your new site. Shouldn’t it be given some attention during the design process?

–Search Engine Watch

You’re bound to hear it if you haven’t been around advertisement for long… “Content is king.” Without something to talk about, without a beneficial service, without a story to tell the world, who cares?

But what makes good content?

There’s no short answer, unfortunately, so I’ll have to tackle that in a future blog.

No. 4: Websites that can be learned from

There are now some amazing tools in the marketplace that didn’t exist 20, 10 or even five years ago. Google Analytics (GA) hails as one of the most influential tools for running a successful website. Offering insights on user flow, demographics, response to paid advertisement and more, GA gives us as marketers a direct correlation between cause and effect.

Just as Walmart studies their customers’ moves from one section of the store to the other, as I mentioned before, we can also watch our users’ behaviors when interacting with our website. And we can make intelligent decisions based off of those insights.

These insights can justify why or why not to move, remove or create content. Post rationalization shouldn’t be the means, but sometimes a little reinforcement can talk your clients into sticking with the right choice.