The Big Three Elements Of A Successful Website
In the nearly 21 years we’ve been building websites, we’ve learned that there are really only three elements that are critical to a successful website. If all three of these elements are inherently part of the website, in some semblance of balance, the site will stand the best chance of success. The three elements are:
Credibility – Usability – Findability
Credibility is how the site looks when the visitor first sees it. Just like two people meeting each other for the first time, the first impression often sets the tone for how the relationship proceeds. A credible website provides a good first impression because it is designed for the target audience. Knowing the website’s audience(s) is inherent in the process of designing a successful website. That design MUST resonate with the target audience; it must engage them visually so that they don’t just turn around and go away. Typically, you only have a few seconds to connect with a website visitor, so you have to give it your best shot – not just on the home page, but on all other pages as well.
Usability is how the site works. Usability deals with making the website’s content and calls to action easy to find, and simple to use. It means making content current and relevant. Usability is built into the design of the website, but it is also very dependent on how the site is managed. A highly usable website is built on an easy to use content management system that makes it easy for non-technical users to make changes to the website.
Findability is how easy the website is to find. Having a beautiful, super usable website is pointless if people can’t find that website. Findability can be broken down into two sets of factors that impact how findable your website is: 1) onsite factors and 2) offsite factors. Onsite factors deal with the website itself – is it built using “search engine friendly” technologies? Can the site be updated easily so content can be managed, changed and updated? Is the site’s content relevant, properly structured and made accessible to search engines?
Off-site factors are everything else that can drive traffic to your website. They include links from other websites, linked ads on Facebook, search engine results, even traditional media like television, radio or print. Finding the right mix of onsite and offsite factors and channels can be a daunting task, but it can be done with experience and metrics. In the long run, findabilty can be the most expensive component of a successful website, but it’s perhaps the most important of the Big Three.