A good or bad website is generally determined by 3 main factors: Design, Usability, and Search Engine Friendliness. All three of these factors must be done correctly in order for your site to attract and retain visitors, and to rank with search engines.
How Do You Know if Your Website is Designed Properly?
Look at your website. Have your friends and family take a look as well, ideally using different browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome), different screen sizes and resolutions, and different devices (desktop, tablet, phablet, phone, iPhone, Droid, etc.)
- Do the colors work together, or do they clash or are too bright? Is it hard to read the text against the background?
- Does the design make sense for your type of business (for instance, a pink color scheme and flowers may not work for a construction company, or a plain corporate looking site with a navy and grey color scheme wouldn't work for a children's nursery school).
- Does the background image contain a lot of clutter or elements that hurt your eyes or make it difficult to view the website's content?
- Is the typestyle very small, or in a format such as script that makes it hard to read? Tiny type often means that the website is outdated, which means there are probably other age-related issues as well (see my article entitled, "Is Your Website Outdated?").
- Is your phone number prominently displayed at the top of every page of the site, and is it easy to read?
- Is the navigation menu prominently displayed at the top of every page of the site, and is it easy to read? There are some designs in which a menu at the left side of the page may work, but this is often the exception. Either way, the menu must be immediately easy to find.
- Is the content organized, or are there blocks of text and images placed haphazardly throughout the page?
- Are there so many attention-grabbing elements on the page (such as animated gifs, moving text, pop-ups, multiple navigational menus, many different text styles and colors, etc.) that the user has trouble focusing on one particular element or figuring out what to click?
How Do You Know if Your Website is Usable?
Again, have your friends and family test the site in different browsers, screen resolutions, and devices. Elements that work in one browser may be broken in another browser.
- Can you quickly and easily find the information you're looking for in 3 or less clicks? Users want a "quick fix", and if they have to click all over your site to find what they want, they will move on.
- Does your navigation menu use "hover" elements such as drop-downs and fly-outs? In other words, when you hover over a menu item, does a sub-menu appear? Be aware that hover elements can work differently in different browsers. Most importantly, they often don't work at all on smart devices (how do you "hover" using a smart phone, when the navigation device is your finger instead of a mouse?).
- Do all your links work? One broken link (a link that leads to an error or a non-existent page) can be enough to make the user leave the site.
- Is the text on the site grammatically correct and spelled correctly?
If your website suffers from these design and usability flaws, it should be corrected or updated. Sometimes these issues can simply be repaired if there are only a few of them. But if there are lot of design and usability issues, especially if the website is more than a few years old, it may be best to simply create a new website.