Creating a website destined for success is challenging. It requires a lot of planning. Most importantly, it requires a good design and a detailed analysis. Conversely, a poorly designed website can hurt your business. It is therefore important to strike a perfect balance between your website’s conversion goal and creating a design that sells. So, what makes a good website design? There are certain essential elements that every website must have in order to please today’s tech-savvy Internet users. These include: 1. Simple Navigation Creating good website navigation is the most important task a web designer has to accomplish in the web designing process. Navigation on a website must be well constructed, easy to use and intuitive. Users want a few key things from navigation: knowledge of where they are on the site, a way to go back to the homepage, and directions (if your site has more complicated interface). Bad website navigation stops people from finding all the great content on your site. Worse, it may frustrate visitors and cause them to leave your website. On the other hand, good navigation results in a site that’s a pleasure to look at and is easy to use. 2. Good Visual Design Today, 89% of customers search the Web before making a purchase decision (Digital Influence Index 2012). In most of these cases, customers first check out a business’s website to know more about the company and its offerings. In a fraction of a second they form an opinion about your website and therefore your company. So it’s really important for your website to have a good and compelling design in order for the visitors to form a good first impression and continue to stay on your site. Design is an all-encompassing word for all the visual elements of your website — the logo, the fonts, the white space, the template, the layout and the colors. A consistent use of various visual design elements on different pages will make browsing your website easier for your visitors. Therefore, standards and conventions for different design elements should be established and applied throughout the website. 3. Search Engine Friendly While designing a website it’s important to build one that that can be easily indexed by search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) ensures a website better placement on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. If you are building a website to generate more leads and customers, it’s important you show up in these search engines. This is basically done by including relevant keywords in your content, having a fast loading website and integrating social media on your website. Including keywords in your title, meta-tags and within the body of your post will help search engines categorize your content more accurately and show your website to the users looking for that information. To know which keywords or tags to use, try WordTracker or Google Trends. As per reports, majority of people will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. When these visitors leave, they impact the business badly as chances are they won’t return. This establishes that the longer a website takes to load, the fewer the conversions that take place. Thus, it’s a non-negotiable requirement for a business website to load fast. Social media integrawebtion is a critical part of raising your website’s profile in search rankings. Social media has become the primary way people share information they find interesting. Make it easy for your visitors to share information they like on your site by incorporating share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other relevant social media platforms. Also, encourage your visitors to follow you on social platforms by adding social plugins to your website. 4. Credible A good website inspires trust in your visitors. Good website design takes this into consideration by incorporating items that help identify that you are a legitimate resource. You can do this by adding testimonials to your website, clearly stating your identity and contact information in your ‘About Us’ page, and by regularly publishing articles on your blog to display your expertise. A credible website can bring huge benefits to your business. 5. Cross Browser Compatibility Nowadays everyone is using a different browser. Your website is being viewed on Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, and a few other browsers. Despite the existence of Web standards, all these browsers work differently from each other, even if only slightly. Cross browser compatibility is therefore vital if you want to make sure your website can be viewed the same way across browsers. You could be losing out on sales if visitors can’t access some or all of the features of your website on their particular browser. 6. Mobile Friendly Browser compatibility is important but there’s more to the equation. The widespread use of smartphones and tablets to check Internet on the go means your website needs to be compatible with mobile devices too. Mobile traffic currently makes up 15% of global Internet traffic and this number is continually increasing as smartphones and tablets grow in popularity. It’s quite evident from this figure that if your website is not responsive across multiple devices, you’re going to miss out on a growing population of users. Ensure your website looks good on all devices and screen sizes. You can perform a simple test of your website’s mobile friendliness at Google’s GoMo site. 7. Call to Action The main purpose of a call-to-action feature is to get your visitors to do something, to take action. That action could be anything — downloading an e-book, to buying a product/service, signing up for a newsletter, or just requesting information. To ensure that your visitors take some action, call-to-action buttons need to be obvious and strong. Make these buttons clear, consistent and highly visible. The wording, color, size and placement of these buttons also matters a lot. Bottom line: While there are a lot of important components to effective website design, including these seven key elements in your design process will make a big difference. These elements can make or break your overall site design.