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From Good Sites to Great Sites:
More Characteristics of Great Equine Websites

Attractive Design

Attractiveness is so subjective, how can it even be evaluated?

It may be easier to define "attractiveness" by considering those features that are inherently unattractive. Some of these are enumerated in the "When Websites Go Bad" article. In general, layouts with "ransom note" font combinations, too many colors, and poor readability are not aesthetically pleasing.

Ultimately, I would define an attractive website as one which:

  • is clean and fresh;
  • has balance in proportions and color;
  • has high readability and usability;
  • has a "look and feel" appropriate to the content;
  • is readily viewable by the website's visitors; and
  • is designed with an understanding of the tastes and preferences of the typical visitor.

Notice I said the tastes and preferences of the typical visitor, as opposed to those of the website designer/developer or the website's owner. Other than presenting the image of your business, your website's design should have little to do with what you personally find attractive. Successful business websites are designed for the site's visitors.

Going along with attractiveness is consistency of design. All of the pages of a website should share design elements and flow in a continuum. The visitor should never wonder if they have been detoured to another website.

The engineering of the site affects attractiveness in another very important way. Different computers and browsers will show a site differently. Depending on the platform (Windows, Mac, etc.) and the resolution of the visitor's monitor, a site may look grand or it may look miniscule, fabulous or bloated. Great equine websites are engineered to display well cross-platform and cross-browser.

Speaking of web browsers, most people prefer a website design that expands to fit their browser window, as opposed to crunching up on one side of the screen or requiring them to scroll sideways. Good web developers take these issues into consideration and know how to use the right techniques to build "liquid websites," with design that flows to fill the browser window.

Intuitive Website Architecture

Website architecture is the structure of a website's development. It includes factors such as the site navigation, the hierarchy of web pages, and link structure, and interactive functionality. Great website architecture makes sites intuitive and easy for the visitor to use the website and find information.

Website navigation, how the visitor "moves" from one page to another on a website, strongly influences the visitor's satisfaction with a site. The easier it is for a visitor to find a link to the information they want and to get that information, the better. Most experts agree that website users should need no more than three mouse-clicks on a website to find the information they want.

Interactive features such as search options can enhance usability and make a website more satisfying to its visitors.

Great Content

Content is the information a website delivers, and content is the reason visitors come to a website. For most kinds of websites, pictures are often considered non-essential, and not as "content" which is taken to mean only words. But for most equine websites, the photographs (of the horses) convey as much information as do the words. For horse business sites, both written and graphical content is important.

Copy-writing for websites is different than writing for print. It is hard on the eyes to read long pages on a computer screen. Great web copy is concise and pithy, usefully descriptive but cutting straight to the point. Sentence structure is varied. Spelling and grammar are correct to promote the business' professionalism and so as not to detract from the message. Long web pages are broken into a series of smaller ones to speed loading time and prevent eye strain. The text is presented against a strongly contrasting background with adequate "white space" for ease of reading. Study after study confirm that people do not usually read on the Internet. Instead they "scan." Websites that are written specifically for visitors with attention to how they read are easier for website visitors to use and enjoy, and more likely to be considered "great."

Great equine websites have images that are readily viewable, of high quality, useful in communicating a message, and optimized to load quickly. Don't over-do the graphics, by using images that are extraneous or detract from your primary message.

These are but a few of the major factors which make a "good" website great, and not surprisingly many have to do with the design and construction of the website. A skilled equine web developer will make all of the difference in the world to the success of a horse business on the World Wide Web!

Page 1: Anatomy of a Great Equine Website
Page 2: More Characteristics of Great Equine Websites