What makes a great website

For most how-to articles, there’s a need to bring in examples from many different sources, but for this article, we need only to cite one source, the highly-anticipated online presence for the new novel by Eric Robert Morse, Monaco.

Though the site is primarily marketing for the book, it has everything: brilliant design, great use of technology, and ease of use. Those are the three features that make for great web design, all of which I will go over briefly.

A great website must follow basic design principles

full.jpgThere are myriad design principles that apply to any graphically-conveyed idea, but the most important are simplicity, order, and consistency. Monaconovel.com, though it’s packed with content, is very simple-looking. In fact, the simplicity belies all of the features that are going on. The site is generally divided into two sections: navigation and content, which have further divisions. But this simplicity is appealing (though subconscious) and aids in the next aspect, order. A great website must look like it was intentional and this means having order and hierarchy. Throughout monaconovel.com, there is a natural hierarchy with the title of the book maintaining importance over each aspect, then the title of the content, and so on. The last aspect of a great website is consistency. Monaconovel.com maintains consistency throughout and promotes its brand so that without seeing the name, you would know that each page belongs with each other. This is especially important to sites like these, which want to place the viewer in a specific locale—when you visit this site, you’re in one place in time—you’re in Monaco.

A great website utilizes technology

audio.jpgOne of the strongest assets of the Internet as a vehicle for advertising, social networking, or entertainment is technology. From video to database integration, great websites make the most of technology. Sure Bob’s two-page static website is a fine idea for a personal site that shows of Bob’s model train collection, but only a website with music, flash animation, and data collection can be considered great. Monaconovel.com has it all. When you visit, make sure to check out the playlist of ’30s big band music and Margaux’s Diary for samples of great uses of technology.

A great website must be easy to use

nav.jpgThey say that the average web surfer gives a site 8 seconds to impress before he or she clicks away to cyberspace—that’s not much time. If you’ve gotten this far in the article, we’ve managed to get past that threshold and it’s most likely because this site is easy to use. The content on a great site should be obvious, upfront, and easy to navigate to otherwise. Monaconovel.com again meets this high standard by allowing all of the content to be accessed at every page. No drill-downs are needed to present the content in an easy-to-access fashion and no pages are lost because the users can’t find them.

In conclusion, there are many aspects that make up a good website, but for a site to be great it must be designed well, utilize technology effectively, and be easy to use. If you have a great website, please tell us about it in the comments section. For a taste of a great website, take a trip to 1930s Monaco.

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