What makes a good website?

What makes a good website is not much different than asking what makes a good painting or football game or cup. They all have to be in some way visually and/or aesthetically appealing. A good apple would not be ridden with dents, marks and worms; just like a good pair of shoes couldn’t be littered with holes, dirt and tears. As with a good website or blog, a great deal of what makes it appealing is good writing. If a website, like a book, was filled with typos or confusing writing/ graphics, the odds of that piece being considered good narrows greatly.

According to news journalist Brian Carroll, good writing needs to remain brief, precise, active, direct, consistent and aware. As a news journalist, his qualities for good writing seem to match his particular career path. The news has to be brief and precise so that viewers/readers get what’s important in the least amount of time. Furthermore, news writing has to be active and aware because “the news” is always changing. What’s important constantly changes and the public wants access to that information as soon as possible, especially in regards to online writing. Online writing and composing has to be especially appealing, since according to Carroll, it only takes the viewer three seconds to access whether a web page is interesting. Elements like credibility, transparency, readability and scan-ability in writing and content contribute to the success of a good website. For me, the easier and more organized the website is the better it is. Sites with complex and convoluted speech and navigation seem to make many users frustrated or can completely narrow the scope of audience, which is only helpful in some cases. Sites like Humans of New York  do a great a job of bringing an audience in with bold headings and use of other media, like pictures. Many times, information given in great amounts must be broken up to allow the reader to better focus on the material or prevent them from losing interest. Good websites can break up this information in a helpful way so that any particular information can be quickly and easily found or read. Wikipedia does a great job of organizing its information into subheadings and categories that are easily accessible which allows for easy navigation and ultimate success.

Although writing for a digital setting should be relatively brief and simple, that does not mean that the writing itself shouldn’t be good. Part of what makes a website visually pleasing is good writing and content. Authors Rosenwasser and Stephen believe that writing well requires more than appropriate syntax and correct grammar; it involves using writing a means to thinking and processing well. Therefore, what also makes a good website is its ability to get an audience to think and reflect on the content displayed, whether it’s food or the theory of evolution. Using the ideas of Rossenwasser and Stephen, if writing is supposed to be a method to thinking better, all elements in a good website like images, navigation, links etc. must also be thought- provoking. Sites like The Atlantic and many travel blogs do this very well. These multi-modal sites bring in many different elements of media to create a cohesive, thought-provoking topic. One that an audience is eager to contribute to and comment on.

Ultimately, I believe the best websites convey a topic with clear and concise language, many different types of media, easy to use tools and navigation and an unique tone or style. These websites create a responsive and informed audience interested in a range of topics which allows for a complex and rapidly changing social environment.

My favorite sites:

Jezebel– Has a pithy voice and relays media in a very relateable way.

courage 2 create– Creative writing blog without a condescending voice and a simple yet, attractive layout.

8 tracks– Music site that focuses on input from users and creates a community of listeners who hand-craft the music they listen to and share.