What Makes a Successful Website?

How many of us have visited a “bad” website? What separates a “bad” website from a successful one? Since we are a technology-driven culture, we rely on websites for various reasons, including shopping, news and entertainment. Some of the characteristics that can define a site as “bad” or “good” are usability, credibility and attractiveness.

The usability of a site greatly influences its success. The website should have easy-to-use menus that are organized logically. When visiting a site, we usually have a predefined purpose in mind. We expect to be able to find what we are looking for quickly and easily.

A site’s credibility should be considered as well. We should look to make sure the information given within the site is up-to-date, and any sources cited are reliable and well-reputed. An easy way to check for the site’s credibility is to verify its security. If the website is asking for personal information, at the top of the page in the address bar the website address should be preceded by “https” instead of “http” if it is secure. In addition, the most secure websites will have a padlock image in the address bar and “https” will be displayed in green font. An example of a secure site would be Amazon (while signed in to your account).

Perhaps the most easily identifiable trait is the attractiveness of the site. The font of the site should be easy to read and consistent throughout. Two categories of fonts are serif fonts and sans serif fonts. Serif fonts have strokes at the end of the letters. Examples of serif fonts include Times New Roman and Garamond. Sans serif fonts are clean characters without strokes. Examples of sans serif fonts are Arial and Verdana. The color of the font greatly affects its readability. For example, a bright or flashy font will be more difficult to read than a black or solid-colored font. Any graphics used within the site should be relevant to the material. Graphics should not distract the reader from the written material. If too many graphics are on one site, the images may take longer to download, decreasing the usability of the site. Finally, the layout of the site should be well-organized, logical and clean. The material should be organized in such a way to draw the eye to the most important parts of the site.

To illustrate the points I made above, I have chosen two websites, one of which I think is successful and the other one I would call “bad”. The links are:


You can compare and contrast the two websites according to usability and attractiveness. Notice the clean and easy-to-read font of joust.co.  The user can easily find the information he is looking for in the site’s menu. Yvette’s page does not use consistent font sizes or colors, making the text difficult to read. Graphics are used that are not relevant to Yvette’s bridal/formal theme.

In conclusion, a business’ website could either bolster its reputation or weaken potential customers’ perceptions. Careful thought, planning and a bit of creativity can go a long way in building a website. Usability, credibility and attractiveness are just three main points to keep in mind while developing a successful site.

By Kimberly Riche, Business/Marketing major, IUPUC