What’s the one thing people can do to make their website better? Now that is a good question. One with many right answers, like improving performance, taking care of accessibility, and upgrading user experience as prime examples. These are all great tips, and there’s more like them, but how do you choose just one? And, should you choose just one?
If we knew what “better” meant, then maybe it would be easier. Does it mean faster? Prettier? The answer isn’t clear. A developer who maintains a legacy codebase will tell you that a “better website” is one with clean and readable code (and they’d be right).
Better, then, is a subjective term. I started looking at this question from my own subjective point of view. I’ve built a lot of sites in my time, and I know enough do’s and don’ts, but I’m not really an “expert” in anything.
But what I do know—what I’m sure about—is that websites nowadays have to stop being patterned, themed, and framed. Not that patterns, themes, and frames aren’t good, but when we heavily rely on them, we wind up with the same site over and over again, only with (slightly) different content.
So if I have to recommend only one thing you can do to make your site better, it is…
Whether it’s a portfolio website, a blog, or an eCommerce site, you want to stand out. You want people to remember you, to be excited about your product, and interact with your content. You can’t just give them the same experience they’ve already had thousands of times before.
So be unique, be original, be impressive.
Your website is you—it’s your product, your company, your livelihood. You don’t have to accept the generic conventions, and shouldn’t stick your dream website into a box that someone else built.
Start clean, build up, and don’t be afraid to test weird features. Play around with layouts, colors, and fonts, but also try to change the copy—like using different tones, adding humor, perhaps some sarcasm—whatever fits you. Try new things, listen to your gut feeling, and then take a deep breath and disregard criticism.
And of course, your website should still be accessible with good performance and everything else. I’m not saying that one is more important that the other (at least it shouldn’t be!), but if you get creative, it would also represent the most important thing: You.
And just a little tip to finish with:
When you love what you do, and are excited to do it, it shows. It will be reflected in the content, and your audience will love it and get excited along with you.