Back in 2009, the LK Domain Registry launched an initiative to recognize the best Sri Lankan website. This initiative, which had been held annually since its inception is the BestWeb awards.  While it is a noble initiative, we have to admit that we at ReadMe haven’t always agreed with the decisions of the judges of the BestWeb awards. But that’s all in the past. This year, ReadMe will be the Digital Media Partners of BestWeb 2017.

That’s why we want to ensure that everyone competing in these awards will bring decent websites to the fighting arena. So how do you build a decent website? Well, the answer to that question can span multiple articles. But here are some of the basic things that we believe every great website has mastered.

Being mobile friendly.

It’s 2017 and one of the most basic rules of building a great website is ensuring it looks great on mobile. This is due to the arrival of cheap smartphones, which are enabling, even more, people to be online. In fact, it’s expected that by 2020 we’ll see 2.6 billion people coming online through smartphones. Furthermore, 77% of all Google searches on mobile happen inside homes, where you’d typically find a PC.

BestWeb 2017
Your website needs to be responsive (Image credits: Brolik)

Additionally, Google also considers how mobile friendly your website is when ranking search results. This is why responsive design is so important. It’s simply not enough to ensure that your website looks great on a desktop.  Today, it’s imperative that your website looks great and is easy to use across any device. There are many tools online to help you check what your website looks like across many devices. Yet, there’s still no substitute for testing your website on actual devices. So if you want to win at BestWeb 2017, we recommend testing your website across actual devices.

Loads quickly

They say patience is a virtue, and on the internet, we learn that very few people have this virtue. According to Akamai, people expect an e-commerce website to load in 2 seconds. This is how long people are willing to wait if they are considering on spending money online. Google takes this rule even further and recommends websites load in under half a second.

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Your website needs to be fast (Image credits: Walmart)

A faster website not only increases user satisfaction but also increases conversions. In other words, a faster site means you can earn more money. And the opposite is very strong as well. For instance, Walmart found that if the loading time for a web page increased by a measly 1 second, it saw a massive reduction in successful sales. Whereas for when the loading time decreased by 1 second, there was a 2% increase in successful sales. Amazon too saw a 1% decrease in sales when it’s loading times increased by 100ms.

There are countless other stories out there as to why your website needs to be fast. So how can you go about building a faster website to win at BestWeb 2017? Typically, 80% – 90% of the factors affecting your response time is on the front-end. To identify exactly which factors are affecting your response time, you can conduct a waterfall test. If you want to conduct a waterfall test, head over to www.webpagetest.org.

Having a clear purpose

“Why are we building a website?” is a question few companies ask when building their website. And even when the question is asked the answer usually is, “Because everyone has one.” Your website is your greatest online asset. By not considering how it fits in with the bigger picture of your business, you are squandering it.

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A content purpose map helps you identify the purpose of your website (Image credits: American Express)

Every page of your website should serve the purpose for both your business and your customers. A good way to figure out the purpose of each page of your website would be to create a content purpose map. Once you’ve identified the purpose of each page, you’ve identified the message you want to give your visitors. Of course, it’s important to ensure that the message you are trying to convey is clearly communicated. When it comes to communication, our tools of choice are Grammarly and Hemmingway.

Looks great

This is probably obvious, but a great website actually looks great. A website that looks great easily stands out in the crowd. But what exactly makes a website look great? Well, that’s article on its own. But here’s a few things you can look at to get started and make your website look great before applying for BestWeb 2017.

Have a strong color palette

When it comes to influencing people, the importance of color cannot be underestimated. This is because every color has a meaning because it invokes a certain emotion. For example, red is associated with fire so it can represent warmth or danger. Whereas yellow is the color of sunshine, yellow often communicates happiness, cheerfulness, friendliness, and the freshness of spring.

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Careful use of color can help influence people (Image credits: Alexander Haniotis)

Color is a complex thing. But when it comes to design color plays a vital role. Because color has tremendous power when it comes to influencing people. Canva has a brilliant post here about the importance of color and the different emotions colors can invoke in us. As Buffer states, 90% of our assessment of a product is made on color alone.

This is why building a powerful color palette is important. But when building a color palette you need to ensure that it goes consistently with the rest of your brand. To understand how some of the world’s biggest brands use color, check out brandcolors.net.

Clear and powerful pictures

They say that a picture speaks a thousand words. We don’t know exactly who “they” are, but there is an undeniable truth in that statement. Pictures are powerful. If you want your website to look great, then you need great pictures. We know all too well about the challenges of finding great pictures.

Flickr is a place where you can find great images
Flickr is a place where you can find great images

Your best friend when it comes to hunting for images is Google. But some great sources for free stock photography include Flickr, 500px, and albumarium. Of course, there are many other sources out there. Just be sure to check the copyright license on the image you want.

Smooth animation

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Animation when done right can delight users (Image credits: Claudio Guglieri)

Animation is a complex beast to master on the web. But if you can master it then animation can give your website an edge and help it stand out in the crowd at BestWeb 2017. There’s a variety of ways as to how animations can help. But one of the main things is how it can help create smooth transitions that make changing screens less abrasive. Most importantly, animations can be used to delight visitors and impress them. And a visitor that’s delighted makes fewer mistakes navigating across your website.

Valuable content

BestWeb 2017
Your website needs to have valuable content

So you’ve made sure your site is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and looks great. Now you need content. Lots of valuable content that your visitors would love and serves the purpose of your website. Of course, creating great content isn’t exactly easy. It took us a while to figure out the formula. Nonetheless, your website needs great content that gives visitors a reason to return.  More importantly, a great website ensures that this content is easy to find.

This is merely a starting point

There you have it. Five tips from us to help you build a great website and snag an award at BestWeb 2017. However, do note that this is merely a starting point. Ultimately the tips we shared are the basics of what we feel makes a great website. Delve deeper into the art of building great websites and you’ll find there’s so much more to it.

So if you’re planning on participating in BestWeb 2017, the time to start polishing up your website is now. There are only a few more days until the deadline for applications closes. The clock is ticking. We wish everyone participating the best of luck and hope they bring great websites to the competition.

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