Tips for Effective Websites

By Linda Coutant

You have less than 5 seconds to engage visitors to your website. What’s going to hold their interest?

The most effective websites are:

  • Designed for the user
  • Responsive to mobile devices
  • Scannable
  • Concise
  • Engaging
Designed for the user – How to Organize Your Site

University Communications’ goal is to ensure Appalachian’s websites are designed for the user, not the host organization. Consider what visitors want to accomplish on your site… What tasks are they coming there to do? Focus on their needs. Think of how to best organize the content so they can quickly access information and complete those necessary tasks, such as applying to a program.

Responsive to mobile devices – How to Build Your Site

Mobile users outpaced desktop users in 2013. If you want your site visited, it must have responsive web design – meaning that the visual presence changes or “responds” to a fit a smaller screen.

Scannable – How to Present Your Content

Web readers scan first, then read further if they’re interested. So, website text should contain…

  • Easy-to-scan copy blocks
  • Short sentences – 5 to 10 words
  • Short paragraphs – 50 words or less; stand-alone sentences are OK; no paragraph should be more than 5 lines long
  • Subheads
  • Bullet points – 5-6 items; group with subheads if bullet lists becomes too long
Concise – How to Write
  • Be brief, clear, compelling and persuasive
  • Use personal language, such as “you” and “your”
  • Include strong calls to action
  • Include links for additional info – embedded or listed in a sidebar
  • Use numerals whenever possible instead of spelling out (10, 60, 100, etc)
Engaging – How to Combine What You Have Just Learned

Combine all the tips above and you’ll have a site that is more useful and easier to navigate. Further, consider what content your readers want to see and write to their interests.