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Elements of a Successful Website

Making your website a success isn’t as difficult as you may at first think. By making simple changes—one step at a time—you can create a website that attracts visitors, fosters engagement, and drives results.

In Elements of a Successful Website, consultant, developer, and technical-marketing specialist Matthew Edgar gives you an accessible and actionable approach to improving your website. Working off the principle that the key to a successful website is to keep evolving, Edgar provides you with five simple yet effective themes that even a small business can apply.

However, unlike other books of its type, Elements of a Successful Website doesn’t claim to have a miracle, one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, Edgar recognizes that each website is unique and encourages you to make the changes that resonate with your brand, letting the guidelines lead the way.

Ultimately, improving a website that achieves your goals is as easy as being open to experimentation. Just adjust one element, note what works (and what doesn’t), and keep improving until you see the desired results.


What Are The Five Elements of a Successful Website?

Elements of a Successful Website discusses five main principles that apply across all types of websites. In summary, those principles are:

  1. Simple and efficient to use. Websites that are designed in simpler ways, presenting only the essential options in a logical and straightforward manner will be easier to use so people will be more likely to use them. Simpler websites also tend to be more efficient to use, allowing people to convert more easily.
  2. Provide users with maximum control and freedom. Websites are more usable when people have the ability to choose their own path through the pages. Calls to action and navigation should offer guidance, but still allow people to make the experience their own.
  3. Main consistency & follow standards. Your website needs to be consistent within its own pages and also needs to follow global web standards. Websites that behave consistently will better match visitor expectations, which leads to more interactions, engagements, and conversions.
  4. Prevent errors, but allow recovery. You can prevent errors some errors from happening, but like it or not you need to accept that some errors will still occur. When errors do occur, give people an easy way to recover from those errors.
  5. Match real world conventions and expectations. Websites should be designed for real people (not robots or automated programs). As part of this, your website should use simpler language your visitors and audience uses, be organized to meet visitor expectations, and the website’s functionality should mirror the real-world (for instance, clicking a link or button triggers an action). This is also a general principle of usability: design and develop with real people in mind.



A Personal Note

Elements of a Successful Website reflects on the lessons I’ve learned from working with hundreds of clients in a wide range of different industries. The biggest lesson I’ve learned, and a central tenet of this book, is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every company and every website is unique. Given that, I don’t focus on absolute right or wrongs in this book or in my consulting work. Instead, my consulting work—and certainly this book—are designed to equip people who run websites with guidelines they can adjust and apply to best suit their own needs to find what is right for them.

The guidelines come down to five main themes. The book details each theme, going through the questions you need to ask while working on improving your website. Along with knowing what to change, you also need to know how to measure the results of the changes you’ve made.

It was a real pleasure planning, researching, and writing this book. It was a big undertaking, but one I’m excited to now have out in the world. I’d like to thank the many who helped along the way, including my business partner, Andrea Streff, and all of the clients I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years.

I hope you will read my book and, even more than that, I hope it can help you to make your website a success.