What makes for a great website design?


HD Moderator
Staff member
When a visitor finds your site, imagine it’s like your best friend knocking at the front door. You want them to come in, make themselves at home and stick around awhile. Great website design can make that happen. Whether you’re selling a product or service, or simply providing information, you want them to feel they’ve come to the right place.

In your experience, what makes for a great website design?


HD Community Advisor
Staff member
Great design can be subjective at times. Personally, I like to see pictures, then information. I don't think there is ever a reason not to have an image of some sort on every page of a site. It doesn't have to be a hero image either, but there should at least be some sort of image.

The next is information. I'm on the site for a specific reason. If I'm looking to book a house cleaning, then I need clean access to that BOOK button. House rentals are one that demands pictures and lots of them, but they don't all need to be in a single slider. Again, quick access to a contact form or TOUR type button is needed.

Speed is an absolute must. It doesn't matter what the site is about, speed is your friend.

Finally, mobile-friendly - again, depending on the business will depend on the mobile layout and whether or not there needs to be a phone number for quick dialing.

Live Chat is great on some technical sites, and it's a great sales tool, but if it's always offline, it does no good.

Clean lines, fast website, good use of color, easy navigation and a search field are my top picks!
I agree with the website speed, nobody likes a website that loads slow. I'd say on average if your website takes longer than 10 seconds to load, chances are the visitor will simply leave.


HD Community Advisor
Staff member
I agree with the website speed, nobody likes a website that loads slow. I'd say on average if your website takes longer than 10 seconds to load, chances are the visitor will simply leave.
3 seconds is the current recommended maximum speed by Google. Unless someone is being overly patient and really needs what you are selling or explaining, then 3 seconds is your maximum load time. - https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/v5/about

Ready for scary numbers?
Sites taking 5 seconds are faster than 25% of the web
Sites taking 3 seconds are faster than 50% of the web
Sites taking 1.7 seconds are faster than 75% of the web
Sites taking 0.8 seconds are faster than 94% of the web

Speed is crucial, especially with the new algorithm update coming out in June 2021. 3 seconds is your maximum target, and 1 second is the goal!


Staff member
I feel like what's making a great website design and what's making a great website can be two different questions that I would answer differently.

Since you are asking about the website design, I'd say my biggest thing about it is building it around a product/service you are selling. If I don't get what the site is about within 3 seconds, that's not a good design. Being heavy on graphics or going the minimalist route doesn't matter, as long as it fits and sells well.

Two suggestions:
  1. If you have it running, kill the pop-up banner that offers a discount for a first-time order or a newsletter sign up. I don't even know what your website is about yet, so seeing your 10% discount code on landing will only annoy me.
  2. Don't have your sales chat window jump out at me. It blocks the page I am looking at and makes me waste time looking for that close button. I am well aware of the chat icon in the corner of the page. If I decide to speak to anyone, I'll click on it myself.


HD Community Advisor
Staff member
The two items you mentioned @Artashes are things I've been saying for too long. Heck, I even found an article on our site from February 2012 (9 years ago) that was aimed at these two things directly :) https://www.bigredseo.com/how-to-piss-me-off-in-3-seconds/ (tried to break the link, but the forum keeps adding it back in)

Nothing groundbreaking in the article, just that they piss me off and that you're likely going to annoy your clients too :)


HD Community Advisor
Staff member
@bigredseo That link isn't working for me, but judging by its name I can't believe we both actually mention 3 seconds as a "piss off" timer. 😄
That might be my firewall filter setting in Cloudflare. It should allow US, CA and UK - but maybe it's off again. We were getting so many intrusion attempts I had to lock it down tighter (none were successful, but slowing down the page needlessly affects scores to google :) )

It's such an old article, that we have it de-indexed on Google, but you can view an old version using archive.org (along with our REALLY old website design) - https://web.archive.org/web/2014071...edseo.com:80/how-to-piss-me-off-in-3-seconds/

And yeah, I think 3 seconds is a good frustration measurement point ;) hehe
- One that converts well - :p

Some things like speed are universal, others like minimalism, certain design trends, and layouts are not and can be more specific to your region.

Where im from people are still very young on the internet. A website that gets to the point about their offerings converts better, can you do it, how much does it cost, what do people say about your service of the product.

Move up in our country to the capital where they're more advanced, people want to know brand stories, history, something bespoke.

It's all about the target market.

For me I can handle a bit of slowness (odd), BUT if you drop in with parallax backgrounds and animations, all over the show, websites that go left when I scroll down :D I leave. So I guess what makes me convert is a good clear service or product offering, so the content is really important to me. Testimonials or proofs are also really important to me. I think though that different people look for different things.
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