There are millions of websites out there that just scrape by because they simply ‘do the job’. It doesn’t need to be this way – designing and exceptional website comes down to three key elements can easily be incorporated into any website. If you pay attention to these key elements, you will be on your way to designing a website that captivates audiences with a valuable and engaging user experience.

1. Content

Not just content, but good quality content is so important, yet so many small businesses ignore it. Yes, they put content on their site. But they don’t really think about it. Yet, it is ultimately the content that will make visitors stay and convert. Content is not just text, but music, sound, animation, or video – or any other elements that convey information. Creating good quality content takes planning. You need to know what you want to tell your visitors, create in a way that is engaging, relevant, and appropriate for the audience. Quality good content is also true to your brand. It should convey the voice and personality of your company so that visitors get a sense of who you are.

2. Form and Function

The design has several elements: structure and navigation, functionality, and visual look. These may feel like different things, but they all can be categorised under design. You can have the most engaging content on the Internet, but if your site is difficult to navigate and looks dated, your visitors will likely leave.

Structure and navigation is the framework-the organization of the content, the hierarchy of information, and the method in which you move through the site. Sites with good structure and navigation are consistent and intuitive. The best websites don’t make visitors think too hard about where things are and have logically organised information.

The functionality is what a website actually does, and how it does it. A great site loads quickly, it has live links and any functionality works as expected. Useful functionality adds value to the user experience by anticipating their needs and reason for visiting a website. Accessibility is a key factor when considering functionality, because how a service is delivered is dependent on the interface that the user interacts with. For example, a website that is used by retirement aged audiences should have large and easy to read text and call to actions.

Finally, design is about the visual look and feel. Your site must be about more than just a pretty homepage. And it doesn’t need to be cutting edge or trendy to be good. It’s more important to have a high-quality, user-centric design that is appropriate and relevant for the audience and the message it is supporting. You don’t want to sacrifice effectiveness for the sake of ‘wow factor’ that won’t convert into value for the visitor.

3. Interactivity

Many people think interactivity is just about having interactive design elements and buttons to click. But it is so much more than that. It’s about creating a conversation with the user. It’s about engagement. An interactive site may have a robust search capability, live chat for customer service, e-commerce functionality, notification agents, and real time video or social feeds for a live event. To be a successful website, users need to participate in the conversation, not just spectate.

If you incorporate these three elements into your design, you will create an overall experience that makes you stand apart from your competitors. How do you know you’ve created a great user experience? You start to see valuable engagement- Users sign up for your newsletter, they share content on social media or they fill out your contact form. These are all forms of conversions, which are valuable indicators of your business’ online effectiveness.

This article was contributed by Magicdust, a full service digital agency providing small business owners with quality website design Sydney and Australia wide.