Having a website that gets traffic is important for any company. What techniques, then, are some of the best to use? In looking at the top 100 sites, I found 15 qualities that were consistently used on them. From the basics of white space to browser versatility, all of these websites possess the following qualities.

While some of these techniques may surprise you with their simplicity, they are some of the most effective strategies to build off of. These will help you to create a page that is a better experience for your viewers.

1. White Space


White space may seem like an obvious technique, but it is sometimes disregarded. How can such a simple thing make such a huge difference? Well, white space—as the name suggests—is the empty space between content like text and images.

This space is crucial for the success of a website because it gives the readers visual breaks. Text that is too cramped can easily overwhelm the reader and cause them to exit the site before consuming any of the information you’re trying to convey. Just as high school English teachers require every paper to be double-spaced, a website also has to have its own form of “double-spacing.”

However, it is important that not too much white space is used. When there is too much of it, the reader feels like the content you have is endless. A huge scrolling bar can make a visitor feel like your site is too big to navigate. This will lead them to find the information somewhere else. It is a difficult balance to reach, but use your eyes as your guide. If it looks too cramped, add a little space. Too spaced, bring it together just a bit.

In looking at Youtube, ranked 2nd of the top 100 sites, you can see that they have used white space all over the website. There is enough there to help the viewer to distinguish between the different types of content available. Additionally, since they have a white background, it keeps the colors from the video content from becoming overwhelming.

2. Typography


Typography might sound like a technique that is extremely complex and painful. Don’t worry. It’s not—it’s just a fancy term for the type of font you use. For example, whether you use Times New Roman or Calibri when you’re writing. Obviously, you want to find a font that is easy for the reader to read. A font like “Lobster” as shown in the image here, makes it hard for the reader to easily scan the information you have on your website.

Considering the weight of your font is also important. For body text, you don’t want to use a font that has a similar weight to bolded text. That will overwhelm the reader. You also don’t want to use a type that is so light that the reader struggles to see what is presented on the page.

Google, which is ranked 1st of the top 100, uses this technique well. For the headings of articles, they have chosen typography that is clear and large enough for the reader to scan easily. They have also used a weight that is heavier for the main title. The information underneath is slightly lighter, which helps to provide visual cues for the reader.

3. Graphics


Visuals are becoming more and more important for websites. Graphics, which include videos and pictures, help to capture the intended audience’s attention. After capturing that attention, the graphic then helps to reinforce the information that is read. When the reader tries to recall the information, the image will help to prompt their memory.

Graphics also help to break up the information that is provided. For a website that is featuring a product, graphics are essential. Viewers want to see what is available. Visuals add another layer of complexity to the website.

Amazon ranked 4th in the top 100, uses visuals to help engage the user’s attention even before they click on the product. Pictures of products take up the most space on every page with text in a small space underneath. The image helps to incite the user’s curiosity and give them a preview to make sure the product looks right before clicking.

4. Formatting


The three previous techniques are brought together in formatting the website. The way the information is put on a page can strongly impact how the reader finds the information. It helps to guide a reader through the information presented.

Let’s look at the formatting that Facebook uses (ranked 3rd out of 100). The feed of the user is directly in the center. This helps indicate to the reader that the feed is what they should be spending the majority of their time looking at. Along the top of the page, the small icons make it easy to move around the website.

To the left and right, Facebook has presented information that can be considered secondary in importance. To the left is the navigation icons. They are simply presented, which eliminates confusion for the reader. On the right, the list of contacts is listed. It provides an easy scroll-down list and a search option. The good use of white space helps to separate the sections. This allows the reader to see that the main feed is the most important focus on the website.

5. Purpose


The last four techniques focused more on simple changes that help to create a good website. While good, purpose is an essential technique to hone. If a website doesn’t have a specific purpose, it won’t be effective. This applies to both the written content and the visuals that are used.

Knowing your website’s purpose will help you know what type of website will be the best. If your website is supposed to be an interactive page for children, your purpose is completely different from a government website’s purpose. This directs the type of visuals and typographies you will use.

Regarding written content, it comes down to asking why you need that information on the website. Your information must always serve the purpose of your website. Keeping this in mind will help you build a unified platform that the user can use and recognize as one cohesive website.

6. Clarity and Conciseness


Clarity and conciseness are crucial. It is important to make sure that your writing is reader-directed. This means that your writing is allowing them to understand what they are supposed to do or learn. This also applies to what language you use. Using academic language in a blog makes the reader feel like they’re at a lecture; it isn’t reader-directed.

It is important to remember that readers like to scan for information. They don’t want to spend an hour trying to figure out what you’re talking about. Provide the root and meat of the information that they are coming to each page for clearly on that page.

Headings and sub-headings can really help to facilitate this. The reader can scan the article until they find the specific section they need.

7. Navigation




Having a website that makes it easy for users to find information creates a much less frustrating experience. An important thing that top websites look at is how long users stay on the page. If the information is hard to find, the user will go somewhere else to find the answer.

Wikipedia, ranked 5th of 100, makes its site very easy to navigate. On the left side of their page, they have a list of navigating options. This gives users an easy way to get back to the home page or find other information. Within the articles themselves, Wikipedia also uses tons of links. If a user is interested in learning more about a particular subject, they can click on the link. However, it does navigate to a new page, which can make it frustrating.

The three lines, which indicate a drop-down option, can discourage older users from using the site. Making a page easy for all audiences creates more traffic and helps the reader find information quickly and easily.

8. Accessibility


Making your website so anyone can use it is important, especially for those who may have handicaps. For those unable to type, Google has a speech option. There are auditory options as well. For most of its content, Youtube has subtitles available, which assist the hard-of-hearing. Google and Wikipedia also offer content in a variety of languages, enabling more users to access it.

You may also want to use larger text sizes if your site is designed for visually impaired people. They could choose to zoom in, but you’ll make it a better initial experience if the text is large enough to read from the get-go. 

9. Emphasis on Important Features


Sometimes, it is easy to get so caught up in getting everything perfect that you forget to emphasize important features. The reader can be engaged in everything else but miss the point of what you are trying to get them to do. A case study on a smaller website found that even though it was very engaging, the CTA(call to action) where users could contact the company for quotes was completely missed by many users. By emphasizing the CTA, the company increased the number of users who contacted them from their website, resulting in more business! (Source)

One way to emphasize your CTA is to change it to something more effective. I wrote a whole post on 30 better CTAs to use. Find out what they are here.

This example shows that focusing on these smaller aspects can help to improve a website’s effectiveness. Google, for example, has its logo and a search bar right below it. This emphasizes the fact that they are a search engine website. Wikipedia uses the same technique. A good website emphasizes the areas that are the most important.

10. Mobile & Responsive Design


Having the adaptability to work both on a desktop or mobile device is another technique that boosts the success of a website. The leading websites have created formats that work in both desktop and mobile forms. This makes it so much easier for a reader to find information while they are on the go.  Users can quickly pull up pages they need, like pages with contact information.

To learn more about responsive design and the best sizes for your website, check out my post here.

11. Specific to Audience Needs


Knowing and understanding the needs of the audience also helps to create a strong interface for the user. Websites like Home Depot know that their customers are mostly white men who are 50 years old. Their websites are built to tailor to that specific audience by finding the most relevant information, design, and content for those customers.

12. Engaging



Engaging the audience can be a difficult technique to get correct. Websites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have very engaging pages for their users. The opportunities to engage in discussions with others or create content are easy to interact with. Graphics that are interactive also help to engage the user if it is a more informational website. The most important thing to consider is the audience and their needs. This will guide what level of engagement you put on your website.

13. Color


The use of color can also enhance a good website because it helps to engage the user visually. Colors are also used to help signify a difference in purpose. All links appear in a blue font by default, so the user can automatically recognize when text is a link to another web page. Bright colors help to grab the user’s attention and to enhance specific features. The most successful websites have deliberate uses for the color they incorporate into their pages.

Only choosing a few colors as your focus can help create a clean, unified appearance. Don’t overload your site with color, but pick a few base shades to work with. This can be easy if you already have existing branding you can & should use the same colors.

14. Logo

Having a logo helps a good website to be recognized automatically. Even if someone does not have an Instagram account, they can probably identify the Instagram logo. The same holds true for Twitter and Facebook. Users can identify a website with a distinctive logo without seeing the URL in the address bar or the about page.

Having a logo on your website also helps build trust with website users. If products and services are sold or users are asked to enter their information, trust is key. A recognizable logo helps to create a lot of power for that website.

15. Contact/About Page

A contact/about page helps to build a website’s reputability. When the user can find information that helps them understand the website better, it creates a greater sense of trust. If users know whether or not the content they access is accurate, they feel more secure in buying endorsed products or signing up. This creates a cycle where the website continues to gain reputability and revenue from its users.