There are certainly several standards to define this and one could write a book on the subject (any many have). To define it more briefly, however, I have broken it down to a few key areas. A lot of people have tried to describe greatness with too many detailed and confusing factors but in my opinion – a great website is made up of the following.
Well, just to name a few: Website Content, Appeal, Usability & Accessibility, and Purpose.
Simply put – if a user can’t find information they are looking for, they have no reason to be on your site and won’t stay there. You need to make sure content is easy to find; and can be found in a variety of ways if possible. For example, having a consistent navigational menu, a sitemap, footer links, and internal page links are all excellent suggestions.
A built in search function is also a great feature to have. All in all, make sure you take every step possible to ensure the user experience is a good one. Allowing them to find content easily certainly provides this ability.
You should also try to keep content fresh. Not only will fresh and updated content be more likely to keep visitors returning but Google itself considers the freshness of content an important value when determining rank.
How many websites have you seen that may have had a great product but you were reluctant to purchase because of a poor design?
Unless you are one of the big boys like Google, you really need to make sure you look into your website design. It doesn’t have to be overly artistic but it should be appealing. Your goal is to keep visitors on your site and to keep them coming back. A poor design defeats that purpose.
Keep things are where most users expect them to be. If you can’t get your website to look great, meet the user half way and promote a sense of structure and conformity. Set out your page elements to be where the user expects to see them.
For instance, keep the logo in the top left, have top bar navigation and/or sidebar navigation or panels. Use a search function and use your footer area effectively. Your main content area should be obviously easy to read and void of clutter.
This is by no means a must do but it is what the majority of users expect. The most important factor is keeping everything consistent like colors, headings, navigation and etc. Don’t have all your links different colors, some with underlines and some not. Don’t have top bar navigation on one page and only sidebar navigation on the next.
These are just a few main areas to target and are a good basis for a solid website design.