The speed at which a page downloads is the single most important factor in determining visitor satisfaction with a website. A few short years ago a site had 5-7 seconds to engage a visitor before the site was perceived as slow. Today, studies have shown you have about 2 seconds to download a page before the visitor gets frustrated and leaves. There are many factors that affect download speed.
2. Mobile Friendly
Over 50% of all web interactions are done via handheld devices. A site must be mobile-friendly, or it is going to be left behind.
3. Ease of Use
Visitors hate surprises. If your site visitors can't find the information they are looking for quickly, they will go elsewhere. It is imperative you make their time on your site as efficient as possible. This means no surprises, no mysteries, no marketing-speak. They don't want to have to learn something new just to view a website. Your logo should be in the expected spot. The navigation should be in the expected spot, with clearly worded links going to pages with clearly differentiated information. Site visitors don't want to hunt and they don't want to guess.
4. Clear Navigation
A site visitor should be able to tell where they are, where they can go and where they have been at all times. Clearly differentiated colors for unvisited and visited text-based links are a must, and descriptive page headings that expand upon the name of the link are key.
Less is more,
K.I.S.S., there are a lot of clichés about simplicity, and where websites are concerned, they hold true. A clean layout without a lot of clutter on the page will make it easier for the site visitor to find the information they are looking for and will also make for faster download.
6. Content is Key
Nice graphics and a good design will create a great impression, but visitors are on your website to learn something. Vapid, fluffy content is a disservice. Give them something worth reading. More content (i.e. more pages), is generally better. Each page should have a distinct purpose and a single topic.
7. Keep it Short
The text that is. Studies have shown that while people will read a newspaper or magazine, they only skim websites. Therefore, huge blocks of text look intimidating and are really a disservice. Keep sentences and paragraphs short, and use bulleted or numbered lists frequently. Because visitors skim, put the keywords at the beginning of sentences.
8. Small File Sizes
9. Use Text Links
The Internet started out as a text based medium, so certain elements of browsers and the other related infrastructure still favor text. Links made from graphics cannot be read by search engines or the devices used by the visually impaired to visit websites. Therefore, all the links in the sites navigation section and the links in the content of the site should be text based in nature. That is not to say you can't use graphics as links (like it is always a good idea to make your logo a link to the home page), but make sure the page includes a text link to the information in addition to the graphic link.
Few things drive visitors away like an out-of-date website. To retain repeat visitors, attract new ones, and remain viable, a website must be updated routinely. As an added incentive, some search engines use the frequency of updates as a factor in their rankings criteria.