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What website visitors want

There are often discrepancies between the values of website owners and website visitors. Website owners are often primarily concerned with the appearance of their websites at the expense of those things that website visitors want: speed, clarity, and a complete absence errors of any sort. Appearance is of course important, but there is a threshold beyond which design matters little: a minimum viable design.

Website visitors (including search engine bots) want design that is clean, consistent, and supportive of content. They don’t want to be confused or surprised by elaborate design schemes. They are somewhat impressed at times by animation and other entertaining flourishes, but they don’t necessarily want to be entertained at all. The average website visitor wants content, whether text, images, or video, and they want it fast.

Nobody likes to wait for a web page to load. It’s worse than sitting at a long traffic light. And when that page finally loads, the worst thing in the world is to wait more, which is what happens to the hapless site visitor when they click a menu link on a slow, or even moderately slow site. Because whatever is making one page slow to load will make all pages slow to load. This is inexcusable, more than any defects in layout, and the slower your site is the more visitors it will turn away. It doesn’t have to be like this. If your website offers simple content—text and images—it can and should be lighting fast assuming a reasonably good internet connection. A static site can help you reach this goal.

An even surer way to turn visitors away is to present them with a white screen of death, a horribly broken layout, an inscrutable error of some sort, a spammy redirect, or an “under maintenance” page. All the time and money sunk into a design are wasted if any of these things happen because they’ll immediately send visitors back to their favorite search engine. Worse, search engines may have indexed such broken pages or may blacklist your site due to suspected malware. Your SEO could plummet. All such pitfalls are highly unlikely with a static site, which is reviewed after it is generated, before it is posted, and checked for problems. And once a static site is live, its simplicity is its best protection.