The Ingredients of a Successful Website


The first published article on Six Revisions was about the things you need for a web project to succeed. Two years later, the site has reached a point that I would consider "successful".

The definition of "success" is different to everyone. To me, I define success as having a large audience that consists of readers from all over the globe that love and enjoy your work as much as you do.

The Ingredients of a Successful Website

In this article, I would like to reflect and share with you the things I consider to be the ingredients of our recipe for success and growth.

This article is part of Design Instruct Week, a weeklong celebration of our newly launched site, Design Instruct. This week on Six Revisions covers topics that deal with running websites and design, written by the founders/editors of Design Instruct and Six Revisions. Be sure to check out the Design Instruct Week Twitter Giveaway, which gives out different prizes every day of Design Instruct Week.

Unyielding passion for your work

Growing a web project takes time and dedication. It involves many days with little or no sleep. It has an abundance of minutia tasks that need to be done when you’d rather be doing something else. Building a website necessitates a schedule that would make anyone but those who are truly passionate and dedicated to their idea, give up. Do you have it in you?

A strong knowledge about your subject

Whether you’re building an email app that will revolutionize the way people do emails or a web publication about baking cookies, you have to know your subject inside and out. When you’re not well informed, it clearly shows through to your audience. Being knowledgeable about your subject is about creating trust: Internet users are wary about the things they consume on the Web. If you can’t prove to them that you can be trusted, they have thousands of other sites to choose from.

Talented people

The foundation of any web startup is the people that have built it. It’s no secret that the largest component that drives the continual growth of Six Revisions and Design Instruct are their brilliant writers. Without them, our two sites wouldn’t be where they are now.

Discovering people with the same passion and belief is rare. Thankfully, we’ve found a few of them that have decided to join our family (you can see just some of them on the About page). I spend a lot of my time working with our writers, as well as helping them grow their own websites.

Partners that complement your skills

In the first article of Six Revisions, I said that you should avoid going solo for your web project. When things start to build up, in order to carry forward your growth and keep up with demands, you need to collaborate with someone.

For Design Instruct, I knew I needed someone who would be better than I am with visual art and design. I was a graphic designer back in the days when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, but have now since moved onto web development and web design. I also knew that I couldn’t run two sites on my own, yet I was fearful to put my fate in the hands of just anyone.

This is when I approached my brother (Isaac) to team up with me. He’s an illustrator and photographer by trade, and someone who—regardless of our relationship—is vastly dissimilar from me. He has brought his knowledge, skills, fresh ideas, and passion to the table.

Design Instruct and Six Revisions wouldn’t be able to advance without a solid partner, and I’m almost certain that your web project won’t be able to either.

An open ear to your audience

Your users have a lot to say. They have a vested interest in your growth and have entrusted you with the responsibility of constantly improving yourself to meet their needs. Oftentimes, when we believe in something so steadfastly, we tend to shut these voices of alternative thoughts out.

Critics are a penny a dozen on the Web—the Internet gives people a cloak of anonymity that make it a piece of cake for raffish individuals to say negative things about your web project just for kicks.

However, there are also many people with ideas and suggestions that can make your site better. Take advantage of the collective nature of the Internet by listening to your users’ opinions, suggestions, and ideas. They have taken the time to share these ideas at no cost to you but your time to listen to them.

Relationships with people in your industry

The Web has the ability to connect us with people that we might not be in close proximity to. It’s important to foster and create relationships with people in your industry, regardless of whether you consider them competition or not. When we are working together rather than against each other, we can drive innovation and grow together instead of creating a counterproductive environment.

Make it a habit to reach out and contact the people in your industry. Participate on discussions in their website (you can, for example, frequently find me in the trenches of Smashing Magazine and Envato comment sections), see if there are opportunities to team up and build something together, trade war stories, and just get yourself on their radar.

Staying informed about the happenings in your industry

Keeping up with the events happening around you is critical. It’s part of being knowledgeable about your subject and is something your audience expects you to be doing. Especially on the Web, when things change so rapidly and interests are fickle, it’s imperative to maintain your information current.

Effective time management skills

Having a good time and task management habit ensures that you can keep up with the growth of your web project. Time is the primary limiting factor to your growth, and thus, you have to treat it as a resource, just like your budget and your technology infrastructure.

Taking risks

What stuns advancement of any project is the fear of change. Fear of change leads to fewer or no innovations. On the Web, being risk-adverse is not a good trait to have. In a realm where things move very quickly, being a stick in the mud will only make sure that the people around you that are taking all the risks will be reaping the rewards instead of you.

Looking out for opportunities to grow

The reason I personally respond to every email (I get hundreds a week) and carve out blocks of my time to partake in interviews, participate in discussions, write on other web publications, join panels, write books, and other activities that may not have a direct impact on Six Revisions or Design Instruct is because I never want to end up saying, "I wish I’d done that."

Being receptive to possibilities outside of the websites that I run, without a doubt, has contributed to the growth of my own web projects.

What are your own ingredients for success? Let’s talk about them in the comments below.

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About the Author

Jacob Gube is the Founder and Chief Editor of Six Revisions. He’s also a web developer/designer who specializes in front-end development (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) and PHP development, and a book author. If you’d like to connect with him, head on over to the contact page and follow him on Twitter: @sixrevisions.

This was published on Mar 6, 2010


Marnie B Mar 06 2010

Awesome article. I have to agree with every point and think they’re also really relevant to just trying to start a business or sell a product in general.

Matthew Heidenreich Mar 06 2010

great article. I myself and working on setting up a new site, so I know what it’s like in the initial stages of getting it out there. It’s gotta be nice to have SixRevisions to back up DesignInstruct though ;-)

Thomas Craig Consulting Mar 06 2010

Awesome post Jacob, agree with you a hundred percent. Two points that really stick out to me is the Time management and listening to your intended audience. Time management would probably be my #1.

Duane Kinsey Mar 07 2010

Inspiring stuff Jacob. In my opinion, to succeed the number one ingredient is passion. Passion for what you do will carry you through anything.
Your passion has made Six Revisions what it is today.
Good luck with Design Instruct!

Federica Sibella Mar 07 2010

Good points really.
We started our website from some months and we are happy about how things are going right now, but at the very beginning fear was great and taking risks was our only opportunity (after planning almost everything that could be planned, of course!). I would add that a little bit of luck is also fundamental: being in the right place at the right moment, speaking with the right people, …

Roei cpo Mar 07 2010

Great article Jacob!! very useful, thanks

Noel Wiggins Mar 07 2010

I love the point about time as a resource, it is extremely difficult to maintain your website or any other type of marketing as you become busier and busier, managing your time is the best way to combat this, I have been playing around with an “egg timer” where I will break tasks up into either 30 minute or 1:30 tasks, if I need more time I might extend it but this time focus has enabled me to stay on track and avoid distractions from phone or emails, they can wait for the task to be over…

Then there is of course the need to partner with others, I personally love the design and development part of any project but the copy writing part not so much. So teaming up with copywriters is a dream come true…

Congratulations on six revisions reaching the status of success, I am hoping to get there some day as well…

Jaan Pill Mar 07 2010

Great article. Minor quibble: “Partners that compliment your skills.’ The word that fits is “complement.”

wow. thanks for these healthy ingredients Jacob :)

Mark Merenda Mar 07 2010

I think you mean “complement” and not “compliment.”

Fernando Miguel Mar 07 2010

Amazing words Jacob. The very best to do in your life is the most important things that really matters to you. This is the Passion. The others are naturally consequence like Duane sads.

Hugs for all.

Time management is something that is not easy to do.
Great post Jacob!

Rajib Roy Mar 07 2010

It is a nice article.

Cairns Web Mar 07 2010

Yes listen to your users, study your stats and find out what your users are looking for, expand on the most popular information.

esranull Mar 07 2010

Awesome article. I have to agree with every point and think they’re also really relevant to just trying to start a business or sell a product in general.

Sunny Singh Mar 07 2010

I have to disagree about the having a partner or group of people working on the project. There’s nothing wrong with doing a one-man project, and sometimes you receive more benefits that way.

Sure it’s great to receive help, but it’s such a general assumption that everyone need it.

Great article, I agree with everything else.

Purencool Mar 08 2010

Thanks for this information I found it very useful I enjoyed the looking out for opportunities to grow. I had never thought to join panels. I can see how this would lift my profile.

Jacob Gube Mar 08 2010

@Matthew Heidenreich: It does help, of course. But all of these “ingredients” work whether you’re starting from scratch or already have many websites.

@Federica Sibella: I would say that there’s a bit of luck in building up websites, or anything really. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, you’ve got to be at the right place, at the right time. But, I feel that if you do work hard, that you increase your luck!

@Noel Wiggins: That method helps me very much, actually! When I know there’s a timeline, I’m less prone to distractions. I use my iPhone and the Timer feature of it. I set it for 45 minutes. It’s done wonders for productivity, especially when you’re doing administrative work.

@Jaan Pill and @Mark Merenda: I did mean “compliment” as in, your partner’s skills aids your own skills; in other words, your partner amplifies your own skill set. However, “Complement” does work too because you should look for a partner that completes your skill set. I was going for the former, but in the discussion, it seems like I should’ve gone for the later.

@Fernando Miguel: Wonderful words, I agree with you 100%. Passion is the only ingredient that you need, the rest is a result of that passion.

@esranull: This would be the same exact approach that I would have if I was starting a business. Good connection!

@Sunny Singh: I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with one-man projects, just that in my experience, in order to continue to grow, I needed help.

Jay Peterson Mar 08 2010

Excellent article. I especially agree with the passion and time management ones. If you aren’t passionate about your website’s topic it will show. Visitors can tell when you’re just phoning it in. Time management skills are crucial as well.

Jordan Walker Mar 08 2010

Those are all very true of a passionate person for work and life in general.

Surprised to see effective branding and marketing strategy missing from the list.

Mark Merenda Mar 08 2010

Do you mean “the latter”?

Love this!

Happy to read this right when we’re starting our site redesign :).

Syed Balkhi Mar 09 2010

Agreed 100% Jacob. Excellent article.

Great article, I couln’t agree more with each single point you ahve made. Following you in twitter. My website is still in the making. Is it ever going to be good enough for me? : )

rutger steenbergen Mar 11 2010

Great article and I recognize a lot of things:

My biggest mistake: a lack of focus. So many great things I wanna learn and explore, but I have to limit myself. I know, but still :)

Jaan Pill Mar 23 2010

While I understand what you’re trying to say in your response to earlier comments concerning the compliment/complement distinction, I would suggest, with respect, that the phrase “Partners that compliment your skills” is an awkward use of language which detracts from the overall quality of the article.

Hey, Just coming to this post a little late. It would be remiss of me to leave without complimenting someone who can throw the word “raffish” into their writing in such an off-hand and insouciant manner.

Excellent article. Just sometimes the people that you working with are not willing to work together, or open their minds to new ideas.

Pablinho Jun 06 2011

As always, very informative article. Personally, I consider content to be one of the most relevant aspects that make a successful website.

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