When I talk to clients I have found these three things really resonate. A website needs to be easy to find in search engines, easy for visitors to use and easy to update. It would be hard to say one of these items is more or less important than the other.
4 years when I first started building websites all my clients wanted them to "look good". There was very little awareness of search engine traffic, Content Management Systems and even less awareness of the importance of user testing. Basically they wanted a brochure website. I've noticed a big shift in the last year. Businesses and organizations I talk to are more focused on ease of use and discovery.
So let's break it down:
Easy To Find: what good is a website that no-one can find in search engines? Very little. A modern website needs to be built from the ground up to be search engine friendly. This means site architecture, keyword research and implementation. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is serious stuff. You do it right and the world is knocking on your door. You do it wrong, or more often not at all!, and your business can wither and die.
Easy To Use: now that you've got people to your website does it convert? Do they know what to do? Consider this, if your site has a 1% conversion rate you can either work to increase that rate to 2% through user testing and changes or work to double your traffic via search engines, email etc. They both have the same outcome. Guess which one is easier? A "beautiful" website is a fine thing but it is meaningless if it doesn't convert.
Easy To Update: this is probably the number one complaint that I hear from clients. "I can't update my %&$* site! I have to pay the Web company to do it, it takes forever, costs too much." Back in the late 90s and early 2000s many sites were built without a Content Management System (CMS).
Is your website easy to find, easy to use and easy to update? If not then it's time for a real website that will actively grow your business.