Ok, so maybe previous articles and other stuff out there kind of abstractly talk about "good" design in terms of goals. However today I am presenting an metaphor I think we can all relate to.
Good Web Design is like Riding an Elevator
So lets think about this. Why do you use an elevator? We use them to get to places typically within the building we're on that are other than where we are now. Why use it? There's something we want on another floor whether it's something we want like another store or something we need from the place we're at. Sure they can also be used to just check out what's around as well, no harm in that.
When thinking about your destination is the elevator on your mind? Not really right? Exactly how a well designed website should be. You don't want it creating a bunch of visual noise that suffocates your content. You want people to be able to instantly make use of it to obtain the content they want while making sure the journey was pleasant enough for them to come back.
How People Use an Elevator
How does an elevator work? Well I'm not going to go into the specifics of how an elevator works but from a user perspective, the people who will be paying money at your stores or in our case using your site, their perspective is that you press a button an elevator comes to your floor. You wait a bit, enter it, then press the button to go to the desired floor and it goes there while picking up people along the way who pushed the button on their floor.
Strong Elevator Experience
Strong user experience for an elevator relies on the buttons being easy to find. The elevator being quick but not too quick, along with it being a smooth ride plus some sort of lighting (kids used to take out the lightbulbs in the elevators at my apartment, it was like riding in a coffin which was entertaining but still a bit off putting).
What a strong user experience doesn't need is someone welcoming them into the elevator, music, especially "elevator music", buttons that don't indicate where you're going, mechanical panels to reveal the buttons upon entering, nor security key fob scanners or card scanners. While those security measures are tolerable they're annoying.
Elevators are like Websites
Now back to websites. Websites are much the same way. Who wants to wait forever to get information you're looking for? Even on entertainment websites on Facebook it's important that you can use them to quickly find information on your friends so you can go back to what you're doing or share your next moment when the time comes. You're not waiting for the Facebook theme-song to play, animated buttons to load the content in box-by-box, everything that's there helps you use Facebook. Even the background color white is there to provide good contrast against black text which is generally the more preferred type colors based on readability.
Sure there are exceptions when more of an "experience" is needed to better sell the content. However I do challenge when they are needed, for instance: game sites. There was a game that came out a few years ago called "Nier" and wanting to learn more I went to their website: http://www.niergame.com/ the problem is I NEVER LEARNED what the game is about. Never found any gameplay footage or anything interesting, just sounds and animation and color that didn't help me get anywhere so you know what I did? I left. I haven't been there since just now and I never even played the game, I just didn't care anymore by that point.