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When it comes to buying a new pair of shoes, good looks and durability are important but if you want shoes that are great for your feet the most important thing to look for is...
Support is the number one, most important element of a shoe because it effects the health and comfort of your feet. When people talk about support in a shoe they are referring to the ability of the shoe to reduce over-pronation, the natural inward twisting motion of the foot and ankle. To control over-pronation and support the foot a shoe must have a stiff mid-sole and a firm heel counter. A shoe with a soft, flexible mid-sole gives no support because it twists and bends with your foot as you walk. A shoe with a stiff mid-sole and a strong heel counter locks your foot in and keeps it from twisting (pronating). This reduces fatigue and strain and reduces the chance of injury.
heel counter

In the sections "More About Mid-Soles" and "Heel Counter" all the shoes pictured are running shoes. This is NOT because this information only applies to running shoes. The reason running shoes were chosen for the photos was that they include all the support structures that needed to be highlighted and they do it in a way that is easy to photograph. In fact most all the information presented in these sections applies across the board to any type or gender of shoe. This includes men's and women's, athletic shoes, casual shoes, dress shoes, outdoor shoes and hiking boots.