For the past several years, we have seen an upsurge of interest in website design. According to recent statistics, more than 1.5 billion websites serve almost 5 billion unique Internet users each day, generating billion dollars of revenue.
Website is all you need to grab a piece of this staggering billion-dollar pie. However, there is a catch: not every website can get this slice. The deal is, with the competition is getting tougher, meeting the demands of the market is becoming harder and harder. It is no longer enough to have a set of interlinked pages with content, a pretty design, and some basic functionality.
The key to success lies in introducing web design principles. They make the project work flawlessly and at the same time provide the owner with a solid platform to stand the competition, push the brand forward, run marketing campaigns, and earn money.
Let's walk through some good reasons why it is important to follow the principles of web design during the web design process and what makes a good website design.
Why Is It important to Follow Web Design Principles
Not only has website design carved a niche for itself, but it also has emerged into a discipline with its own rules, postulates, and principles. Like any other field of study, it does not like shortcuts and cheating; it requires its students to espouse the website design philosophy to achieve success.
For instance, one of the essential website design principles is the validation of a code. As the team of WordPress, which widely adopts website design philosophy, puts it, validation is the crucial process that makes a website page meets the current requirements and standards. Everyone should do it regardless of the scale of the project, because it ensures an effective website design with a consistent user experience.
Indeed, having a website that does not fail or crush suddenly is the basis of everything. You cannot move forward without a reliable partner that is here for you all the time, communicating with clients, advocating your brand, and promoting your product.
That is not all. Website design principles are beneficial for some other good reasons. For instance,
- They improve the overall corporate image.
- They ensure your website does what it should without misinterpretation.
- They guide users throughout the website, deliver all the vital information and eventually compel them to take action.
- They meet the demands of target market.
- They drive engagement and retain users.
- They build trust and credibility.
- They realize marketing strategies thereby generating conversions and increasing revenue.
To sum up, when you follow website design principles you get yourself not just a good website design but also an effective one, because
- You guarantee your website runs smoothly, meeting your visitors with an impressive and meaningful design, valuable content, and necessary functionality 24/7.
- You provide a great user experience that assists the decision-making process.
- You take your website to the next level by introducing crucial features like accessibility or responsiveness.
- You rack in cash by steadily running marketing campaigns.
- You improve the reputation of your brand.
- You focus on your product or service, providing users with better solutions and making the web a better place.
Top Web Design Principles
So, what makes a good website design? There is no easy answer.
Website design is an extensive discipline with numerous rules, axioms, and canons. Some principles of web design help unobtrusively introduce tiny interactive details to entertain users, while others help to experiment safely with ultra-modern marketing campaigns without ruining the overall user experience.
Depending on your goal, niche, target market, and brand's ideology, you may benefit from one or another set of tenets. However, whatever project you have, it should follow nine essential principles of good website design. They are a cornerstone of everything that keep content, design, functionality, usability, accessibility, and marketing in balance. Let's consider them closely.
1. Decide on Your Goal
One of the most crucial web design principles is deciding on the goal of the project. Everything begins with that. If you do not have a clear goal, you will not know where to move. Your idea for the web application and goal are interconnected. Therefore, after you have come up with something amazing, sit down and figure out what this project's goal will be. It will determine everything and set a vector for the development. Consider these cases in point:
- If you want to share your thoughts with the local crowd, you will need a simple blog with basic functionality and minimum SEO.
- If you want a corporate website, you will need a professional business website, minimal functionality like a contact form or impressive hero area, but thorough analysis of the competitors and niche, and good SEO.
- If you want to sell your products, you will need more than just a simple web page. You will need an alluring design, complex functionality like payment getaways or user accounts, solutions to realize marketing campaigns like pop-ups, landing pages, banners, and some advanced SEO.
As you can see, your goal will undermine the whole web design process; therefore, set it straight and do not overdo it. One project – one goal.
2. Think Through Information Architecture
Whatever impressive animation or interactive playground you are up to, the content will always be the king. Therefore, thinking through information architecture is a fundamental web design principle.
Information architecture is the art of organizing the content on your project and page. Its main task is to help users locate necessary information with the least amount of effort and time. It forms the foundation of the future interface and gives web developers and designers hints on what features to include and what functionality to add.
It has its rules. Here are some of them:
- Each page should bring value.
- Each page should have only one or two actions.
- Information should be limited to deliver the message more effectively.
- Users should have various ways to browse the content.
- Navigation should focus on how to help users to reach their goals.
- Content should be treated as an element with its lifecycle, behavior, and attributes.
3. Nail Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy is an arrangement of the content (both textual and visual) on the page. It is achieved through smart play with color, size, contrast, scale, balance, and other stylistic options. It helps create a guided experience for the users, establish unobtrusive focal points and compel visitors to interact with the project the way you need.
Much like IA (information architecture), it has its standards. Follow these best practices to meet them:
- Benefit from the established scanning patterns. As a rule, website designers stick to F-pattern and Z-pattern that help them organize information on the page effectively, providing a good reading experience and prioritizing crucial chunks of data.
- Use insights of perceptual psychology. For instance, the bigger element is, the easier it is to notice, read and understand. Therefore, if you want to stress out the CTA, you do not have to reinvent the wheel - just make it big.
- Add enough whitespace. Whitespace plays two essential roles in website design. First, it ensures an optimal reading experience. Second, it naturally sets priorities.
- Play with direction. Usually, the text is organized either vertically or horizontally. Therefore, to emphasize the message, you can use a diagonal direction or arrange it on a curve.
4. Be Smart with Typography
Typography is one of those tiny details that make the real difference. The deal is, it helps the content to be the king and take the overall aesthetics to the next level. Therefore, playing smart with typography is an essential website design principle.
Consider these 7 top rules of good typography:
- Each typeface has its character and personality.
- Typography creates a hierarchy.
- Typography should work consistently across all screen sizes.
- The legibility, weight, and decorative side of letterforms influence readability, accessibility, and usability.
- The line spacing and line-height are crucial for good readability.
- Line length should be between 70 and 80 characters.
- The design needs at least two types of font. The first one is for headlines; the second one is for blocks of text.
5. Prioritize Mobile Compatibility
The Mobile web is prevailing. According to recent studies, more than 70% of mobile users (that is 4.8 billion people) prefer looking for reviews and shopping through handheld devices. You cannot avoid these demands and expectations. Therefore, making your web projects mobile-friendly is another crucial web design principle.
Two solutions help to realize it in the project. The first way implies introducing responsive design with mobile-friendly features, whereas the second suggests creating a mobile-first design with some responsive features.
As a rule, businesses prefer the first approach since it is universal and covers the large crowd. However, if you target the generation Z who never part from their cell phones, then the second approach could be more beneficial and cost-effective.
6. Implement Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The website design should be inclusive and accessible - it is not just a part of website design philosophy; it is a widely recognized standard. Not only does it bridge the gap between the interface and people with disabilities, but it also helps to reach the broader target by providing consistent user experience to people with temporary impairments, bad financial background, poor internet connection, etc.
Some of the accessibility guidelines to follow are:
- All the buttons, links, navigational units, and controls should be tappable and easy to reach.
- Images that make sense should have alternative text.
- Navigation should be accessible through the mouse, keyboard, gestures, and AT technologies.
- The order of interacting with the interface should be logical.
- Users should have a chance to adjust the text on the screen and partially customize the interface.
- Everything redundant needs to be removed.
- Audio and video should provide users with total control.
- The minimal contrast between background and foreground should have a 4.5:1 ratio.
7. Never Miss Out Usability
Usability defines how well the user can use a website and how quickly and efficiently they can achieve their goal. It is a study of user's behavior that underlies marketing strategies ensuring the overall success of the venture.
Jakob Nielsen, a pioneer in UX design principles, has formed ten heuristic rules that everyone should follow. They are:
- The design should always inform users about what is going on.
- The design should use concepts familiar to users.
- The interface should be consistent, uniform, and conventional.
- The interface needs to be self-explanatory.
- Information needs to be relevant and valuable for the user.
- Users should have getaways and "emergency exits" from any situation.
- Error-prone situations should be prevented by adding confirmation stages or providing error messages.
- Users should quickly recover from the error.
- People should not memorize information to move smoothly across the website. Everything should be evident.
- Users should have the ability to speed up the process by using shortcuts or customization options or benefiting from a personalized experience.
8. Adopt the Laws
As we have noted, web design has numerous laws that help to make an effective website design. Let's consider some of the most popular ones:
- Golden ratio rule. It teaches us that the design choice should not be accidental. Use golden ratio to arrange content within a page or section to create an aesthetically pleasing design with an optimal user experience.
- Hick's Law. Hick teaches us to eliminate many choices because the more options users have, the more indecisive they will be. It underlies the marketing strategies and compels developers to create more sophisticated and accurate filters so that users do not feel lost in the proposed variety.
- Fitt's law. Fitt teaches us that the bigger object is, the closer it looks, and the easier it is to use. Therefore, if you want to add CTA or some crucial controls, they should be big to stand out from the content flow and help users to interact with the project efficiently.
- Kurt Koffka laws. Koffka stands behind Gestalt design psychology. It has eight rules that help to predict how users will see your website. One of its essential principles is that people first see the whole of your website and only then distinguish its components like header, footer, or sidebar. Therefore, make sure everything the general picture is great.
- Krug's law. Krug teaches us to make web pages self-explanatory. The simpler, the better. Do not make users think, and do not squander their patience.
- Boehm's law. Boehm teaches us that errors are frequent during the development process. The more you wait to remove them, the more expensive it will be. Therefore, every web development stage needs to be polished thoroughly.
9. Test Everything
Doing tests is a vital website design principle that always stays overlooked. Negligence of this tenet causes many errors in the post-production stage that leads to money loss and great disappointment.
You can do various tests; however, the most important are:
- Validation of the code.
- Browser compatibility test.
- Responsive test.
- Mobile-friendliness test.
- Accessibility test.
- A/B test.
The popularization of quick solutions, like website builders, has played a "cruel joke" on the entrepreneurs, making them believe that they can get a reliable online platform to rack in cash without much effort. However, the golden rule of every success story is, there is no such thing as free lunch. You need to hire a professional web design company to get a high-quality product to ensure success.
Indeed, effective website design that presents your brand, wins over clients, and generates conversions is not just a random thing. It is a well-thought-out product created by a professional team with website design principles in mind.
Today we have listed the top 9 crucial web design principles. However, there are more of them. Depending on your goal, niche, and target market, you need to adopt others to make sure website works as intended and achieves goals successfully.