10+ Website Design Principles That Work
Whether you’re building your site from scratch or you plan to use one of the free WordPress themes, you need to make sure your design will capture the attention of website visitors. When people enter your site and leave within the first few seconds without exploring your content, you know something is wrong. Although there is no magical web design formula, there are some rules that bring results. If you’re not sure what works and what doesn’t, have a look at these facts about users’ common behavior on websites.
Quality and credibility keep users engaged
Users value quality content – both textual and visual. If you want to make the most of your web design, make sure all the texts on your site are valuable, informative, and relevant. Combine them with eye-catching visuals to keep people engaged.
People scan the content
Attention span is shrinking so you need to capture people’s attention right away. Have in mind that most people don’t actually read everything that’s written on your site, they scan. In other words, people search for crucial points or anchors that will lead them through the content.
Time is precious
We can’t stress this enough – if you don’t catch the attention the first time someone enters your site, you probably won’t have a second chance. So, your amazing design can be useless unless it meets users’ expectations.
Simplicity always works
People like to have control, not to feel frustrated. Be consistent in presenting your content, offer simple navigation, and don’t confuse people with tons of functionalities and popup fields that can scare them away.
Principles of Good Website Design
Although all of this sounds logical, most of the time it’s easier said than done. To help you make the most of your web design, we prepared this practical guide with our favorite website design principles that work.
- Visual Hierarchy Works
- Less is More – Simplicity Rules
- Your Content Should be Playful, Not Distracting
- Know Your Target Audience
- Don’t be Boring
- Usability and Functionality Come First
- Details Can Change it all
- Easily Understood Content
- Visually Appealing Hero Sections
- Emphasis on What Matters Most
- Navigation Matters
- Website Load Time
- Color Palette
- Typography and Fonts
- Image Choices and Galleries
All web design experts agree on one thing: visual hierarchy is one of the most important principles of good web design. Basically, it’s the order in which your content appears and in which people consume it.
The visual hierarchy allows you to organize your content so that people can access it in just a few steps. The smart visual hierarchy makes every aspect of our content easy to find and prevents wandering around without finding the information they are looking for. Make sure your menu, buttons, and links are visible and approachable.
Every element of your site should have its place based on its importance, so make sure important sections have priority.
If you want to lose your website visitors and distract them from the important info, you will use a complicated design style. Putting too many elements on one page can seriously damage the balance on your site. To do things right follow this simple website design principle: Less is more. Clean surfaces and minimalistic design elements keep people focused on what really matters. When you use too many color variations, numerous call to actions and different animation types you could confuse visitors. In other words, when everything is emphasized, nothing stands out. Go with the neutral color palette and a limited number of vibrant design elements to highlight what truly matters.
Experienced designers value simplicity. When you know how to properly combine whitespace, headlines, text sections, and image galleries, you can do a lot with a basic, minimalistic site. So, our general advice for effective web design would be to make your site stylish and interactive, but not distracting. If you don’t trust us, have a look at the branding direction of the world’s leading companies such as Google and Apple. Their simple, yet powerful design direction became iconic.
Different people have different tastes in design. This means that one design style won’t work the same for different target audiences. For instance, if you plan to create a gaming website your color choices and overall style will surely differentiate from the design style you could use for SPA centers. Before you start working on your online presentation, take some time to research your target audience. Depending on their preferences, age, professional background, you can plan your site smarter. Thus, knowing your ‘buyer persona’ will allow you to define your design approach right from the start. As a result, your customers will feel at home every time they enter your site.
Another website design principle you should have in mind is this: Don’t blend in. With the rise of social media and the increased time we spend scrolling through the content, attracting attention is becoming almost impossible. However, with the right design, authentic headlines, and a smart marketing strategy, you can reach millions of potential followers and potential clients. So, if you don’t want to be boring and invisible, make sure your unique character is visible in design details, colors, headlines, phrases, etc. Basically, everything that appears on your site should reflect your values, branding story, and business goals. Be real, but never be boring.
Effective website design revolves around usability and functionality. If your website is slow, poorly organized, cluttered with insufficient content and confusing, you will lose people’s attention in the first few seconds after they enter your site. So, make sure everything about your site is balanced and practical. To achieve a clear, user-friendly, yet engaging website experience, pay attention to basic things. Every button and call to action should be positioned correctly, so visitors will be engaged to click right away. Also, don’t forget to optimize your website’s speed – even the greatest design is for nothing if your site doesn’t load fast. Use website speed loading plugins to do this with ease.
Good website design is all about details. Whether you use a free WordPress theme or tailor-made design direction, make sure even the tiniest details on your site reflect your unique personality. Never use generic, stock images unless they have high-quality and original content. Make sure your font is easy-to-read, yet effective. Also, bring your authenticity in small details such as icons, navigation arrows, and team sections.
What people see at first, determines whether they will keep browsing through the website or leave immediately. Every headline, text, and call to action message should be placed in the right place and organized to attract attention. Combine texts and images, add video or audio segments to illustrate your text, and use paragraphs to create a pleasing reading experience. Have in mind that too much text may scare people away. Break your texts into smaller paragraphs followed by bullets, quotes, and images for the best result.
Another web design principle we need to mention is the hero image section. As it’s the first thing people will see once they enter the site, make sure it steals their attention. Pay special attention to font choices, color scheme, and image type you plan to put in the hero section. Stay away from generic design elements and polish each detail to perfection. When you do the header section right you’re opening a path to a large number of conversions.
Do you sell hand-made crafts? Do you offer high-quality wedding photography? Is the main focus of your business legal field? No matter what kind of services you provide, make sure to emphasize your business focus. Take time and define what’s essential for your business strategy and your customers as well. Once you define the needs and wants, you can plan design, colors, and texts more precisely. For instance, if your target audience is a gaming community, you should go with the darker color scheme, strong color contrasts, bold fonts, and inviting text messages. On the other hand, if you want to create a wedding photography portfolio, you should go with clean surfaces, an elegant color palette with the dominance of white and neutral, yet refined font options.
In short, navigation is the way your customers will move through your content to find what they are looking for. As another important website design principle, intuitive navigation will increase conversions. Thus, poor navigation can be confusing to visitors and result in an increased bounce rate. So, if you want to make sure your visitors will ‘consume’ your content with success, keep your navigation simple, user-friendly and consistent. Navigation arrows, bullets, links, and buttons should be cleverly incorporated into your every website page.
Even the best design is for nothing if your website loads slowly. Most people will lose interest in your content if your site doesn’t load in two seconds or less. To prevent this, optimize your images, delete all unnecessary plugins and always choose a good hosting provider.
Colors have the power to evoke certain emotions and create a specific atmosphere. When you choose the right color palette you will be able to provoke specific emotional responses and actions. Effective web design requires a unique, memorable, and trendy color palette. If you’re not sure which color combination will work the best for your brand, stick to a contemporary color scheme – white, black, grey, beige. Also, don’t use too many colors. Instead, stick to less than 5 colors for the best result. Don’t forget to use vivid colors in details such as buttons, sign-up forms, etc.
All texts on your site are there for a reason. To use them to the fullest, make sure they are written in the right font. Your website typography options should be unique to your brand and in line with your design. Styling of the words can engage people to take further action, so make smart font choices. Use a maximum of 3 different fonts on the website – play with bolder fonts in headlines and stick to traditional, easy-to-read fonts in longer texts.
The image is worth a thousand words. So, choose the images for your site with special care. But don’t limit yourself only to photos. Play with illustrations, videos, and other forms of graphics to create unique imagery on your site. As you may know, people easily consume visual information; so pay special attention to this aspect of your web design.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Good website design is simple, yet unique, powerful, yet user-friendly. The secret to effective web design is in the fine balance between functionality and beauty. However, finding this balance isn’t always an easy task. To create a site that stands out you need to pay attention to everything from content organization, typography, colors, and navigation to load time and small details. So, take your time and plan your new, outstanding website like a professional!
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!
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