If you’ve been navigating the internet for a while, you already know there’s an eclectic blend of websites out there. Some are better than others. Some hurt our eyes, try our patience and make us wonder what on earth were the web designers and developers thinking. It can’t be denied that the digital landscape is quite colorful. In an ideal world we’d all come across sites that are fast, easy to navigate, and offer a seamless online experience with every click or tap.
It takes only a few seconds for people to decide if they love or hate a website. Needless to say, designing a professional website that performs well, meets all users’ expectations and doesn’t look like other websites crowding the internet is not an easy task, so web designers surely have their work cut out for them. There are a lot of elements that go into creating a perfect website, and web designers have to know how to combine them and find the right recipe if they want to achieve great results.
So here are some essential web design principles every self-respecting web designer should follow to nail each and every project.
Consider the website’s purpose
Every website has a purpose, and before you even begin dreaming about fonts and color schemes you have to make sure you understand what the website is about. Then you can work your magic and translate that purpose with the help of design elements, because users also have to be well aware of the website’s purpose from the very first click. So, you must adapt your design strategy to fit the purpose of the website and make sure this purpose is as obvious as an elephant in a china shop. If a user visits the website and starts wandering around like he’s on a strange planet, searching for clues that could let him know where he’s landed, you’ve failed the test.
Keep it simple
No one likes a crowded website, and that’s a fact. That’s not only because of aesthetic considerations, but also from a practical standpoint. Too many elements crammed on the same page will tire the eyes and can confuse the user. It might be tempting to use every single corner of a web page and fill it with content, images or other design elements, but the truth is, you should steer clear from this approach. Whitespace is extremely important when designing a website as it can draw focus on important elements, improve readability, and tie everything together. So, a clean and clear look and well-organized content is always better than a busy and chaotic website.
Ensure smooth navigation
Good websites never play hide and seek with their users. That means everything on the website should be as straightforward as possible, so users don’t stop and think what they should do next. They should find what they’re looking for with ease. All elements on the website should be self-explanatory and guide visitors in the right direction, ensuring a smooth and seamless navigation. If the navigation is not intuitive, visitor retention will be low. Clients expect quality website design services from a professional web designer, to help them build a site that will support their needs, not one that will chase users away.
Create a visual hierarchy
Not every element on a website is equally important. Some elements rank higher in the hierarchy than others, so displaying them in the order of importance is logical. Visitors shouldn’t be met by minor details on the first page of a website and then be forced to look for important information in other places. Everything must be arranged in a logical order, so the users know what they have to do from the get-go. This can be achieved by using whitespace, fonts, colors and other visual elements the right way. When used correctly, they can draw focus to the most important elements on the website and convey the right message to users.
Make it fast
Bigger, better, faster, stronger. That’s what’s expected from a website nowadays. But let’s focus for a second on the faster part, because we’ve all got a need for speed when visiting a website. To put it simply, the load time can make or break a website’s appeal. It really doesn’t matter if the site looks amazing and checks all the other boxes, if it takes eons for the pages to load nobody is going to notice anything else. Most visitors will take their business elsewhere if they have to wait more than 3 seconds, so you’ve got to speed up your site if you want it to stay in the race.
Focus on responsive design
Gone are the days when the only way internet users could surf the world wide web was to stand still in front of a bulky computer. Now we’ve got mobile devices that accompany us everywhere and give us the possibility to navigate the digital landscape whenever and wherever we please. That’s why neglecting responsive design is one of the biggest mistakes a web designer could make. A website has to be displayed correctly and look great on all devices, so optimizing websites for mobile use is an absolute must these days.
Creativity is good as long as you don’t go overboard with it. That means you shouldn’t use a website as a blank canvas where you can put all your creative ideas into practice. Once you’ve established a concept and decided on the visual elements to use for it, stick to them throughout the website. Using the same style and the same color scheme on every page of the website will create a sense of consistency that will bring everything together. Trying to incorporate design elements from different stories can make a site look chaotic and unprofessional, so it’s better to embrace the less is more approach.