It’s not just web designers that notice a good-looking website.
First impressions are what truly separate the bad websites from the good ones, and more often than not, good web design is a crucial part of the equation.
It helps users to make buying decisions and overall evaluate your brand and product.
Understanding the principles of good web design ensures that your website stands out and attracts the attention of visitors, rather than scaring them away.
Pamper your visitors with jaw-droppingly good website design with these 22 web design principles.
Keep your website navigation simple
You want to pay close attention to your website’s navigation.
Navigation in the form of a site menu or breadcrumbs helps your visitors find their way around your website.
And remember that you can have fun with your menu bar: if you’re tired of the traditional top menu, opt for a drop-down or a sidebar, like in Dolly Ave’s case.
You want your overall navigation to be easy for your visitors to use – as well as to locate.
Have a logical page hierarchy
You should organize your pages logically on your website.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with a profoundly confused user who can’t figure out why they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Ideally, you should only have a handful of main page categories and then categorize the rest of your pages under these parent categories.
That way, you’re able to keep pages related to privacy policies and terms and conditions separate from your portfolio pages, for example.
Utilize the F reading pattern
Let’s face it – most readers online are skimmers.
And it turns out that the majority of us view a page in a viewing pattern that resembles the letter F.
In practice, that means that the human eye will first focus on the content at the top of the page, and then move down the page, keeping to the left.
That means that you want to include all the important information horizontally on top of a web page.
This way, you ensure that most visitors won’t miss what you’ve got to say.
Don’t forget the golden on-page ratio
We, humans, are visual creatures who love symmetry.
And understanding the web design principle of the golden ratio (the flawless symmetrical relationship between two different parts) helps to make your website look balanced.
Basing your web page design off the golden ratio and overall rule of thirds makes your design elements look easy on the eye.
Make negative space your friend
Negative or white space is important for your website design for two main reasons:
- It helps you create a proper visual hierarchy for your pages
- It makes your calls to action banners and buttons to stand out
When it comes to good web design, less is usually more.
You don’t want to over clutter your website and make it difficult for your visitor to do what you want them to do: subscribe to your newsletter, buy your product or book an appointment with you.
Just channel your inner Steve Jobs to create a design that Apple would be envious of.
Understand and use Hick’s Law
This design principle is based on William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman’s psychological principles of decision fatigue.
At its core, decision fatigue refers to the fact that the more choices you give to a visitor, the longer it takes for them to reach a decision.
In website design, Hick’s Law usually translates to not overloading your web design with lots of visual elements that require the user to take an action.
So, use your call to action buttons and banners sparingly for maximum effectiveness.
Put Fitt’s Law in action
Size really does matter in the world of web design.
Originally coined by Paul Fitts in relation to the theory of the human motor system, Fitt’s Law has become one of the central principles of UX and web design.
The idea of Fitt’s Law is to ensure that the visual elements in your design are large and closely positioned to the user.
This way they can be easily selected.
In Ecwid’s case, the bold and big headline and easily distinguishable call to action button make it easy to do what Ecwid wants you to do – to start selling on Amazon with them.
So don’t shy away from considerably bigger fonts for your calls to action and headers.
And using bright colors for buttons isn’t a bad idea, either.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
This one’s a given: most of us know already that almost half of the people online browse using a mobile device.
So make sure that mobile user experience is reflected in your overall website design.
Test all new pages well prior to publishing them, and use good design elements on the page that scale according to the screen size.
Have lightning-fast page speed
You might not realize it, but your website’s loading speed is one of the grounding principles of effective web design.
Since page speed has a direct impact on user experience and the bounce rates of your pages, it’s something you shouldn’t overlook.
Because let’s face it, would you want to wait around for a page to load? Chances are that you, too, would click away at the 3-second mark.
So take the time to do your homework: there are plenty of ways to increase your page speed with relatively little effort.
Pay close attention to call to action buttons
Your website is most likely part of something bigger.
Whether you’re a fully-fledged business or a freelancer looking for the occasional side gig, strategically thinking about your call to action buttons and how they fit into your overall web design can make a real difference in your bottom line.
Look at the language you’re using in your buttons, where they are positioned on your website, and where they lead the user.
A well-designed call to action path:
- Starts with a button that’s is easily noticed by the users
- Prompts the user to take action by describing how the action will benefit the user
- Makes it easy for the user to perform the desired action (subscribe to a newsletter, make an order, download content, tweet about it)
Pick the right hero image
It’s a cliche, but pictures speak a thousand words.
So choosing your hero images (the main visual at the very top of your pages) is just as important as it sounds.
You want to focus on high-resolution, high-quality and professional images that are related to your field of business.
Your images should demonstrate how your product or service is used, or tell a story about your brand and business.
Also pay attention to the colors: you want all images to fit within the overall web design of your website.
Use web-safe fonts
Effective web design pays attention to typography, too.
First and foremost, you want to be using web-safe fonts on your website – otherwise, you risk your design elements potentially looking completely out of place on a different screen.
Secondly, you should be using a type of font that’s easy to read on a computer or a smartphone screen (don’t forget, 50% of people browse mainly on their phones).
Sans serif fonts are in their element online: they are clear and simple typefaces conveying simplicity and minimalism.
Follow the Z pattern
This one may sound like something out Alice in Wonderland, but similarly to the F reading pattern, the Z pattern refers to the route the human eye takes when reading (left to right, and diagonically top to bottom).
And the good news is that the Z pattern is easy to use in web design.
First, remember to include all the key elements and information on the top horizontal line you want your audience to focus on.
Then, add any additional information on the diagonal line that your visitors might need, leading up to the call to action section.
And lastly, the bottom horizontal line should be the place for your call to action: be it an email address field for lead generation, or a button for a separate landing page.
Don’t underestimate consistency
Nothing puts users off more than inconsistency in web design.
So make sure that all elements of your web design are consistent with each other: from typography to colors and the overall visual look of your design elements.
A good rule of thumb is that if you could describe a section of your website as a user interface (meaning that external visitors can access it), it should look consistent with the rest of your website.
You can go above and beyond by using similar design patterns and elements across your social media accounts, too.
You’ll strengthen your brand and look like a rock-hard professional.
Use a complementary colour palette
The colors you’re using in your web design set the overall mood of your website and play their part in creating a memorable user experience.
A website that mainly uses pastels creates a completely different vibe to a site that relies on mainly darker tones.
You’ll get far by deciding on and sticking with a couple of different shades of a few complementary colors.
And as for calls to action, think about using a contrasting color to create a visual hierarchy on your websites.
Plus, you’ll have an easier time grabbing a user’s attention when the order now -button is a blaringly different color to the rest of the website.
Who’s your audience?
Your site design should always focus around and reflect your target audience.
A brand selling children’s clothing would use different colors, fonts, and images on their landing pages than a corporate law firm.
Thinking about your ideal customer is a good starting point for your web design.
Consider how this ideal customer would interact with your website layout: would they browse through all of your pages? Or would they prefer a one-page experience instead?
Once you have an idea of the types of factors your audience favors on a website, focus on adding these design features to your site.
Have a visual design hierarchy
One of the most important principles of good web design comes down to how logical your design is.
Sure, it’s important that your website is easy on the eye and original, but there should always be structure to the design.
That’s why it’s important to follow basic principles like:
- Positioning titles and headings at the top of the page (it’s impossible to not see the big heading on the home page of Crumbs and Doilies)
- Using shapes like squares and circles to frame different sections of a page (look at the different rectangles in yellow and white)
- Using icons and illustrations to convey meaning (a cupcake for shopping cart, a magnifying glass for search)
This way you’ll help the users understand your website, even if it’s on a subconscious level.
Using heat mapping tools can help you identify exactly which sections of your website get the eyeballs, and which ones nobody looks at.
Pay attention to details
Focusing on the seemingly insignificant things, like micro-interactions when you click on a button, or your footer text, can make the world of difference to your users.
So don’t just settle for proof-reading the text that goes up on your website and ironing out typos.
Instead, pay attention to the kind of icons you’re using, how your text is spaced out and how your error pages look like.
Adding those finishing touches will strengthen your brand and keep users on your site for longer.
User experience is king
One thing that will make or break your website design is how easy it is to use.
Your page design could be out of this world, but if your website visitors can’t find their way around your web pages, it’s not pulling its weight.
You want to make your website user-friendly and also guide web visitors towards the most important information on your site.
For Airbnb, that means getting people to book their next getaway.
For a consultancy, that could be the contacts section of your website – and an online store would want to get their users to make a purchase.
Think about using grid systems
Opting for a grid-based layout makes it easy to keep your site design tidy at all times.
Essentially, you want to think about your site as a grid and structure your content and any white space along horizontal and vertical lines.
This way, you’ll end up with a site that looks structured and well-balanced.
Plus, a grid-based layout encourages users to subconsciously use the F or Z reading patterns when browsing.
Drafting your content as squares on a piece of paper can help to fully embrace the principle of a grid.
Or, use a website builder with a built-in grid editor to make your life even easier.
Use no big chunks of text
When you’re designing a website, you want to keep your design aesthetically pleasing.
And a huge block of text is the exact opposite of that.
One of the most important principles of good website design is being economical with your words.
Usually, less is more – save the big paragraphs for a scholarly white paper.
And use bullet points to break down your text even further.
If you have to introduce a wall of text to your website (maybe your terms and conditions are thorough), make sure that these pages are not the first thing your visitors will see when they land on your website.
Make invariance your friend
Have you ever browsed around an online store and for some reason, the item that looked different from the rest caught your eye?
The principle of invariance is pretty simple: by having one option look different from the others, you’re automatically intrigueing the visitor to take extra care to check out the odd one.
Use invariance on your pricing page design to highlight the deal or package you’d prefer the users to choose.
Or add colorful ribbons to your product pages to highlight a sale or a new product line.
This way, you’ll break the general look of your product page, and make your users pay attention to the design elements that look different to the rest.
How to easily design a website following these web design principles
Here’s the deal: you don’t need to be a seasoned designer to create a website that looks good.
In fact, using a top-quality website builder makes it possible for anyone to create a site that follows all these web design principles.
Since you start by choosing a designer-made template that suits your website needs, half of the hassle of paying attention to things like mobile-responsiveness or SEO are already taken care of.
You’re left with the fun stuff, like:
- Mixing and matching colors and fonts until they reflect your brand and business objectives
- Creating text for your About us page, or any other page
- Picking images that best suit the design of your website
And since most website builders take care of technical aspects of website-owning, like web hosting and domains, you’ll be ready to publish your website in a matter of moments.
And how knows, maybe your website will be a rising star on our list of best website designs.