As Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” And it’s true. A simple website with great usability and well thought-out structure usually performs better on Google and has more user views than a beautiful website with a poor UX. And performance is closely connected to the effectiveness of a website.
All of us here support the idea that a combination of both factors – a beautiful look and a great usability – makes a website effective. Let’s check out the top 10 principles of effective web design that any developer should keep in mind while creating a website.
1. Purpose of each element
In a good design, each element should be weight and measured before being placed in the layout. A website’s page is limited by a screen size and scrolling. So you can’t afford to waste the precious space for unnecessary and useless decorations.
Each website page should also have a clear purpose and help your visitors to find what they need. Each button, navigation menu, contact form etc. should lead your visitors exactly to their goals without confusing them. It helps to build a strong brand-client relationship.
2. Clear and conversion-focused structure
In case you run an E-commerce website, conversions should be your top priority. Focus on making your design conversion-focused. But it doesn’t mean you should put everywhere those ugly red and flashy buttons crying “Buy now!” and “Click here!” Rather, you should organize website elements around your goals and guide a customer through sales funnel in a friendly manner.
If you have CTA elements on your website, they should unambiguously tell the user to perform a certain action. Leave no room for guesswork to your visitors, especially if you run a conversion-oriented website. CTA elements should take a user from point A to point B in no time and exactly where both of you expect.
3. Design consistency
Your design elements should match throughout each page. It means your headings, subheadings, fonts, button styles, and sizes – everything should be the same look and feel everytime they are used. Think out each detail in advance. Choose the right colors and fonts for your texts and buttons. If you have chosen rounded edges for your images and buttons – then stick to this decision through the entire website.
A good idea is having CSS stylesheets to keep the entire info about design styles and elements. This will keep you from remembering each element name as well as specific tags and attributes.
4. Intuitive navigation
Navigation is a core element of a website structure. Nothing can upset a user more than a twisted navigation when they can’t understand where to go or where they already are. So you should pay a proper attention to the website structure and effective browsing.
Consider what information should be put on a separate page because of its utmost importance. But don’t try to create pages for every single piece of info since it can be really confusing. Create multi-level navigation menu with keywords – it helps people finding what they need faster. Don’t forget to add a sitemap. It’s essential not only for search engine spiders but for ordinary users who wish to explore your website more.
5. F-Pattern design
Adhering to natural reading pattern allows website owners improving both, website usability and conversions. Most studies claim that F-shaped pattern when the eyes scan the text starting from the upper left corner to the right one is that most natural way of reading for people. It is connected to the writing tradition for most western languages.
Heat maps from user’s eye-tracking studies. Credit: Nielsen Norman Group
Following the F-pattern, you should arrange the most important info on the top left part and on the bottom right. It helps drawing users attention to it.
6. Grid-Based Layout
Randomly placed images, pieces of text, buttons, and forms all over the page leave users frustrated. Proper alignment of the website content of the page helps to avoid the mess and organizing it in a more user-friendly way. It helps users to get the info your website provides without efforts. It makes the website design more elegant and comprehensive.
Grid-based design allows organizing content in solid blocks of texts, images, buttons and other elements, that provide one general idea. It makes the website structure more organized and logically structured. In terms of responsive design, it becomes easier to arrange those conceptual blocks on smaller screens.
7. Color palette and imagery
Web design pays high attention to color combination and color psychology since it can attract users as well as turn them away. That’s why you should carefully select colors for your website’s color palette to create a proper atmosphere and get a proper impact on your visitors.
Improve your website’s UX by picking up complementary color palette to create a balanced look. Vibrant colors spur emotions and can push users to perform various actions on a website. Don’t forget about white space use – it saves your design from visual clutter and mess. And don’t overload your design with lots of colors – choose up to 3-4 tones for the entire website.
The same is with imagery: don’t clutter your design with tons of vibrant images. It may be good for food and restaurant WordPress themes that should include bright and mouthwatering photos of dishes that the website promotes. Or for a photographer’s portfolios. Weight the use of each photo and its place in the design layout. Choose videos only when it’s necessary.
8. Typography and Readability
The text is still one of the most vital elements of the website in terms of providing users with the info. It is essential for SEO since search engine crawlers understand only this data perfectly. Aside from a wise use of keywords, meta-data and other SEO-sensitive characteristics, you should take care of making your typography visually attractive and readable for users, not the machines.
Modern sans-serif fonts as Arial, Helvetica etc. are considered easier to read, so they’re often users for the body text. You should select proper combinations of typefaces for body text, headlines, buttons and other design elements. And choose proper size and color for your fonts to make them readable on different screen sizes.
No website design can be effective if it is not adapted for different screens such as smartphones, desktop or tablets. The idea is simple: you either have a responsive design that helps users browse your website from their mobile devices, or lose. There are plenty of web design studios or service centers that can help you to turn your desktop design into a mobile-friendly one.
10. Loading speed
The last but not the least principle. Users hate when it takes more than a few seconds to load a page, no matter on a desktop or on a smartphone. You should take care to make your design light and lightning-fast to keep those visitors who already landed on your website.
These are the essential principles to make a website design effective. There are more details you should always keep in mind to create a good design. But without this base, you won’t go too far. Only with a user-friendly and conversion-focused design you can think of monetization. If you’re ready to take this second step, then read this detail-loaded ebook about how to make money on the Internet and try to use the knowledge on practice.