5 Design Tips to Make Your Website Stand Out
If you’re interested in creating or improving a website, you should be familiar with the principles of effective web design. Following these principles will make your website more attractive while also providing a huge boost to your site’s traffic.
The principles of good web design include simplicity, website purpose, creating content sections, hierarchy, and font choice. While these are the core pillars of strong web design, there are a variety of details that make up a good website.
Whether you are starting a blog, storefront, or even a homepage for your business, you will want to know everything you can about the principles of good web design. Keep reading for an all-in-one guide to the core principles of web design and more.
Creating a Professional Website - The Principles of Web Design
Making use of effective web design can create a huge, consistent uptick in traffic to your site and also help build trust with potential clients or customers.
A professional and intuitive website can be the difference that turns prospects into customers and returning customers into brand loyalists.
However, poor web design can frustrate users and even tank your website’s ability to extract value and draw traffic.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the principles you should stick to in order to design a top level website.
What are the Five Main Principles of Web Design?
Deploying strong and effective web design means adhering to what are known as the core principles of web design.
While there are differing opinions on what the most important elements of web design are, we believe that there are five core pillars that form the foundation of all successful websites.
The five core pillars of effective web design are:
- Website Purpose
- Content Sections
Now that we have established the five core pillars of effective web design, let’s take a deeper look at the definition of each and how you can use them to build your ultimate website.
Keep it simple. Keep it clean. Those are words to live by in the world of web design.
Simplicity is arguably the most important element of successful web design.
Keeping your website simple in its design does not mean that your site should be barebones or devoid of creativity.
Instead, designing a simplistic website means that your site’s features and calls to action are easily understood and intuitive to all users, including those that are less experienced with technology.
With simplicity at the core of your web design philosophy, you will not have to worry about users complaining about the usability of your website.
There are a variety of ways in which you can make use of simplistic design for your website. Let’s take a look at a few of those methods now.
A properly designed and implemented navigation system is essential to retaining visitors and without one, your site cannot do its job.
In terms of web design, navigation refers to how a user interacts with your website and how they traverse from page to page.
Navigation buttons are often placed near the top or at the side of a webpage.
These buttons should be clearly and concisely labeled with their exact function.
For example, the button that brings users to the storefront of your website should be labeled something like “Store” as opposed to “Click here to view our products”.
Users should be able to immediately tell where all navigation buttons will bring them.
You also want to make sure that each page of your website is clearly titled so that users know where they are on your site at any given time.
Along those same lines, it’s a good idea to make sure that the homepage of your website is accessible from any page on your website.
Many sites accomplish this by using their company’s logo as a home button placed in the upper left-hand corner of all web pages.
Designing your website using columns (especially if your website features images of products or services) is one of the most effective ways to simplify your site’s approach to content.
The human brain is able to process information more efficiently when presented with a clear visual path to follow.
A grid-like structure has a clean and easy-to-follow look that makes for a better user experience.
A haphazard jumble of text and images will confuse and frustrate users but organizing your website with a grid structure is an easy way to avoid this while also maintaining a simplistic look and feel for your website.
Creating a website that makes use of grids sets you on the path to having a website that is not only visually appealing, but also one that is optimized for usability and functionality.
Appeal to Human Psychology
Whether we like it or not, capitalizing on the innate psychological biases of humans plays a huge role in web design.
Making design choices that are specifically targeted to appeal to a certain human emotion or bias is an essential practice in web design.
Design choices targeted towards human psychological biases often synergize with the core design pillar of simplicity.
A good example of this can be seen in the way color choice can have a remarkable influence on the behavior of website users.
Shades of the color green are psychologically linked to feelings of calm and content while shades of red trigger psychological connections to feelings of urgency or even danger.
Understanding color psychology will make you a better designer and that is true of so many aspects of human psychology.
The more you understand about how your users think, the more equipped you are to reach them with your message or call to action.
While it does not need to be directly stated on your website, it’s important to have the purpose of your website fully defined.
Maintaining a clear vision for what you want people to do when they come to your site is essential during all stages of web design.
Keeping the aforementioned “simplicity” pillar of design in mind, you want your site’s intention to be simple and clearly defined.
Every design choice you make should be in service of your website’s defined purpose.
For example, if the purpose of your website is to sell a product, all of your design choices should be made with the intent of funneling users towards making a purchase.
Developing Consistency in Your Design
Maintaining a consistent theme to your design is crucial when it comes to creating an appealing website.
Your website’s purpose is at the center of this consistency; all of your choices are informed by the site’s purpose so in theory, those choices should be consistent with one another.
For example, if you have made the decision to use a particular font for navigation buttons, all navigation buttons on all pages should appear in that font.
Maintaining User Attention With Website Purpose
A common rule of thumb in the world of web design is a user will leave a website within fifteen seconds if they cannot understand if the website is for them.
This is what makes having a clearly defined purpose for your website so crucial to a website's success.
Traffic statistics mean very little if your users are not actually interacting with the calls to action on your site.
Breaking your website into content sections is a fundamental skill in web design that most, if not all, of the most successful web sites use.
Content sections are exactly what they sound like; distinct portions of a webpage that feature some type of digital content such as text, images, video, or log-in box.
Separating a web page into different content sections is not only a way to organize your site, but also a way to add an impressive visual flair.
One of the best ways to separate content sections is by using different background colors.
Imagine a web page that features two content sections; a top half with text content and a bottom half with video content.
If the background color of the web page were to be one solid color, the page would read as one big section and would therefore be less attractive to the eye.
However, if you were to change the bottom half of the page to a black background, you would create a strong visual contrast that would clearly denote that there are two separate sections on the web page.
Further Reading: Mobile-friendly sites: your secret weapon to getting more customers
Think of hierarchy as the order of priorities for the design of your website.
The top of the hierarchy is the most important thing that you want a web page to communicate and each level below that is a step down in priority.
Adhering to this principle means that the different elements of your web page should be sized and shaded differently.
The most basic example of this principle in action would be making the title of a web page a larger size and bolder font compared to the standard text on the page.
Feeling stuck or overwhelmed with your design project?
What Determines Hierarchy in Web Design?
Hierarchy is determined by a variety of factors including feature size, brightness, color, contrast
Without a clear design hierarchy, your website is basically guaranteed to be confusing, overwhelming, or both of these things at the same time.
Establish a Focal Point
Your hierarchy of design should be based around one key focal point on each page.
The focal point is the feature of a web page that immediately attracts a user’s attention when they arrive on the page.
For example, if your website is focused on selling products, each product page should feature a large image of the product as the focal point.
In this example, things such as the title of the product and the product’s key features would be good choices for the next two levels of hierarchy.
Check out this video for more information on the importance of design hierarchy:
Proper font choice is at the core of all good design and that goes double for web design.
Making the right choice in terms of font may seem like a small detail and maybe even an afterthought for some, but in reality an attractive font could be the difference between users staying on your site or clicking off and potentially heading to a competitor.
On the other side of things, using the wrong font could immediately alienate a large percentage of potential users for your website.
Typography is another area where simplicity, the first pillar of web design, is applicable.
It’s best to stick with professional and easily legible fonts for your website.
It might seem like a good idea to choose a highly stylized font in the hopes of adding a touch of individuality to your website. However, this often results in text that is not immediately legible which causes users to leave the site.
This is an example of making your website stand out in the wrong way. Sometimes industry standards exist for a reason and using professional and legible fonts is not an exception to that rule.
We recommend choosing a formal font and then using different levels of that font to create a differentiation effect.
Bolding or italicizing text should be done sparingly, but both can have a really strong effect on the visual pop of your website’s text content.
Finally, we want to mention that while it’s important to stay professional with your font choice, do not be afraid to be creative in the way you use that font.
There are plenty of opportunities to let your artistic design run wild with text, just resist the urge to use flowery or gimmicky font types.
Further Reading: What Is Graphic Design and Why It Is Important for Every Business
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What Questions Should You Ask a Client for Web Design?
The first and most important question you should ask a web design client is what is their main goal they are hoping to accomplish with their website.
The reason that this question is so important is because the answer will provide the information you need in order to adhere to one of the core principles described above: defining your website’s purpose.
What are the Essential Skills for Web Designs?
Some of the essential skills for success in the world of website design are as follows:
- Design Software Experience
- Problem Solving
- Industry Research
- Understanding of UX Design
- Familiarity with the Principles of Design
What are the Three Main Parts of a Website?
The three main sections of a standard website are the header, the content section, and the footer.
The header often features the site’s title, logo, and navigation options.
The content section of a website is the main portion of a web page that features content such as images, videos, or text blocks.
A website’s footer usually features reference links such as email contacts and FAQs sections as well as legal and technical information.
What is the First Step in Web Design?
The first step in any web design project is always defining the goal of the project.
This ties into the answer for an above question as well as this article’s section on defining a purpose for your website.
To reiterate this important point, you need to have a clear vision of what you want people to do when they come to your website so that you can make design decisions that will cater towards that vision.
Feeling stuck or overwhelmed with your design project?
Adhering to the core principles of web design will improve your website projects in a massive way and give you the power to create websites that capture and maintain the attention of numerous web surfers.
The five core principles of simplicity, website purpose, hierarchy, content sections, and fonts are essential for top level website building.
While there are other principles for web design, these five are the core pillars that form a base for you to build your perfect website on.