It’s easy today to create a beautiful website. Simply sign up to one of the many free website builders and in minutes you can have a sleek web design and attractive looking site.
You would be excused in thinking that this is an effective web design. But the fact is, although a website may look good, it can be far from functional and suited for the user’s needs.
Generic, non-tailored websites that aren’t designed with your particular end-user in mind are the antithesis of effective web design. Effective web design is determined by users and their experience of a website.
This brings many factors into website design that go way beyond mere aesthetics. Great web design is about the usability of a website, or in other words, the combination of form (how good it looks) with function (how easy is it to use).
Since your site is also the face of your business and the place many potential customers will visit first, you want it to give off a positive impression about who you are and what you value. What’s more, poorly-designed websites don’t tend to perform well on Google, not least because of high bounce rates and low conversions.
Ensure your website gives your customers the right impression and ranks high on the search pages with our top five principles of web design.
1. A clear purpose
Every well-designed website caters for the needs of its users. And the best way to make a website that caters for users is to have a very clear purpose.
Web designers ensure every site, page, and section they work on has a clear and definitive purpose that it aims to address. This could be anything from providing information and offering entertainment to allowing a type of interaction and completing a transaction.
Crowded and over-designed websites don’t work. When there are too many elements on one page, it only leads to distraction and confusion. Great web design, like this example from Helias Oils, is therefore not only clean and simple but purposeful and built to fit directly in line with what the user wants.
2. Speedy load time
Even if every aspect of your site has a clear purpose, if it takes too long to load, then it’s all but useless to the user.
The problem is, in our culture of little time and an abundance of choice, if a website doesn’t load pretty much instantly, very few users stick around to wait.
Thankfully, to meet these user expectations, there’s no shortage of tools and tricks designers and website owners can use to improve the loading time of their sites.
Despite text taking up much of the space of a website and reading being one of the main activities users do online, typography is often overlooked for its impact on the overall success of a website.
If your website gets the basics of typography right, then it is well ahead of most. First, Sans Serif fonts—contemporary looking fonts without decorative finishes—like Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana, are easiest to read online.
The ideal font size is 16px. It’s also recommended to stick to a maximum of three-point sizes for a streamlined design. Similarly, it’s best to use no more than three typefaces across headings, body, and elements like buttons.
An excellent example of a clean and streamlined typography design is Channel 4’s website. The site sticks to just a few font families and colours, and in doing so, keeps the user’s focus directed to the video content for which they are there.
As well as following the basics of typography, an important principle of web design is clear and consistent communication.
Users want information quickly, and so no matter the medium, your message has to be straight forward and easy-to-digest. For instance, for menus and graphical elements, this involves organising information hierarchically, and for content, it means making good use of bullet points and subheadings.
As you can see, improving the communication of your website isn’t always about adding more information. The best websites get across what they need to in as few words and elements as possible.
The website of Headspace, the most popular guided meditation app, is a great example of effective communication. Through using mainly graphics and bold colour, its homepage manages to convey what the app does and who it is for without saying more than a handful of words.
5. Mobile friendly
Responsive design used to be optional for effective web design. Today, if your website is not available across multiple devices and multiple screen sizes, it’ll struggle to not only attract users but also rank well in Google.
To make your website mobile-friendly, the easiest place to start is from scratch by rebuilding it with a responsive layout. Otherwise, you can create a dedicated mobile site that is separate from your main site and specifically optimised for mobile users.
With the growing use of smartphones, tablets, and now phablets, making your website fit for mobile users is a must. From there, you can further enhance your design by following best UX and UI practices for mobile design.
Web design is an ever-evolving field. But if you put these five web design principles into practice today, your website is sure to perform well through 2020 and beyond, so contact us today to see how these five principles can improve your website.