Website design is such a subjective topic as it is quite difficult to exactly define what makes a good web design. Website aesthetic is usually the first thing that visitors notice since our brains are wired to respond positively to anything attractive, but a web design needs to also be functional for it to be useful.
As it is essentially a platform for presentation, there are some web design principles that is commonly observed that will make your visitors stay longer and convert them as customers.
Avoid the clutter
The easiest way to disorient your visitors is to bombard them with a deluge of graphics to the point where their attention is turned away from the actual message you’re trying to convey. Keep your design easy on the eyes by making sure that CTAs (calls-to-action) in each web page do not compete with one another and don’t overdo animations and images. Reducing the options on the header and footer will help streamline the user’s attention.
Right use of colors
Choosing visually appealing colors is just as important as using the right colors for your website. Pick at least two to four base colors for branding and design. You can also use lighter or darker shades of these base colors to broaden your color palette options when needed.
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Graphics doesn’t have to be fancy to be interesting but it shouldn’t be understated either. Remember that good photos create an emotional connection to the written content. You don’t even have to be an experience photographer or artist. All you need is some basic skills in Photoshop and great sources of professional photos or stock images that are relevant to your website content.
One of the most important elements of a great website design is having intuitive navigation system that makes searching for information easy. Navigation buttons should be simple and easily identified (usually found at the top part of the web page).
Tips to make navigation more intuitive:
- Keep navigation options to a minimum. You don’t want to confuse users with too many options.
- Add a search box on the website so visitors can just search using keywords.
- To help visitors on their navigation trail, you can use a site map, sub-headings and bread crumb trail.
- It’s best to keep navigation to at most just three levels deep.
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White space (also known as negative space) refers to an empty space around and in between page layouts and page elements. Many considers it a waste to not use up every available space there is but white spaces actually allows visitors to focus more on the content and improves user experience. They can make layout less scattered, emphasizes readability and creates a feeling of elegance and sophistication, especially for upscale brands.
Make it readable
To make fonts more readable, it should work on different browsers and across different devices (many people are now browsing sites using their mobile devices). Font size should be no less than 11pts.
The use of bullet points, section headers and shorter paragraphs is highly recommended to help organize text, encourage people to read (or scan at least) and go straight to the point without going into all the fluff.
Don’t use Flash
It might be tempting to use Flash animations to create some pizzazz to your website but this strategy could prove to be bad for usability. If you need some animation, another good alternative to Flash is HTML5 which is supported by most major browsers.
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Keep elements consistent in every page
When your website is able to invoke comfort and trust from users, they are more likely to transition into your valued customers. One way to do that is to maintain consistency in the elements as users move from page to page. This allows the user to have the same experience all throughout the site. Links, buttons, page titles, descriptions should maintain a consistent look which establishes a visual identification and branding for your website.
Creating an outstanding web design is not only limited to its aesthetic aspects but usability, readability and accessibility also have significant roles to play. By following these guidelines, anyone can create visually appealing design that your end users can enjoy.