10 Essential Principles for Good Web Design

30

Nov

2011

Bronwyn Murgatroyd
0 Comments

Applying the essential principles of good web design discussed below can help improve the performance of your website achieve its objectives.

Essential principles of good web design are important to turn your website into a powerful marketing tool. There is more to good web design than well-crafted content and an attractive web design. Factors such as usability, navigation and correct brand representation are equally important...

Applying the essential principles of good web design discussed below can help improve the performance of your website achieve its objectives.

Essential principles of good web design are important to turn your website into a powerful marketing tool. There is more to good web design than well-crafted content and an attractive web design. Factors such as usability, navigation and correct brand representation are equally important.

1. Correct use of White Space

White space is a general design term used to describe empty space on a web page. Web designers use white space effectively on websites to reduce clutter and improve readability. Use of white space also allows designers to strike a balance between different elements on a web page. In general it is recommended to provide sufficient white space between functional elements on a web page. In addition appropriate line spacing should be provided between text. Line –spacing on websites should be at least 1 and ½ times the font size. Similarly sufficient padding should be included between the text and rest of the elements.

2. Correct positioning of elements

The positioning of elements is important in good web design. A website may consist of many elements such as menu, login box, search field, enquiry form, Newsletter registration box, main body of text, and so on. Website visitors tend to scan the content on a website from left to right starting at the top left and then moving along the page. There are certain areas of the screen that draw more attention than others. In good web design, the positioning of elements should take this into account.

3. The correct visual design

Design is a vast field. Above all it is relative to situation and needs. Web design that is suitable for one company may not be suitable for another. A mock up should be created to start with. A design package like Photoshop is ideal for this. It will be easier to manage changes at this level than when the website has been built.

4. Correct Font

Font or typography is vital to good web design. There are many choices available and the selection should be given due consideration. There are multiple issues to consider. The correct font size, font type or font face, font colour, line spacing and letter spacing are some important issues to consider. Colour and behaviours of links, size and colour of headings, style of bullet points and lists are some other related issues that should also be taken into account.

5. Consistency

Consistency between pages of your website is an important principle in web design. Slight variations in layout or positioning of elements may be necessary to implement e.g. homepage may have a different layout to the rest of the pages. However by and large, the entire website should appear consistent. This is also important for branding. Most websites today use a content management system or a blogging platform, which utilise a template system for displaying content. It is much easier to maintain consistency between pages as the same template can be applied to all pages. Consistency between different elements within the same page is also important e.g. the same font type should be used in all elements of a page.

6. Navigation

No matter how attractive the design of your website is, you are likely to loose customers if they are not able to find their way on your website. There are many ways to improve navigation. Menu should be positioned prominently on the page, above the fold. Top, left or right columns work well. If you have a large website, consider having separate menus relevant to different sections of the website.

In addition to menu, elements like breadcrumb are important as they tell a user where they are currently allowing them to retrace their steps if required. Including a sitemap can also prove to be an important navigational aid for your visitors.

7. Usability

Usability is one of the most important principles in web design. There are many ways to improve the usability of your website. As far as possible each page should be less than two clicks away. Search box should be easily accessible. In order to improve usability, you need to understand the mindset of your target market. You should understand the needs and expectations of users who visit your website. You should then make it as easy as possible for users to get what they want, whether it is buying a product or requesting more information.

8. Structure

The information on your website should be organised into appropriate sections. A well planned information architecture or structure ensures information is easy to find and it is easy to navigate through the website. Many factors need be taken into account when planning the structure of the website. Users do not like to scroll too much so the content on each page should be limited to a few screen sizes at the most. It helps to divide the content into appropriate sections and categories.

Look at Sony’s example below. Although it is a large website, content is divided into few main sections, making it very easy to use.

9. Use of Contrast

Contrast is equally important in good web design. It makes the content more legible. A high degree of contrast should exist between the content and its background. As a general rule if you are using a dark background, then use light colours for your fonts and images. Similarly on light background websites, dark font colours stand out more.

10. Call to action

One of the main purposes of your website is to improve sales or leads. This can be achieved through effective call to action techniques. Good web design takes this into account. Correct positioning of call to action elements in also important. Call to action are elements on a website that encourage users to perform some action. It can be anything from completing an actual sale, making an enquiry or registering for your newsletter.


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Bronwyn Murgatroyd


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