Top 10 Principles of Good Web Design

In the era of ever increasing technology, it is now more important for businesses to have an online presence than ever. What's more, a professionally designed website will have a huge impact on your business. There are many design elements that go into making a really good website that will give your brand a powerful image.

Aside from the obvious aesthetically pleasing appearance, a well designed website is more than just a pretty face, it has great usability, clarity and will always tend to the requirements of the user. After all, the effectiveness of a website's design will be determined by it's users, not the owner.

Good web design practises include the following ten key elements:

Embrace White Space

White space, or negative space, will give your website a modern look and emphasise your products or content.

Don't clutter pages with excessive graphics and annoying animations just because there is some empty space available to put them. Taking the 'less is more' approach will direct the main focus of your visitors to what you are actually trying to achieve through your website. For example, if you have an eCommerce website, the attention should be on your product images.

Handy hint: A good way of freeing up some space on your website is to remove any old social media sharing buttons that you don't use anymore.

Use Colours Effectively

Colours should be strategically used for the design rather than decorative purposes.

A good place to start with choosing colours is your logo, which will most likely interpret the colour scheme throughout the whole website.

Don't use too many colours, instead go for a modest colour palette that will compliment your content.

It is also not a good idea to choose your own favourite colours just because they are the ones that attract you the most. For example, not everyone is a lover of parrot green! Instead choose colours that are relevant to the theme of the website. Such as blue for a website that has something related to water.

Images and Photos 

Break up paragraphs of text and keep readers engaged with eye-catching photos and imagery. It is great if you have the ability to take your own unique photos for your website. However for those pictures that are not so easy to get hold of, there are plenty of websites where you can obtain completely free stock photos that can be used even for commercial purposes.

Choose Fonts Wisely

Typefaces should be easy to read and consistent throughout the website. Don't go for more than two or three fonts and choose ones that are web-safe, so that it is highly likely that they will be available to other people accessing your website from other computers. Otherwise, while the text will look fantastic from where you are sitting, but some other random font will be showing up almost everywhere else for people who's computers don't have that particular font file.

Easy Navigation

A good website is one that is easy to for users to find their way around. Adhere to the Three Click Rule so that anything on the website can be reached in no more than three clicks and also set up a good page hierarchy with breadcrumbs and clickable buttons, so users can move around the website with ease.

Be Fast and Furious

Visitors to your website will quickly abandon it and go elsewhere if your pages are slow to load. The quicker the website loads, the better. Speed up loading time by optimising image file sizes and combining excessive code into central CSS and Javascript. Slow loading websites do not rank well in search engines either.

Organisation is Key

A disorganised website will put visitors off, use a grid based layout to present your content tidily and effectively. Also display your most important content in accordance with your viewers natural reading habits, by following the F pattern. Research shows that people view what's on their screen from left to right, and from top to bottom.

Search Engine Friendly Design

Optimise images by reducing the file sizes so that they load quickly, and add alt tags to them which contain keywords that are important for people searching for your kind of website.

Use text to provide information that is important to your website in terms of search results too, as it is still the best form of content which is understood by search engines. If all of your information is displayed in the form of graphics, Java applets or old-fashioned Flash files, then search engines will not be able to read it and your website may not come up high in search engine results for vital keywords.

By not using heavy code and large file sizes, your website will be quicker to load, more search engine friendly and give an overall better user experience.

Communicate with Images

Wherever possible instead of words, use icons which are attractive and easy to understand. Such as a magnifying glass icon for the search feature or an envelope icon for being contacted.

Infographics are also a great way to present information to your viewers. An eye-catching, well designed infographic has a stronger influence and will be more persuasive to your target audience. It will give visitors something which is easy to understand and remember as well as driving more traffic to your website, as infographics are great for search engine optimisation and people are more likely to share them and link back to your website.

Be Mobile Friendly

It is now commonplace to have a responsive website designed to look it's best even when it loads on other devices such as tablets and mobile phones, as well as on the usual notebook and desk top computer screens. Around 80% of adults own a smartphone and you can miss out on a lot of business by not having a website that automatically resizes itself to load on a smaller screen. Having a mobile friendly website will give you the edge over your competitors who may still have an old school website and vice versa.

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