Imagine walking into a retail store to look for some new work clothes. You notice stains on the floor, disorganized shelves, and a strange odor as you look around. Would you stay in the store and buy from the retailer?
Store design influences how customers behave — the same is true of websites.
A survey of 612 people by Clutch found that 83%of participants notice when a website’s design is aesthetically pleasing and up-to-date. Alternatively, 50% of participants would leave a website forever if they believe the content is irrelevant or doesn’t meet their needs.
So, how do you design a website customers will like?
That’s what this article is all about. We’ll show you why good web design is essential and share 15 web design principles you can leverage to build a high-quality website.
Check Out Our Video Guide to Web Design Principles
Why Is Good Web Design Important?
The average web designer earns $57,000 annually— about $8,000 more than junior web developers who average $44k annually. Designers are compensated reasonably well for a good reason: their work is vital.
When a new lead visits your website, it sets the first impression that shapes their future interactions with your brand. It is at this point that they develop their first opinion about you.
Your website also conveys your brand’s identity, vision, and position within the industry. If you have close competitors with a similar product, a website that makes people say “wow” will make you more memorable and boost your brand awareness above the competition.
Additionally, a strong website can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Search engines consider how people respond to websites when ranking them in search results. If your bounce rate is low and people frequently visit multiple pages on your site, search engines will likely rank you higher than a competitor with a high bounce rate.
Technical SEO is also important here. Websites with well-designed titles, page structures, and links are more accessible. Thus, search engines and customers alike favor them. Let’s take a look at some important web design principles.
15 Principles of Effective Web Design
When we refer to “web design principles,” we refer to general rules for designing the textural and visual elements of a website or web page. Every brand embraces web design principles differently — some in line with best practicesand others not.
To help you craft an excellent website, here are 15 web design principles (plus examples of websites that use them effectively):
1. Pages Should Be Easy to Navigate
In Clutch’s study into user experiences on websites, 94%of participants viewed website navigation as the “most important website feature.”
It’s no surprise why. If a search engine user comes to your website looking for information on “mobile design” and can’t find it, the natural next step is to click “back” and try another website.
How do you embrace well-planned navigation? Draw inspiration from The Cool Club’s website.
When you enter the Cool Club’s homepage, the website’s layout is extremely clear. You can navigate to key product sections (like “card games” and “bucket list”) using the buttons on the left-hand side, and you can navigate to the “about” and “contact” pages using the buttons on the right.
The Cool Club’s product pages are also very easy to navigate. The brand currently has an interactive card deck that features 54 cool variations and corresponding pages. You simply scroll down and click on the card you want to see more of.
To create a similarly effective website, sort content into clear categories for your headers and footers and give them descriptive titles. Then, order your pages by topic, so people can navigate between similar topics easily.
Additionally, make your header and footer consistent throughout your website.
2. Always Leverage Negative Space
Negative space (or “white space”) is the region around the subjects of a page, whether they be images, videos, text, or buttons.
Many enthusiastic marketers rush to fill every free space on a page, hoping that giving visitors more information will get them more engaged. However, this often results in overwhelming and confusing pages.
That’s where negative space comes in. Using negative space emphasizes the most critical elements of each page, as the lack of color draws the visitor’s eyes to brighter areas.
Of course, “use negative space” doesn’t mean “create a boring white website.” Instead, you can leverage space using your brand colors, just like Garoa does.
Garoa’s homepage uses a cream-like palette to build ambiance while still leveraging negative space. The result is that your eyes go to the introductory content in the “skincare for autumn” section in the center instead of the less important parts.
Make sure to leverage white space to showcase hierarchy in your own website.
3. Pages Should Be Consistent, But Engaging
When you read brand names like “Cadbury,’ “Hershey’s,” or “Nike,” the vision of their logos, fonts, and design styles likely comes to mind immediately. That’s the power of consistent branding.
When designing your website, craft pages with consistent elements to give your brand a clear visual identity. That means:
- Using the same fonts, styles, and colors across headers
- Keeping spaces between visual elements the same between pages
- Using color palettes instead of random colors
- Setting layout guidelines for long-form content like news pieces and blog posts
- Using a website template for all pages
Consistent pages don’t need to look completely uniform. Instead, you can balance consistency and engagement by mixing up elements.
For example, you can use different fonts and colors for H1, H2, and H3 headings. Or, you can alter the layout of different types of pages, to mix things up.
4. Embrace Complementary Colors
Complementary colors are pairs of colors that you can mix without making your design look overwhelming and ugly.
The way colors display on a screen follow the Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) color model rather than the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) model used in printing. Painters also often use the Red-Yellow-Blue (RYB) color model that considers complementary colors to be red-green, blue-orange, and yellow-purple.
No matter which model you prefer, using complementary colors achieves a similar purpose to black and white. Complementary colors provide emphasis and create a clear visual identity for your brand.
You can see this on Swab The World’s website.
In the screenshot below, the blood cancer charity uses green and shades of magenta. These colors change to other complementary color combinations when you visit different website sections (though all the colors have similar saturation, so the branding remains consistent).
Complementary colors are an easy principle to use in your design. If you want to keep things simple, select two complementary colors and add them to contrasting elements (like an H2 and body text). Or use multiple shades of each color on each page.
5. Design With Your Target Audience in Mind
If you look at The Cool Kids, Garoa, and Swab The World’s websites, you may notice that each website has a unique “feel.” That feel comes from tailoring the design of the website to the audience.
Personalization is the ultimate goal here. Most of us like to buy products and services from brands we feel aligned with and represented by. In fact, research shows that 72%of consumers value purchasing from companies that “align with their beliefs and values.” So, if someone visits your website and sees their values, goals, and priorities reflected there, they are more likely to purchase from you.
To personalize your website design to your audience, consider:
- What images resonate with your target market, specifically
- What tone works for your audience (for example, professional, minimalistic, bubbly, etc.)
- What topics your target market comes to your website to see
- How you can convey your brand positioning through your web design
- What calls-to-action (CTAs) your audience responds to (and where you should put them to optimize your click-through rate (CTR))
Bonus points if you can use website automations to deliver a personal experience based on the user’s profile and previous interactions with your brand.
It might be helpful to draw inspiration from competitors or brands that sell different things to your target demographic.
6. Fonts Should Be Readable And Accessible
The fontsyou use on your website determine whether your visitors can read what you wrote or not. Safe to say, they are very important.
The first thing to consider when selecting a font is web safety. Web-safe fontsare supported by operating systems and web browsers, so they’ll work on most devices.
You also need to consider accessibility. Accessible fontsshould be clear and easy to read at large and small sizes. For example, cursive-based fonts aren’t very accessible, while Times New Roman is fairly accessible.
Additionally, watch for trends of fonts on other websites when selecting a font. In 2021, data scientist Michael Li analyzed the fonts on over 1,000 websites. He found the following trends:
- 85% of fonts don’t use serifs (the little added lines to letters in newspaper type)
- The top five fonts include Sans Serif, Arial, Helvetica, Helvetica Neue, and Roboto
- H1 headers have a 58% probability of having no serifs (compared to 93% for paragraph text)
- The two most common sizes for paragraph fonts are 14 px and 16 px
You might choose to embrace this information to select a font style that adheres to what people look for in websites. Or, you might choose to do something different.
Virgin is a brand that chose the second option. Virgin used at least five fonts in the screenshot below. These fonts separate sections of the page and make them look engaging.
7. Follow Fitt’sLaw and Hick’s Law
Psychologist Paul Fitts first developed Fitt’sLaw in 1954, but it’s still highly relevant in web design in 2022. Fitt’sLaw argues that the size of a target influences how much time it takes someone to reach it.
In a web design or User Experience (UX) context, this means that it’ll take people less time to click larger buttons or more time to click smaller buttons. So, to leverage Fitt’sLaw, you should make your CTA buttons extremely large and prominent so that they are easier to click.
“Easy” is crucial here. Hick’s Law, developed by British psychologist William Edmund Hick and American psychologist Ray Hyman, says that people become fatigued every time they decide something.
So, the more decisions you ask a website visitor to make, the greater the chances they’ll become too fatigued to follow through.
8. Use Invariance To Highlight Key Information
When something’s “invariant,” it stands out as a unique option from several very similar options. The most obvious example of invariance is the highlighting in plans on pricing pages like this one from Box.
But that’s not the only way you can use invariance. Invariance can help you establish a visual hierarchy on your pages to highlight key information and draw people to important parts of your page.
For example, take a look at how the Frans Hals Museum used invariance to create a visual hierarchy on its homepage:
The hierarchy in this image is as follows: the “welcome” sign, the images, the “buy tickets” sign, the “all exhibitions” sign, then the other content.
To use invariance to create your own hierarchy, rank page elements in order of importance. Then, adjust each element’s size, color, and placement until visitors’ eyes go to each element in the order you want.
9. In CTAs: Use Clear Language People Will Want To Click
We touched on the importance of making your buttons large and easy to click, but size isn’t the only thing you should consider when creating buttons.
Clickable buttons are descriptive and persuasive at the same time. They make the visitor curious about what the button links to, and they give them a reason to go there.
One way to do this is to use detailed button text like “click here to read our blog,” “find our marketing secrets here,” or “here’s our 2022 report.” Another is to make your buttons visually exciting or unique.
RainforestProtector took both approaches. Rainforest Protector allows you to navigate the Amazon rainforest by visiting different locations. Each location’s button includes an image and an action like “visit the village.”
10. Leverage The F Pattern Or The Z Pattern
Over 13 years, researchers from the Nielsen Norman Group (NN Group)used eye-tracking to see how 500+ people engage with content. This led them to develop the F pattern, which says the first thing people do is scan down the page, then they read in left-to-right lines. Like this:
You can leverage the F pattern on your website by structuring your content around it or an alternative model.
Facebook famously uses a Z-shaped pattern on its homepage. When you visit the page, your eyes go to the “Facebook” logo, then the “login” button, then to the image on the left, and finally to the “create an account” button.
11. Good Websites are Fast and Mobile-Friendly
As of the fourth quarter of 2021, 54.4%of website traffic globally came from a mobile device. So, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you could halve your traffic.
Speed also influences organic website traffic. Research from Google shows that 53%of people leave a website if it loads in more than three seconds.
The easiest way to make your website mobile-friendly or fast is to choose a fast website thememade by expert designers. Or, if you want to be more involved in your website’s design, you can custom-build a responsive website.
That’s what the designers behind the 1917movie did. 1917‘s website delivers an immersive experience to get people invested in the movie. It’s specifically designed for mobile devices, as you can use your finger to move around in the trenches of World War One.
If you’re observant, you’ll notice that 1917’s website also leverages the F pattern.
12. Break Text Into Bite-Sized Chunks
Consider this: you search for “mind games” and find a webpage that seems promising. However, when you click on it, you’re overwhelmed with large chunks of text that are difficult to read.
Like many people, you may click off the website (no matter how promising the content!).
Eye-tracking research from the Missouri University of Science and Technology shows that website visitors spend an average of 5.59 secondsreading text. So, if people can’t consume your text in that timespan, it’s unlikely you’ll engage them properly.
Fix this issue by dividing your text into small chunks. Additionally:
- Use short sentences
- Stay away from colloquialisms
- Provide definitions for any industry-specific words you use
- Avoid ‘purple prose’ (unnecessary metaphors, adverbs, and adjectives)
13. Use Grids
When we say “use grids,” we don’t mean that you should make your website look like an Excel table. Instead, divide your website into distinct sections that serve a specific purpose so visitors can quickly locate content.
You don’t need to use grid lines to do this. Instead, create distinctions between grid spaces with color, negative space, and shading like Atlason did. Atlason’s homepage features new and best-selling products in grids. As visitors are likely looking for these products, the grids help them find them in seconds.
One of the easiest ways to use grids on your website is to select a WordPress themethat uses them. Examples include Gridframe, Masonry Grid, and Shuttle Grid.
14. Remember Balance
In the context of web design, “balance” refers to the way design elements sit in relation to each other and whether the elements portray harmony. There are many ways to create balance on your website, including some of these web design principles:
- Through symmetry (including bilateral, radial, or translational symmetry)
- Using complementary or contrasting colors
- Using elements of similar shapes and sizes
- Using repetitive patterns
You can see balance in action on Woven’swebsite. This website uses a balanced color palette, black and white to create contrast within the text, and symmetry to draw visitors’ attention to the content.
15. Pay Attention To Details
Gestalt theory says that people perceive something as a whole before looking at individual elements. Or, like Kurt Koffka said: “The whole exists independently from the parts.” Though people usually reference Gestalt theory regarding psychology, it applies to web design too.
You need to pay attention to the small details on your website to ensure your design looks polished and complete. When designing something, it’s easy to focus on important elements like headings, images, and CTAs and forget other things like:
- Footer and header icons
- Social media buttons
- How effectively you converted your website to WordPress(if applicable)
- Text spacing
- Typos and grammar errors
- Browser compatibility
- Image sizes
Double-check these elements before hitting “publish” and ensure your website conveys professionalism. You may overlook minor flaws, but visitors won’t.
Additionally, keep up-to-date with new trends and concepts in web design principles. Adding these to your website will keep it looking new, fresh, and engaging.
A well-designed retail store enhances the customer experience, while a poor one could forever put customers off your brand. It’s the same with web design.
Building a visually-appealing website is more than just a fun project. It can help you:
- Convey professionalism
- Build trust with your visitors
- Stand out from your competitors
- Draw in organic traffic from search engines
Leverage the web design principles in this article to build a website that makes visitors say “wow.”
Now that we’ve covered everything we know about web design, we’d love to hear from you. What do you notice when you visit a brand’s website? Additionally, do you use any principles we haven’t mentioned on your website? Please tell us in the comments below.
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15 Web Design Principles for a Customer-Friendly Website? ›
By following the principles of user-centered design, responsive design, accessibility, web standards, usability, and visual design, web designers can create websites that are successful and engaging, and that provide value to both users and businesses.What are the top 10 principles of web design? ›
- Less is More – Simplicity Rules.
- Innovative but Not Distracting.
- Aesthetically Appealing – To the RIGHT Users.
- Respectful, Honest, and Engaging.
- Designed for Usability and Functionality.
- Cohesive in Design, Down to the Details.
- Easily Understood.
- Design Elements Inspire Users to go Deep.
- A clear purpose. Every well-designed website caters for the needs of its users. ...
- 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. ...
- Typography. ...
- Communication. ...
- Mobile friendly.
- Listen to Your Users.
- Speed It Up.
- Provide In-Depth Information.
- Make Navigation Intuitive.
- Choose Color Carefully.
- Improve Your Site Layout.
- Pay Attention to CTAs.
- Beef Up Your Contact Page.
By following the principles of user-centered design, responsive design, accessibility, web standards, usability, and visual design, web designers can create websites that are successful and engaging, and that provide value to both users and businesses.What are the 5 elements to a good website design? ›
- 1) Content.
- 2) Usability.
- 3) Aesthetics.
- 4) Visibility.
- 5) Interaction.
There are twelve basic principles of design: contrast, balance, emphasis, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, movement, variety, and unity.What are the 13 design principles? ›
The elements, or principles, of visual design include Contrast, Balance, Emphasis, Movement, White Space, Proportion, Hierarchy, Repetition, Rhythm, Pattern, Unity, and Variety.What are the 7 basic principles of design and layout? ›
Emphasis, balance and alignment, contrast, repetition, proportion, movement, and white space are the cornerstones of the principle of design.What should the website have to attract customers? ›
- Implement a strong SEO strategy. ...
- Include a call to action. ...
- Enable self-service. ...
- Include social sharing buttons. ...
- Don't forget the business basics. ...
- Think visual. ...
- Create a positive user experience. ...
- Keep it updated.
What makes a good customer experience on a website? ›
Make sure your navigation is clear and easy to understand and that your website is designed to make it easy for customers to find what they need. You might also want to consider offering features like online chat or a customer support number so that customers can get help if they need it.How do you create a user-friendly design? ›
- Keep the interface simple. ...
- Create consistency and use common UI elements. ...
- Be purposeful in page layout. ...
- Strategically use color and texture. ...
- Use typography to create hierarchy and clarity. ...
- Make sure that the system communicates what's happening. ...
- Think about the defaults.
The 5 principles of web usability. Web usability can be broken into five key principles: availability, clarity, recognition, credibility and relevance.What are the 5 core design principles? ›
Summary: The principles of scale, visual hierarchy, balance, contrast, and Gestalt not only create beautiful designs, but also increase usability when applied correctly.What are the four C's of website design? ›
First C of Four Cs in User Experience Design
Consistency. Continuity. Context. Complementary.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) This component is very critical to your website's online visibility. ...
- UI and UX. ...
- Branding. ...
- Customer engagement.
There are 10 principles of design in total! They're also known as the elements of visual design, and are: movement, balance, contrast, proportion, repetition, rhythm, variety, emphasis, harmony, and unity.What are all 9 of the principles of design? ›
The main principles of graphic design are balance, contrast, emphasis, repetition and pattern, proportion, movement, white space, unity, and variety.What are the eight 8 common principles of design? ›
- Alignment. Making sure the elements of any design are aligned is essential. ...
- Hierarchy. Hierarchy means putting your design's most important message or purpose front and center. ...
- Contrast. ...
- Repetition. ...
- Proximity. ...
- Balance. ...
- Color. ...
Start with the six principles of design: balance, pattern, rhythm, emphasis, contrast, and unity. Just as instructional design models and methodologies shape your training strategy, so should these principles shape your basic visual strategy. By applying them, you can create high-impact visuals.
What are the 8 principles of design and layout? ›
The 8 principles of design are fundamental to creating visually appealing and effective designs. These principles are balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, proportion, repetition, and unity.What are 8 of the elements and principles of design? ›
All visual designs are composed of eight elements (Point, Line, Shape, Form, Tone, Texture, Color, and/or Text). These elements are combined and arranged to create a desired visual appearance.What is the golden rule web design? ›
Gold Ratio in Web Design
The golden ratio is also expressed as 1:1.61. First, you need to decide the length of the small element. Then multiply it by a golden ratio which is 1.618 and the result will be the perfect length of the bigger element. The process is designed to help with proportions.
It is a constant journey that can be made better every day, which involves understanding the client's requirements, knowledge about the target audience, market research, planning, design, development, testing, and maintenance.What is the 7 +- 2 rule in web design? ›
The background to this is some research from the 1950s by George Miller at Princeton which shows that we can store about seven chunks of data in short-term memory. He suggested that some people can store more and some people can store less. That's why we get the plus or minus two part.What is principle 7 design from patterns to details? ›
The principle of designing from patterns to details means starting with primary designs and recurring forms. These can be found all around us – in nature, in our relationships and in our workplace. Take a step back, observe these patterns and consciously acknowledge them.What is unity in 7 principles of design? ›
The Unity Principle of Design states that design elements should be both visually and conceptually harmonious.What are the 7 visual elements? ›
ELEMENTS OF ART: The visual components of color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. may be two-or three-dimensional, descriptive, implied, or abstract.What are 4 ways to attract customers? ›
- Ask for referrals. ...
- Network. ...
- Offer discounts and incentives for new customers only. ...
- Re-contact old customers. ...
- Improve your website. ...
- Partner with complementary businesses. ...
- Promote your expertise. ...
- Use online reviews to your advantage.
Almost everyone (94%) says easy navigation is the most important website feature. Most people (83%) appreciate when a website looks attractive and up-to-date. Half of website users (50%) will leave a website permanently if the content is irrelevant. People value product descriptions and visuals equally.
What are the 3 main components of customer experience? ›
The three main components for creating a customer experience strategy are discovery, engagement and delivery.What are the 3 attributes a customer experience? ›
Essentially, the 3 important qualities of customer service center around three “p”s: professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude. Although customer service varies from customer to customer, as long as you're following these guidelines, you're on the right track.What are the 7 qualities of good customer service? ›
- 1- Maximize your Interactiveness. ...
- 2- Collect the maximum of Feedback. ...
- 3- Create a Good Exposure. ...
- 4- Build Inclusiveness. ...
- 5- Be the Top of Mind in Communication. ...
- 6- Have Transparency. ...
- 7- Always Do More than Expected.
Make Your Product Simple
Multiple choices make people indecisive, stressed, and they prefer to leave instead of dealing with a wide selection. A user-friendly product does not overwhelm customers with options, it focuses on one main idea. Everything else can be left for further user touch points.
Producing user-friendly content means creating text that is accessible and easy to understand. It doesn't matter how engaging, informative or witty your content is if it isn't readable.What is good user experience design? ›
Good UX design means thinking like a user and providing a clear pathway to aid users in achieving goals when interacting with the product. Managing the user experience involves an 8-step design process: Interview stakeholders to understand user behavior and constraints and identify pain points.What are four 4 designing principles while designing the website? ›
Space: In web design, this is often referred to as "white space," or the area between elements. Hierarchy: The importance of some elements in respect to others. Contrast: How different elements can create a more cohesive composition. Scale/Proportion: The relationship between the size of elements.What are the four 4 web design principles *? ›
Effective design centres on four basic principles: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity. These appear in every design.What principle of web design principle applies where the website should use high quality pictures that follow the rules of third? ›
Rule of Thirds
It's a good idea to use images in your design. A visual communicates your ideas much faster than text. The best images follow the rule of thirds: An image should be divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines.
There are twelve basic principles of design: contrast, balance, emphasis, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, movement, variety, and unity.
What are the 6 types of principles of design? ›
Start with the six principles of design: balance, pattern, rhythm, emphasis, contrast, and unity. Just as instructional design models and methodologies shape your training strategy, so should these principles shape your basic visual strategy. By applying them, you can create high-impact visuals.What are the 4 basic principles of design and layout? ›
"Proximity", "alignment", "repetition" and "contrast" are regarded as some of the basic principles of layout design, and are effective techniques for improving visual hierarchy and readability, thus leaving a strong impression on the user.What are the four stages of web design? ›
So, web design process at RubyGarage includes four major phases: project discovery, ideation and information architecture, user interface design, and testing and evaluation after launch. Let's go deeper into what each phase includes and what deliverables you'll get.What are 3 things you need to decide before starting a website? ›
- Choosing a Domain and Host. ...
- Backend Services (CMS “Content Management System” / Software) ...
- Clean Design. ...
- Effective Color Scheme. ...
- Branding. ...
- Functionality. ...
- Navigation. ...