10 Web Design Principles Every Designer Needs to Know

This article was written by guest author Carmen Docampo, a hobby photographer and passionate content writer

Web design is a lot like art. It’s fairly subjective, and people may respond to certain designs in different ways. There is no one way to design a website that will guarantee that it speaks to 100% of your target audience and gives you exactly the conversions you want.

However, there are several design principles that can help improve your chances of creating a website that will have plenty of appeal to the right people.

1. Don’t Push The Structure Too Far Outside The Box

It can be so tempting to try something completely new and different in your design. This is generally not a good idea because websites need to be functional in a world of ever-shortening attention spans. Users will click away if the structure of the website doesn’t immediately make sense to them.

This isn’t to say that you can’t have some fun and include a few original features or designs. Just ensure that the overall appeal of the website surprises and delights and is user-friendly.

2. Make CTAs Accessible

The call to action (CTA) on a website is a critical part of the design. This is where you tell the user what you want them to do on the website—sign up for the newsletter, buy a product, convert into a customer or any other step that could lead to a conversion down the line. CTA links or buttons need to be obvious to the user, easy to spot on the page, and the wording used to promote the action must be clear and concise.

3. Don’t Offer Up Too Many Choices

It’s so important to have a clear focus for a website and know exactly what you want the user to do when they land on it. If there are too many choices such as different sections of information, multiple calls to action, or complex navigation, it’ll be difficult for the user to understand what they should be looking at, reading or clicking on.

4. Remember The F And Z Patterns For Eye-Tracking

Studies have shown that we generally tend to read information on a page in one of two patterns—an F or a Z. In both patterns, the user reads the big headlines across the top of the page.

In the F pattern, the user then scans down the left of the page, looking for subheadings and bullets to understand what information is available. The eye then scans outwards to look for bold words or important details.

In the Z pattern, the eye looks at the heading and then scans horizontally down the page to the left side. The user will pick out any bold or highlighted points in that motion, and then scan back to the right at the bottom of the page to find the call to action.

5. Keep Content In Easy-To-Read Sections

Having too much detail on a page can overwhelm the reader if it isn’t broken down into sections. You need to have headings, subheadings, blocks, bullets, and other ways of dividing up the content into sections that are easy to digest.

You can also use the F or Z patterns to help with the placement of those sections, especially if you have a lot of information to get across on one page.

6. Put Items That Are Related Together

To ensure that your website is logical and easy to follow, you should definitely aim to group your content and pages together in ways that make sense. For example, on a brand’s homepage, you can have sections for a company description, the types of services or products offered, where the company is based, customer testimonials, and contact details.

Careful groupings will help the user to immediately identify what the website is about and how to get what they need out of it. This is the same technique that retail shops use in the real world where they group products together in categories to make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.

7. Use White Space Consciously

White space or negative space is the area of the design where nothing is happening. There are no images or text in those spaces. Of course, white space doesn’t have to be white in color, it just needs to be empty.

The reason negative space is so important is that it gives the user space to breathe and helps to draw the eye to the important details on the page.

8. Be Conscious Of Web-Friendly Fonts

Website design can be tricky because you have to consider how the design will look on multiple screen sizes. One of the key elements to think about is the font or fonts you use.

These fonts have to be what is widely considered to be web friendly. These include Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica and Courier New. If you have an elaborate cursive font that’s part of the brand identity, only use it where it’s easy to read, such as in the main heading.

9. Always Remember The Target Audience

A website is a marketing tool, and it needs to speak to the target audience of the brand, or person that the website is marketing. This means you need to use that target audience to influence the choices for color, copy, font, CTAs, images, etc.

It isn’t just about what looks good and what makes sense for general design principles. You have to make it work for the target audience, too.

10. Keep Your Design Concept Consistent On All Pages

A website needs to be thought of as a whole. You can’t use completely different designs on each page or the user will get confused and their experience won’t be cohesive. This means sticking to one color palette, one font choice, and one overall layout. Even the spacing and use of white space need to be consistent.

Stick To The Principles For Your Website

The overall aim of website design is to create a site that showcases the content in the best possible way for the intended target audience. It doesn’t matter what the site is marketing; the point is to communicate a point clearly, and in a way that’s easy to understand. While there’s no exact one size fits all solution, using these universal principles will set web designers on track and lead to the best possible results.

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