Present day, web design has crossed its borders of caring for the aesthetic appeal of a website and is heavily leaning toward usability improvement. A famous quote by Steve Jobs incarnates this shift better than anything: ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works’. So, in modern web design, it’s all about being user-centric, pleasing and usable as users vote with their feet.
In this article, we’ll examine the 10 top principles of effective web design that you should stick to when crafting your one-of-a-kind web presence.
Principle #1: Simplicity Rules
Simplicity in design is – at its most basic – the removal of all unnecessary elements from a design. This usually consists of a clean layout, a two or three-color scheme and lots of negative space. A clean layout features a few stand-out elements but largely relies on the color scheme and negative space to create the drama and interest.
If you want your website to be simple and loved by users, keep in mind the following principles when designing it:
- Trim away all that’s redundant. Everything on your website should serve a certain palpable purpose. Each element of the website should either reinforce its aesthetic appeal or usability, better both. If an element ‘X’ doesn’t seem to make a difference in any way, just get rid of it.
- Keep It Simple Stupid (also known as the KISS Principle). Once you’ve got rid of everything unnecessary, you’ve got to polish what is left to perfection. Make your content and points as clear and perceptible as possible to get the largest audience following you. At the same time, you shouldn’t lose your zest and idiosyncrasy, ensuring that what you create is zany and fresh.
- Create Simplicity Mindfully. Simplicity of your website should go hand in hand with usability. If you strip some useful functionality away, you’re hardly making the lives of your clients simpler. On the other hand, if you sprinkle in some useful functionality, such as an appointment booking feature, interactive schedules, enhanced search forms, etc., this is how you make the lives of your clients and their interactions with you simpler.
Principle #2: Speak To The RIGHT Users
You can’t create the website that appeals to every human being on Earth. If you cast the web that’s too wide, many fish will escape and the net will return empty. So, in order to avoid such a situation, you’ve got to adapt your website design to the needs and tastes of your target audience, i.e. those who are most likely to go for your services and products.
To speak to right users, you’ve got to first learn who they are. To accomplish this task, take the following steps:
- Examine your current customers;
- Research the competition;
- Analyze your products or services;
- Create buyer personas;
- Choose demographics to target;
- Choose personal characteristics to target;
- Evaluate and revise your segmented audience.
Once you know your target audience inside-out, you’ll know what are the triggers and strings that you’ve got to pull to get them interested, following you and converting into your customers at a pleasing rate.
Principle #3: Usability and Functionality Go First
As mentioned earlier, present day, the usability of your website and its usefulness outweigh its aesthetic appeal. The question is how you make your website truly usable to your clients? Below we bring you a checklist of crucial website usability aspects that you’ve got to take into account:
- Create a strong user interface. Do not waste the time of your users with fluff. Build a strong website, where every next section is tied with the previous one and connects to the next one. Stay consistent with the messages you deliver and make sure you aren’t repeating oneself in any way.
- Make your navigation usable. Turn the structure of your website into a strict hierarchy, where every element is placed logically. The less complex it is to navigate your website, the more users will get what they need.
- Don’t neglect search usability. Website owners often neglect caring for search forms on their websites. However, a search form not rudimentary and much needed to save users’ time. Moreover, usable search is vital for e-commerce. Here you’ve got to go an extra mile and create advanced search forms to allow visitors to refine their search queries through the selection of parameters such as price, brand names and reviews.
- Mind content usability. Carefully balance graphics and content in the right combinations depending on your target audience. Build logical connections between the pieces of content and avoid overcrowding your site pages.
- Make sure your site performs well. Slow loading speeds and impoverished performance drive users away and tank your position on SERPs. It’s critically important to keep your site’s loading time below 3 seconds. So, you’ve got to make smart plugin and theme choices that either don’t affect or enhance your site performance.
- Look for the functionality that would be really helpful for your clients. Hunt for the niche-related plugins that make your website really useful. Moreover, use plugins that provide for the overall enhancement of your site’s usability.
To make your life simpler, you can go for a premium website template that’s pre-packed with a number of UI and UX boosting plugins out of the box. For example, the usability-centered Monstroid2 theme provides you with a juggernaut plugin kit that has something for every modern website, including such acknowledged plugins as Power Builder, WooCommerce, Cherry Projects, Cherry Social, Events Calendar, Cherry MegaMenu, Events Calendar, bbPress, BuddyPress, Cherry Timeline, MotoPress Schedule, etc.
Principle #4: Handpick Visual Elements
The visual elements of web design can make or break your website. No doubt, you can find tons of great imagery on the web and display all this greatness on your website pages. However, if you want your website to be visually engaging to the users in 2018, you’d better go the other way around.
Limit yourself to high-quality imagery that’s really coherent with the text. Go for idiosyncratic images that capture users’ attention and stick to their mind. Moreover, actively visualize information you present by creating timelines, charts and infographics.
Principle #5: Emphasize What Matters Most
Modern web design lets you enhance your content with visual cues that help users better digest the content and head toward conversion. Simple visual cues that you’ve got to be actively employing for your pages and posts are:
- Font size
- Text color
- Highlighting and underlining
- Bulleted lists
These are the straightforward means that help you make your content more perceptible and show what’s important around there. In addition to this, you may use the more subtle cues, such as engaging micro interactions that divert attention to important elements. What’s more, make use of negative space to set the content you want to emphasize apart from anything else.
If you need a great example of skillfully employing visual cues for emphasis, check out the Wapuula Corporate WordPress theme. Its creators did a stunning job instilling emphasis and page rhythm.
Principle #6: Stick To Conventions
By sticking to conventions of creating websites in your niche, you get a great chance to deliver users what they expect, eliminating a learning curve. For example, if you run a small business website, users would expect to see such pages as ‘About’, ‘Services’, ‘Blog’ and ‘Contacts’ there. Then, they don’t have to spend extra time figuring out how things work on your website and can jump where they need right away.
Many fear that following conventions makes their websites trite. In fact, that doesn’t hold true. Following the conventions of data structure you gain users’ confidence, trust, reliability and prove your credibility. If you sprinkle some visual idiosyncrasy over conventions, you get a stunning website, browsing which feels familiar, comfy and exciting at the same time.
Principle #7: Make It Easily Understood
Confusion is not what users like. If you don’t manage to present your services and products with simple, transparent and unambiguous wording, many site guests will leave. You should know your target audience and write for its majority. Your target audience should understand every word, phrase, and headline without stopping for an extra second to grasp its meaning.
Here are a couple of tips to consider in this regard:
- Avoid industry-specific terms that are not in common usage.
- Avoid featuring dense and complex content. Shorter sentences and paragraphs make more guests reading your content.
- Make your CTAs transparent and easy to locate.
- Place critical conversion points above the fold, so that your site guests always have them handy.
Principle #8: Make Sure Your Site Design Is Cohesive
Your business has its unique personality that should permeate every element and detail of your website. That’s why it’s important to use the same styling and voice across all the pages and blocks of your site. This helps communicate the unique qualities of your business, making every element, down to the details, a reflection of your brand personality. That’s why there are no minor details in the design of your website. Just make sure all the elements of it play together and serve to support the appeal of your brand.
Principle #9: Engage Users in a ‘Human’ Way
Impacted by social media, users opt for brands that have a human face and voice. As a consequence, authentic photography nudges stock imagery aside. Moreover, brand voices are increasingly honest, straightforward and down-to-earth. For example, once you replace the CTA that says ‘find a solar installer’ with ‘put your roof to work’ CTA, you’ll see it driving way more engagement and conversion.
Principle #10: Test Early and Often
You can’t create a sound web presence without testing. There’s the famous ‘TETO’ principle that says: ‘Test Early, Test Often’. If you test early, you won’t have to lose a lot of your time and progress, and you’ll know that you move into the right direction. Testing often is important to make amendments along the way and build a website that pleases your site guests in every regard.
Congrats! You know the 10 top web design principles that make your website successful in 2018.
Keep them in mind creating your website or working on your next project. We wish you good luck in internalizing and applying them!