10 Principles of Great Web Design

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Web design has come a long way. It’s 2021, and today, users care more about site usability and utility than visual design.

This makes sense. Users are the ones actually ‘using’ the website, so the shift to user-centric and utility-based design is only natural.

In this article we will be looking at the main principles and approaches behind awesome design.

When used correctly, these can help you make better design decisions!

Principles of great web design

Before we begin, we need to understand users – how they think, and what makes them happy.

What users think

Website users aren’t that different from customers in a physical store. They’re still looking for the same things – just online. They want:

Quality and credibility – the webpage they are on must provide high quality content. If it doesn’t, they leave immediately.

Instant gratification – users want information, fast. If your webpage isn’t designed that way, they will leave. It’s that simple.

Control – nobody wants windows and items popping up unexpectedly. New windows and pop-ups are a bad idea.

Additionally, web users aren’t that great at following designs. Most web users tend to:

Scan, not read – most web users tend to look at only some sections of a webpage.

Not make optimal choices – people tend to click the first link they like – hoping it will take them where they want to go

Follow their intuition – again, users don’t read. They simply follow their intuition.

Armed with the following information, here are 10 tips for awesome design:

1. Don’t make them think

When you make a site, it’s your job to remove any question marks. Krug’s first law of usability says a web-page needs to be obvious, and self-explanatory.

2. Make it quick

Don’t hide any features or information behind long forms or actions. Give users what they need super fast. They will be more than willing to reciprocate.

3. Focus attention

Like we established earlier, users only look at certain hotspots in the screen. Images and videos are more eye-catching than text, and the human eye is trained to instantly recognize certain features over others.

4. Expose features

Let the user see and experience very clearly all the features that are available on your site. No point in making them look for it.

5. Use effective writing

Short, simple sentences. BIG BOLD HEADINGS. That’s it. Really.

6. Keep it simple

Nobody visits a site to look at great Web design. Not even designers. Everyone wants information, despite the design.

7. Let the white space be

White space is good. Repeat that after me. White space is good. It helps reduce cognitive load and makes it easier to focus on the important stuff.

8. Use ‘visible language’

There are three principles of visible language:

  • Organize your content
  • Economize – only keep what’s necessary
  • Communicate and make it simple

A good rule of thumb is to use a maximum of 3 fonts across 3 sizes ONLY.

9. Conventional works

There’s no need to try out anything radical. Sure a menu bar at the bottom may look great, but users don’t expect to see it there. Give the users what they expect.

10. Test early and often

The TETO principle will help you save a ton of time and a bad migraine. Test early, test often and remember, don’t fix what isn’t broken!

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