Introduction

An effective web design should fulfil its intended purpose whilst engaging its visitors. Good web design doesn’t come easy, and rules need to be followed from a usability and aesthetics POV to successfully convey a message and convert those clicks into leads and sales.

In this article, we’ll explain what design principles are and why you should follow them when creating your website.

1. Web Design Purpose Sets The Foundations

All websites are designed with a purpose in mind. For service-focused businesses, this could be letting your customers know who you are, and the services you provide. We, for example, are a service-focused business. As a digital marketing agency, our core business is service-led. For eCommerce owners, on the other hand, the purpose would be to promote online purchases.

From brand storytelling to lead generation businesses, every website has a core purpose and the first principle of good web design is being able to capture and display the intent of your website.

Understanding your target audience and user intent will help you solidify a marketing strategy that sets you above your online competitors. The purpose is the first principle of a good web design and arguably the most important.

2. High-Quality Content That Meets The Audiences Needs

A well-designed website which doesn't bring in traffic is like a piece of art that's locked away and rarely seen. Design elements are crucial but if your web pages aren't filled with high-quality content, the web design and development side of things become a bit meaningless.

How do you drive traffic to your website? By understanding your target audience and ensuring your content is clear, useful, and guides the visitor towards the action you want them to take. The mistake a lot of website owners make is not understanding their target audience and filling their website with system-orientated phrases.

For a website to speak the user’s language, SEO should be planned and woven directly into the content. Rather than guessing what phrases your target audience types when searching for products and services you may provide, utilising an SEO agency that can carry out keyword research and provide you with a data-first approach to organic growth can make the difference between a piece of art that is never seen versus a website that is not only user-friendly but also captures, engages and converts.

3. Visuals For The Win

Be it photos, illustrations, or other forms of graphics such as icons or transitions, visuals help break up a web page, making it easier to scan and digest content.

Visuals should always be high-quality whilst capturing the spirit of the brand it represents. Do this correctly, and it will not only transform the design of your website but will also promote professionalism and credibility in the user's eye.

NB: The caveat with using high-quality visuals is that they are larger and directly impact performance and search engine optimisation. Good web design agencies will utilise next-gen image formats whilst also correctly resizing and compressing.

There's a fine balance between UI (User Interface Design) and UX (User Experience Design), however, using correct optimisation methods should resolve these potential issues.

4. White Space Creates Balance

The correct use of white space can help to break up long-form content, whilst ensuring everything is easily digestible.

Also referred to as negative space, this design element stops the message you’re trying to convey from becoming a design mess.

You’ll notice that most modern websites utilise the use of white space within their website designs. From Nike to Apple to smaller brands, it’s an easy-to-use method to stop elements from being cluttered creating distractions.

5. The Science Of Colours

Colours evoke emotional responses. Choosing the right palette can influence your customer's behaviour. Thankfully, there are free tools out there such as Coolors which make the job a bit easier.

It’s worth researching the psychology of colours before starting to create your colour palettes as different colours evoke different emotional responses. Have you ever wondered why a lot of banks use blue as their primary website colour? Because it instils trust, security, and stability. Likewise, a lot of web design agencies will use Purple because it demonstrates creativity.

Once you’ve created a colour palette, you can start to test different shades of those colours to see which converts better. You may be surprised to find out that even at this level of adjustment, the impact can be significant to your business.

In a famous experiment, Google tested 50 shades of blue on their advertising links. They served 1% of customers one shade of blue, and another 1% a different shade of blue. Using these A/B tests, they managed to increase their revenue by $200m per year by simply adjusting their colour palette.

This is an extreme case due to the number of visitors they receive every year, however, colours combined with A/B tests can have huge impacts on a website's conversion rates.

6. Typography

It sounds simple, but we’ve seen a lot of websites over the years that use less than ideal typography. There are not a lot of rules to follow here, but the main ones are that typefaces should be legible, and websites should use a maximum of two different fonts.

Digital design is an elusive craft and selecting a typeface is only the beginning when it comes to typography. Line height, weight, size, and colours all have consequences on creating a pleasant reading experience.

It’s difficult to guide on these elements as things like text size will depend on the font chosen, and line height will depend on the size of the font. There’s a lot of trial and error, but to keep things simple, stick to the basics and always test.

7. Consistency

Consistency is key. From fonts to colours to image sizes, consistency is key in creating a website that promotes trust and builds a brand. Plan everything in advance. Make sure to keep heading sizes, buttons, or any other element the same across all pages and stick to this design principle throughout the development process.

As with most things, it sounds simple but there’s nothing worse than a website that doesn’t seem uniform throughout. It’s not a design mistake you’ll see on well-known brands, however, is one that is common for smaller websites.

Ever seen an eCommerce store that looks different once you get to the checkout? Those sites have horrific conversion rates, and you don’t want yours to be in the same category.

8. Navigation

Having clear and easy-to-use navigation makes finding products and services easier. If your website’s navigation is structured well, your audience will spend more time on your site, and you’ll be one step closer to converting those clicks into revenue.

If, however, the navigation is confusing, your visitors will go elsewhere. Keep your navigation simple, intuitive, and consistent.

Bonus Tip: At the bottom of every website is a footer. Traditionally, website owners will place navigation links within their footer to the most helpful resources.

This is your last opportunity to encourage your visitors to look at certain pages of your website. Do you manage an eCommerce website? If so, this is an ideal place to advertise those sales, most frequently used categories and products.

9. Performance Matters

If you've ever looked at your Google Analytics bounce rate and wondered why your visitors are leaving rather than browsing, the answer could be in the performance of your website.

We live in a world where we expect web pages to display fast. Various case studies on performance have been carried out over the years, and Google uses speed as a direct ranking factor.

The general rule is that you need to aim for any webpage to load within 3 seconds. If it doesn't, not only will your bounce rate be higher than desirable, but you'll also find that over time it will negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Performance optimisations are an article in itself as every website is different. From correctly optimising media to more advanced techniques such as minification and caching.

There are a lot of free tools out there that will measure the loading speeds of your website using a range of devices. The most important one is mobiles using a 3G connection. Why? Because this is what Google uses to determine your mobile loading speeds, and it's this benchmark that has a direct impact on your mobile and desktop rankings.

Measure, optimise and repeat. Performance should be a metric that you take very seriously for several reasons.

10. Mobile Responsive

With over 50% of all traffic originating from mobile devices, having a well-designed layout on mobile is crucial from a usability POV, to how your website will appear within search engines. Another direct ranking factor, and one that doesn't need to be explained in depth.

Most websites are mobile responsive, however, we still see sites that are not. As above, using Google Analytics will give you insights into what devices and browsers your audience is using when browsing your website.

The chances are, that most of your traffic is coming from users using their mobile phones. Make sure to correctly optimise your website for mobile ensuring you utilise mobile-specific elements.

Closing Notes

These simple rules will guide you to a successful website design. From storytelling to eCommerce stores, these principles will help you design better, more engaging websites.

Award-Winning Digital Agency

Based in Hereford, we provide web design, eCommerce development and digital strategies in the form of monthly SEO services that increase user engagement and provide added business. Call us on 01432 483163 or send us an email.