Five simple steps to great web design
WE'VE ALL come across websites that are so badly designed that they are uninviting and unreadable. No matter how interesting the topic or how well written the content might be, no one is likely to read it. Intelligent web design, on the other hand, invites readers into the site, encourages them to stay, and conveys the website's message clearly.
It is easy to implement great web design if you understand a few key principles.
Here are five tips that can make all the difference in making a site inviting and easy to read.
- Make your main message stand out
Your design should immediately make it clear what the leading item on your page is. The item should be significantly larger than anything else on the page. So much so, that it dominates the page. It should be the one item that you want your readers to view first.
A cluttered site that is a collection of items that are all more or less the same size confuses readers. They are not sure which to read first and soon give up and often fail to know what the website is all about.
- Your website should be "boxy"
Think of each of your website pages as a collection of boxes, some big, some small and some in between. These boxes should relate to one another in a unified whole. Their tops and bottoms should line up where applicable and their edges should be a consistent distance from each other or join together. They should look like building blocks. Fill these blocks with text, images or anything you like. See example below.
- Never divide a page in half
A page that is divided down the middle, whether horizontally or vertically, is not pleasing to the human eye. We are not sure why this is true, but it remains one of the most important principles in web design. The same principle works for photographs, for brochures or for any kind of design for that matter.
- Think in thirds
Instead of dividing your page in half, design it using thirds. You can create columns, place images and draw boxes. For example, you can create columns that are two-thirds of the page on one side and one-third of a page on the other. See the example on this page to gain an idea of how to design a page using the principle of thirds.
- Use color sparsely
Avoid the temptation to place color all over your pages. Use it to draw attention to certain items you wish to highlight. Using color photographs or illustrations is often all the color you need on a page, but they can be supplemented with the occasional use of colored headlines or other highlights.
If you use color as a background, make sure it is light. It is easier to read black text on a light background than white text on a black background. The reason is that our eyes are accustomed to reading black on white, whether that be in books, newspapers or on signs.
Select only two or possibly three colors to use on your website as highlights. They should complement one another.
Above all, your website pages should be uncluttered and clear, providing a pleasing look to the eye. Don't be afraid to use white space.