My Top 10 Principles of Good Web Design
So what are the top 10 principles of good web design? By all accounts, computer legend Steve Jobs was a piece of work – just read his biography ‘Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson’. Ill tempered, manipulative and a bully, working with him was something to be endured, not enjoyed. But let’s leave this aside for a moment and focus instead on his genius as a marketeer.
Jobs was not the main man behind the technology that drove Apple to become one of the world’s leading brands – Indeed, I am writing this on an Apple iMac – that was Steve Wozniak. But it was Jobs keen marketing streak that brought the first Apple computer to the market and kept the brand there to this day.
Thankfully, I don’t behave like Steve Jobs. But I believe that we can learn a lot from him when it comes to good web design. So here’s my best shot at the top 10 principles of good web design.
Good web design always caters to the needs of your end-user. Decide from the outset whether your web visitors are looking for information, entertainment, some type of interaction, or to transact with your business – or all of the above? Every page on your website needs to have a clear purpose and cater for the needs of your end user in the most effective way. If there is one thing Steve Jobs had at Apple, it was purpose!
Your website visitor tends to want information immediately, so it is important to communicate clearly, and make your information easy to read and digest. Some effective tactics that I include in your web design include: organising information using headings and sub headings, using bullet points instead of long winded sentences, and getting rid of the chaff. A principle deployed to great effect by Apple at every product launch.
In general, Sans Serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana are easier to read online (Sans Serif fonts are contemporary looking fonts without decorative finishes). The ideal font size for reading easily online is 16px so I stick to a maximum of 3 typefaces in a maximum of 3 point sizes to keep your design streamlined. And boy, didn’t Steve Jobs just love typefaces!
A well thought out colour palette can go a long way to enhance the user experience. Complementary colours create balance and harmony. Using contrasting colours for the text and background will make reading easier on the eye. Vibrant colours create emotion and should be used sparingly (e.g. for buttons and call to actions). Last but not least, I use white space/negative space as it is very effective at giving your website a modern and uncluttered look. Even as a child, the Apple Logo made me want to take a bite out of it!
A picture can speak a thousand words, and choosing the right images for your website can help with brand positioning and connecting with your target audience. I recommend getting good professional photography for your website, your people and your products. The alternative is purchasing stock photos to lift the look of your website. Also I recommend using infographics, videos and graphics as these can be much more effective at communicating than even the most well written piece of text. Remember Steve Jobs use of imagery in that now infamous ad for the first Apple Computer?
Navigation is about how easy it is for people to take action and move around your website. Some tactics I use for effective navigation include a logical page hierarchy, using bread crumbs, designing clickable buttons, and following the ‘three click rule’ which means users will be able to find the information they are looking for within three clicks. You’ll have no difficulty navigating your way around an Apple Device!
7. GRID BASED LAYOUTS
Placing content randomly on your web page can end up with a haphazard appearance that is messy, causing your visitor to flee rather than explore. Grid based layouts arrange content into sections, columns and boxes that line up and feel balanced, which leads to a better looking website design.
8. “F” PATTERN DESIGN
Common sense this one, but eye tracking studies have identified that people scan computer screens in an “F” pattern. Most of what people see is in the top and left of the screen and the right side of the screen is rarely seen. Rather than trying to force the viewer’s visual flow, effectively designed websites will work with a reader’s natural behaviour and display information in order of importance (left to right, and top to bottom).
9. LOAD TIME
10: MOBILE FRIENDLY
It is now commonplace to access websites from multiple devices with multiple screen sizes, so it is important to consider if your website is mobile friendly. So if your website is not mobile friendly, you can either rebuild it in a responsive layout (this means your website will adjust to different screen widths). Or you can build a dedicated mobile site (a separate website optimised specifically for mobile users).
Needless to say, Helicon Design builds only mobile friendly – or responsive- websites. Get in Touch now for a free consultation on taking your online presence to a whole new level.