Effective web design is a lot like a well-built home. It can look majestic on the outside but if it is not structurally sound and liveable, it will not be habitable. What I mean by this is that the quality of a website does not rely solely on how it looks, but rather its usability. Sure, you don’t want a dull looking website, but the main focus should be to facilitate the needs of the user, which usually includes the following:
- Navigational – browsing your website
- Information – seeking information about your product or service
- Commercial / Transactional – looking to purchase from you
The first step to an effective web design is to understand your audience and their intent, and then determine how to design your website to cater for your users’ needs.
It is important to remember that all elements of web design are there to deliver content to the user, it should tell a story about the business, product or service. This article is going to look at the principles of an effective web design.
Colour, typography and images
The right balance of these three design principles (colour, typography and images) can create a sleek and professional look for a website and help it stand out from your competitors. It is also vital to achieve well-balanced graphical components, because no matter how good your content is, no one will want to stay on the page if the visuals are jarring.
Those of you who know the term ‘colour psychology’ will no doubt be familiar with how colours affect mood. While it might seem logical to coat your page with the palette of your company logo, research suggests that this may be a bad thing. Vibrant and contrasting colours stimulate an emotional response, and are best used sparingly on ‘attention grabbers’ such as buttons and call to actions.
For example, Titan Digital uses a contrasting orange button, to draw the user’s attention.
There are a few ways to use colours to assist in web design.
- Complementary colours – to create a sense of balance on a page.
- Contrasting text and background – distinct differences will make the content easier to read.
- White space – minimal designs that that have ample ‘negative space’ are popular in modern website design, because it gives it an uncluttered look.
I am writing the first part of this in Comic Sans. Notice how distracting it is? Typography is very important for your online readers, and the best fonts to use are Sans Serif, Arial and Verdana. Font size is debatable, I generally go for a font size of 12, however in some cases, a font size of 16 can work well. It comes back to understanding your target audience and asking yourself what they would prefer, even better, ask a few customers personally.
If colour and typography are the cake of design aesthetics, then images are the topping. It is a great way to connect with your audience and establish the tone of your brand. However, nothing will ruin a perfectly good website faster than an average photograph. Make sure to use high-quality images. If possible, use original images; if you do not have a professional photographer available, buy images from http://www.shutterstock.com/.
The less a user has to think when they arrive at your site, the better their experience will be. The keep-it-simple-stupid (KISS) method works particularly well with design. In fact, a lack of complexity might benefit the site more than a beautiful layout, because the information on the site is free from distraction and easier to understand.
I am sure you have experienced that frustrating moment when you land on a page and do not know what to do. Clear navigation is arguably the most important aspect of a website. If your users are unable to get around intuitively, then something is amiss. Often, designers will use tactics like logical page hierarchy and clickable buttons in order to guide you around their site with relative ease.
Titan Web uses images next to each menu item, so users can navigate more easily.
Pretty much everyone has mobile devices that can access the internet. If you think about how often we are glued to them (well I am), it is highly disadvantageous if your site is not mobile responsive. A responsive website will adjust to different device screen widths. Accessing a desktop site on a mobile device is clunky and can deter a user. I would consider a separate mobile version, generally for SEO reasons.
As previously mentioned, web design is all about telling a story. Just as a story is a sequence of events, you want to guide the user to a call-to-action. It is at this point that understanding the users’ desires comes in handy.
Generally, when people view a website, they do not read in a linear fashion. They skim read, letting the flow of the page direct where their eyes fall. Titles and subtitles are effective at being anchors for a page, helping your audience know where to look. This is why having a killer headline is necessary. It draws the reader towards the content and encourages them to continue down the page. If they reach the bottom of the page, they are more likely to make a connection with your business. A few (2-3), simple call to actions throughout the content will help convert your casual audience into paying customers.
Hope this helps you with your next web-design project. Feel free to contact one of our friendly staff for web design advice.