Balancing Act: The Principles of Good Web Design

Good website design is not about pretty pictures or the latest bells and whistles, it is about how well the site achieves a specific goal. These goals vary by organization, but ultimately it is about the end-user. The user’s experience, or in some cases the lack thereof, is what distinguishes the site from the competition. Regardless of industry, there are several key elements that exist in all good websites.

All good websites start with a plan
First and foremost, you need to define what you are trying to accomplish, who you are trying to target and how you plan to achieve these goals. Having a sitemap containing all the content you want to include and how you plan to organize it is a start. You need concrete goals about what you wish to accomplish. Is your site purely informative? Is it to generate sales leads? Is your site e-commerce enabled? Does it have a specific, measurable task? Are your goals for the site obtainable? These are all things to consider when developing your website.

Content is king
Good websites have engaging content that concise, informative, easy to understand, necessary and skimmable. One way to accomplish this is to use techniques such as the inverted pyramid, which places the most important content in the beginning of the page and least important content at the end. Another way of helping the readability of the site is to use sub-headers, typographical elements and white space.

Keep it simple
Designing a site that is overly complex will hinder its usability. Good websites are aware of structure and organization. They are also transparent to the user. The design should be intuitive and not require directions in order to be used. Design with a purpose rather than doing something just for the sake of being cool.

Error Free
Typos, broken images, scripting errors and broken layouts are not only unprofessional; they are a distraction that could ultimately leave to website abandonment. Having multiple people proofread as well as test your site on a variety of platforms and browsers can make all the difference. Remember, not everyone is going to have the latest web browser or computer. Also keep in mind that your website may be viewed on a phone or tablet.

A style guide is a must
Good web design is consistent in layout and navigation. The user shouldn’t need to look around to find the navigation, nor should they be distracted by your ever changing design. Using specific font treatments and style cues can help the user to perform tasks with ease. In addition, using consistent language will also aid the user.

A picture tells a story
The use of images to convey ideas or illustrate a point can help your readers, but use them sparingly. Users are often overwhelmed by text heavy and/or graphically heavy pages. If you find your images or copy dominating your page it might be time to re-think it. Are you trying to provide too much information? Does the size of the image need to be scaled? Can you say more with less?

Good design doesn’t have to be boring
Create a sense of style, use colors to create a mood but make sure it makes sense for the industry and user. For example, in some countries white is a color of mourning and would never be used for a wedding design. The use of bright, primary colors works well for a children’s site but not for bank. Just as small, little blue type wouldn’t work well for a website developed for seniors because they would have a difficult time reading it. Keeping your users in mind is the utmost importance. Good designers know the rules and which ones to break.

A good website design is a balancing act. It combines the color, typography and layout with writing, content and programming to obtain a user-friendly experience. Having clear cut goals, organization in addition to engaging content and a well laid out pages is essential for the site to be used as well as usable. If you need help in these, seek great digital marketing agencies and I am sure they will help you.

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