Good web design makes for a user experience that's appealing, intuitive and engaging. It's the difference between a site that converts and one that doesn't. With 88% of users refusing to return to a site after a poor experience, building a site that meets today's web design standards is a must.
Here are the 8 web design commandments that should never be broken.
1 Thou Shalt Honor Thy User
The best performing websites are the ones that look great, are easy to use, and make sense to the user. They function as expected, with features and assets that are aligned with current expectations, and they're a cinch to browse - both on desktop and mobile. A website that makes the experience all about the user is a winner. Effortlessness is the end goal. Treat your user well, and they'll do the same for you.
2 Thou Shalt Employ Balance
Say no to huge blocks of text, enormous images that stretch the screen, or headlines that are indistinguishable from the body copy. A well-designed website is a harmonious dance where text and imagery flow seamlessly together in an aesthetically pleasing way, making your website both scannable and readable. Get to know the importance of visual hierarchies, and acquaint yourself with the Golden Mean.
3 Thou Shalt Allow White Space
White space gives your audience breathing room so that they focus on your content. Used well, it draws helps draw attention to the most important areas of your website, providing a roadmap that guides the eye. It also reduces the risk of information overload, preventing users from feeling overwhelmed by or inundated with information.
4 Thou Shalt Not Commit Misalignment
Say yes to the grid system. This approach uses columns and rows to keep the components aligned. The result is a website that's clean and balanced, and without elements that feel "off" when viewed. Grids make for a user-friendly experience - and make things easier for you when it comes to make that next update.
5 Thou Shalt Use Color Wisely
Color is about more than simple visual appeal. Certain colors elicit particular emotions in audiences, and choosing wisely can be vital to conveying the right brand attitudes. Color also helps create contrast between different elements and is useful for conveying states - such as whether a button has been clicked or not. Choose colors that complement each other, and ensure that they meet accessibility standards for the visually impaired. Google's Color Tool is a handy resource.
6 Thou Shalt Use Pictures and Videos
A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in today's fast-paced world. Use high-res imagery, gifs, videos, animations, icons and other visual content to support your design. Doing so both adds to and simplifies the user experience. As a designer, you should always be striving to create less work for your user, and graphics are a great solution.
7 Thou Shalt Respect the Fold
"Above the fold" is a newspaper term that refers to the content that's visible on the top half of a folded newspaper. Think about the masthead and the day's most important headline. It may refer to old-school technology, but it still applies online. The "fold" in web terms is where visitors land before scrolling down your page, and it's where you make your first impression. Put extra care into customizing the content that goes above the fold - both on desktop and mobile.
8 Thou Shalt Be Consistent
Don't confuse your user with a design that takes a turn out of nowhere. Your website should feel like one cohesive document from Home through to Contact. When designing or updating your site, check that your imagery, color scheme, font choices and even tone of voice are consistent all the way through. This is especially important if you tend to make small piecemeal updates or find it hard to resist incorporating that cool new UI feature.
If you're in danger of breaking these commandments and don't know where to turn, get in touch. We'd be happy to help get your website back on the right path.