Top Website Design Principles
When we design new websites for clients, we firmly believe in the notion that more is less. We don’t get caught up in the idea that including everything, including the kitchen sink, on every page is beneficial to the user. In fact, this practice overwhelms the reader to the point that they will simply go to your competitor…that’s not what you want. You want them to land on your site, quickly and easily find what they want, experience the expected, be informed and then be able to reach out and get in touch with you. These goals can easily be achieved by following these simple 8 Best Practices to Effective Website Design:
1. SIMPLICITY: Colours, Typefaces and graphics should be kept minimum.
Use no more than 5 colours, use web fonts that are legible (no more than 5 colours of typefase, and only use graphics if they help the user complete a task. Remember: Less is more you dog! Don’t be adding design features or functionality unless it aids in the overall experience and objective.
2. Visual Hierarchy: Lead visitors to the most important information and action with size, colour and positioning. This means arranging elements so that visitors naturally gravitate toward the most important element first. In most cases this is a desire action such as clicking on a button to buy, get in contact or receive a quote.
In the example below, the user is carried down through the images to the call-to-action buttons, which are easily found and clear on their intention.
Craftfloors.com >> Branding & Website Design by Straydog
3. Navigability: Intuitive & logical navigation to ensure that users can find what they’re looking for, quickly and easily
> The main navigation should be simple at at the top of the page,
> Use breadcrumbs so users are aware of where they are on your site,
> Always include a Search box near the top of the page
> Don’t have too many navigation menus on the page
> Don’t make users dig more than 4 levels in a menu
> Include links in your copy to both internal and external pages and indicate where these links are going and for what content. Don’t use the often used “Click Here” text, this tells the user nothing.
In this example of Bayer Canada’s website, we see a mega menu structure with clear paths for content, breadcrumbs, a different colour for menu links are indicated when hovered over, and quick-link menu is also offered for other key content
4. Consistency: The overall look & feel of your site should be consistent, but also offer unique page templates for different content. In the example below of our own Straydog website, we have used similar page designs and graphics and elements across all pages.
5. Accessibility: A huge proportion of users will be accessing your site on their phone or tablet, so your site needs to be “Responsive” (mobile friendly across all devices). With a responsive site, content is automatically resized to fit the dimensions of the device being used to access it. Some contact may not be presented, while other content is presented in a different order, to best the best user experience while understanding mobile viewing expectations and tendencies.
In our example below of Paladin Security’s website, we have also designed fully responsive versions for use oin phones and tablets.
Website Design by Straydog
6.Conventionality: Provide a familiar functioning site to users:
Having the main navigation be at the top (or left side) of a page,
> Having a logo at the top left (or centre) of a page,
> Having that logo be click-able so it always brings a visitor back to the homepage,
> Having links change color/appearance when you hover over them.
In this example, we showcase the Hitcase website, that follows the 3 principles we just listed.
Branding & Design by Straydog
7. Credibility: Using web design elements and strategies that visitors are already familiar with, ie: Don’t make them dig for the most important information. If you’re selling things, present your price and options, be upfront and honest!
In this example of Bowen Island Seakayaking, the booking and pricing information is easily found and acted
Branding & Website Design by Straydog
8.User-Centricity: Put yourself in the shoes of your site’s visitors and keep them in mind every step of the way. At the end of the day, usability and user experience hinge on preferences of the end users. So to acid test your work, conduct some user testing, gather feedback and make changes based on your learnings.