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Design Standards – Key Principles That Make A Web Design Look Professional

Let’s say you have the most useful, best priced, most perfect product or service on the market. Customers have every reason to go to you to meet their needs. But these days, a stellar product means nothing if you customers aren’t drawn to it or if they don’t trust it.

How can you get potential customers to trust your product? By having a professional and appealing web design that follows established design standards. A beautiful, well-crafted site can make or break a sale and a relationship with a customer that could mean many sales over many years.

We’ve compiled a list of key principles that make your web design attractive, which will draw more users and gain their trust.

Keep Your Design Balanced

It is important for your web design to be balanced. This means that there is an equal distribution of visual weight in a design. The science of visual balance tells us that because our eyes are on two sides of a vertical axis, they require balance on both sides of the axis. What that means for your web design is that you want there to be balance between the right and left sides of your site. There are three basic balances in web design that you need to know.

  1. Symmetrical Balance – Element are placed in a very even fashion on the design. Elements match on both the right and left sides.
  1. Asymmetrical Balance – Elements aren’t matched across the centerline but have opposing characteristics that balance each other out. For example, a large element close to the centerline is balanced by a small element further away from the centerline.
  1. Discordant or Off-Balance – These designs are intended to make people uneasy or uncomfortable and suggest motion and action.

Whatever type of balance you choose, make sure you execute it well so that the design catches your user’s eye.

Compartmentalize Your Design by Using Grids

The design standard of utilizing grids is closely related to achieving balance discussed above. Grids create an outline for your design and help you keep your elements aligned and consistent.

When you try to place elements on your site using the naked eye, your users will almost immediately sense that things are off. Grids allow for a more natural, organized flow of your content. When your grids are placed smartly, your users will have a fantastic experience without being able to articulate exactly why. The subtle effect of good design, and well-placed grids, is the difference between a good site and a great site.

 Pick Two or Three Base Colors at Most

Though web design is a field for artists and creatives, much of what is deemed successful design is ruled by science. The rules of color palates for your site are no exception. Most good site design follows the rule of three colors: pick one primary color, then pick two other colors that complement the first.

Another common rule and design standard is “less is more.” This is especially true when choosing colors for your site. Choose one strong color and one or two less bold colors to accompany it. Don’t choose three loud colors.

When thinking of the two or three colors to choose, think of the tone or theme you want to set and work from there. Even design rules can sometimes be broken, but we recommend never using a combination of loud neon colors on your site without a very good and calculated reason for doing so.

Try to Make the Graphics Go Well Together

A trustworthy and reputable site doesn’t have to have groundbreaking graphics, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. What will hurt you is a set of graphics that clash with one another. When you are building your web design, make sure your graphics align thematically and the colors are in the same scheme or at least complement one another.

You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to create beautiful, professional-looking graphics for your site. Basic editing skills as well as knowledge about what makes for a clean and beautiful graphic go a long way in making your site appealing. 

Improve Your Website’s Typography

Unlike print typography, website typography is more limited in what you can control due to its dynamic character. But that doesn’t mean you should settle for the status quo when it comes to what your typography looks like. You have the ability right now to make your typography interesting and appealing.

Typography is a deep well to dive into, and there are a ton of resources explaining the subject, including why certain fonts are more appealing and why some just “go” together. However, typography is much more than just fonts.

One of the most important aspects of typography is making sure that it provides a good experience for all users on all devices. Font stacks are one way to control this. They allow you to choose the order in which fonts should be rendered, and if a font is missing, the browser automatically looks for the next font in line.

Controlling the measure and leading of your typography is also a way you can have a hand in improving readability. Hanging quotes and bullets also break up the monotony of your design and give user’s eyes something new and different to focus on.

There are many, many ways to improve your typography, but your main goal should be to make it great so that your users can have an easier time engaging with your content.

 Make Elements Stand out by Incorporating White Space

As we said earlier, a common design rule is “less is more.” This is seen clearly in the way great design utilizes white space. What is not there says almost as much as what is present on your page.

To make your copy easy to read, give site visitors natural breaks with negative space. White space also helps push important graphics or pieces of text to the front. White space surrounding a picture implies that the graphic is especially important, and the reader should pay attention to it. All of this is communicated with nothing but blank space on your page.

 Connect All Elements

One of the signs of a reputable brand is consistency and unity. When a site’s design is consistent, it uses the same colors, range of fonts, icons, and more across the entire site. To maintain a reputable reputation, your design should be consistent across all channels where your brand presents itself.

Are all of your design elements interacting with one another in harmony and complementing one another? A connected site design is naturally impressive because it takes both an artful eye and hard work to cultivate that kind of cohesiveness. When users are impressed with your site design, they are already positioned to be impressed with the product or services you are offering on your site.

Keep Your Homepage Minimalistic and Free of Clutter

When a user visits your site, you have just a few seconds to catch their attention and communicate who you are and what you have to offer and why they should go to you to meet their needs.

Because you are on the clock as soon as they enter your site, it’s important that your web design allows for quick and effective communication. The best way to do this is to keep both the design and content minimalistic and free of clutter. Use your design, not word count, to appeal to customers’ emotions. By using stunning, clean design, you’ll not only leave an impression, but customers will be able to remember your brand and what you communicated just from spending a minute or less on your home page.

Design with Visual Hierarchy in Mind

Regardless of what you are marketing online, there is an order of importance of the elements on your site that you want your users to understand. By designing with a hierarchy in mind, you can use your design to direct users to certain products or spots on your site.

In text, this looks like utilizing font, bold lettering, bullet points, and larger or smaller font sizes to break up your text and organize it so that it’s easy to read and understand. But design itself works in a hierarchy. Banners, menus, graphics, and the rest of the page structure can effectively communicate the most important products on a site without ever explicitly saying anything. 

Create Easy-to-Read Website Content

For the overwhelming majority of sites, content is king. That is, users come to your site to take in and learn from your content, whether you are producing how-to articles or a food blog. Pictures and graphics can only communicate so much, which is why good content is so crucial to the success of your site.

Just like with the rest of your site’s design, your content should be deliberate and have a specific purpose for your target audience. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, make sure your content is easy to understand, answers the how and why of your brand, and is laid out in such a way that it is easy, not overwhelming, to read. 

Ensure Your Site Is Easy to Navigate

If you’ve crafted your web site according to the design principles above, your site no doubt looks great. But a beautiful site means nothing if your users can’t easily navigate it. Your users will naturally gravitate to what is easiest for them, so make your site user friendly.

  1. Make sure your navigation is clear and legible. Don’t use narrow fonts and scripts as they can easily get lost on your site.
  1. Make sure your fonts are at least twelve pixels.
  1. Keep the most important links on your main menu, since that’s where your users will instinctively search for answers to their questions.
  1. If your site has a lot of pages, use second- and third-level drop down menus.
  1. Use actual text instead of icons for your menus. This will prevent any confusion when users are searching for a specific page or place on your site. 

Stay Mobile Friendly

Mobile web searches are increasing in popularity day by day. Your site cannot appeal only to desktop or laptop users, but the design has to look beautiful and function perfectly in a mobile application as well. If your mobile users have a bad experience, they will likely not search for your site again.

There are a number of ways to make your site mobile friendly. A good design goes a long way in giving users a fantastic mobile experience. Focus on a simple design. This is not only aesthetically appealing, but it makes navigating much easier when there are less things for your users’ fingers to accidentally touch on the screen. Simple designs also keep the attention of your mobile users who have notoriously short attention spans.

Making sure your site is mobile friendly takes time, but it is well worth the investment as you will have access to a huge audience of customers.

In Conclusion

We’ve outlined a number of ways you can create a professional, attractive web design. Beautiful design is nice to look at, but the goal of beautiful design is to give your users a good experience, which results in more business for you. By crafting your web design according to these principles, you will have a beautiful, easy-to-use site with content that your users will understand and enjoy.