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20 Web Design Principles Every Business Owner Should Know

Building a website for your business? Gain a better understanding of these web design principles before getting started.

As a business owner, it's important to get your products and services to the right audience. That starts with your website. While your website makes the connection, it must tell the story about your brand. It must also have a strong brand identity within the site design that's aesthetically pleasing to provide the best user experience.

Designing a website isn't just putting up content on the page; it's all about consistency, legibility, and making it welcome and user-friendly. This starts with knowing the web design principles that can get the job done.

Is effective web design challenging? Absolutely, especially if you aren't using a seasoned designer for the development. It's important to start with knowing good web design principles that are central to delivering what you need. Before you begin, here are a few things to consider.

User experience

Yes, user experience or UX is an integral part of your web design. You want your users to feel as if they learned something and connected with your brand. This should end with them wanting to place an order. There are many websites that don't consider a user experience and they end up having too much information to sort through or they don't know where to go to find the information they want.

Know your audience

The principles of web design begin with knowing who you're designing the site for. The goal is to ensure the right audience comes to your site. That means you should research who your audience is to align elements of the website the right way.

Content

Although you're going to be focusing on the visual hierarchy of the website, you shouldn't forget the copy that will complement each design element. Your copy must be well thought out for effective SEO. The goal is to keep your content fresh and insightful using the other web design principles to support the experience.

A consistent website with a clean design works wonders. The navigation should be seamless. That's why it's very important to have a wireframe or mockup to determine where every design and visual element should go. This includes your color scheme and the fonts you use are just as important as the design itself. You must have the right font type to ensure readability, or your visitors will go someplace they won't feel confused.

Lead with what matters first. While they want information about your brand, their entire reason for coming to your website is to solve a problem. What are their pain points? Those concerns should be front and center, with additional pages to learn more. You want continuous engagement with your site. Add value with every click and they will keep coming back to see what's new.

Considering what actions your visitors will take and creating the design and content together will move them from the awareness stage to engagement much faster. This is where the site hierarchy comes into play. You always want the user to feel comfortable and confident as they embrace the unified experience.

20 Principles of web design

Before getting started, it's important to fully understand what web design principles are. These are principles based on industry expertise, including psychology, ergonomics, and other components, working together to determine what delivers the best user experience.

Design principles promote efficiency, great interfaces, and user experience to drive conversions. When used correctly, your usability is enhanced, and you can clearly see what moves to make for your website. You may want to use a website builder to help with your framework and user interface to make things easier. Mailchimp has a robust website builder that can meet your needs.

Here are key principles of good web design, starting with the UX laws. Now, what are the user experience, or UX laws? They are design principles put together by Jon Yablonski who used these laws from different experts to design better products and services at General Motors. They should be considered when designing a site to ensure the best user experience:

Make the main targets easy to reach

This means the distance and size of elements impact the time it takes for users to navigate to each element and interact with it. Your white space matters and the icons used should be large enough to see and comfortably tap.

Keep choices to a minimum

Again, you don't want to confuse your audience. That means keeping the options limited. The more options they have, the more time it takes for them to make decisions. Remove the clutter. That means your buttons, navigation menu, the way you display products or services, and other design elements must be considered.

Related elements should go together

This means your spacing should flow. Items on the menu should be spaced accordingly and use borders and backgrounds to enhance each other.

Use logic and what's familiar

Your visitors expect a site that works a lot like what they are used to. This helps them focus on what they came to achieve instead of having a huge learning curve. Familiar icons should work like what they are used to.

Keep the structure simple

If your site is too complex, they will leave. Avoid complex shapes and use columns, sections, and blocks aligned the right way to help with comprehension and interpretation.

Grouped elements should be close

Elements that are near each other are often perceived to be a group. This helps with the user experience. Any elements that are related should be closer together than other elements. Calls-to-action should be aligned or divided from other navigational elements. That's why they are often found on a button.

Use similarity to put items in groups

Using a specific color scheme, icon, or text works best. Using the main headline and then breaking down elements into additional explanations in a group creates symmetry and consistency in your design styling.

Connect design elements to show a relation

Visually connected elements are more relatable than those that aren't connected to anything. This is why many websites have progress bars in their checkout experience, or when users are responding to a survey. This creates a visual connection for the user and identifies that each step is part of the process.

Put content in small pieces

Limit the amount of content the user can perceive. Do not show everything in one block. Attention spans are limited, and most people are used to video. This goes back to the original plan or wireframe to ensure you have the best design. Additionally, consider the type of screen most people use and what would be more user-friendly for them.

Accent the first and last elements in a series

Most people remember the first and last things they see. Use this psychology to highlight what's important on the site. Forms, CTAs, and different options for purchasing are most effective at the top or bottom.

General principles of engaging website design

Navigation

As a designer, navigation should be one of the most crucial elements of the design. People who can't effortlessly navigate through the website won't stay or return. Simple, clean design is most important for helping your users get to the content they want. That means keeping the menu bar simple with few options, don't have too many dropdowns, being clear in what each menu option describes, and trying to limit the number of clicks they must go through to obtain the information.

Responsiveness

If your website isn't responsive, why create it? Your website should adapt to the device the person is using, regardless of how large or small the screen is. There are 6.648 billion smartphone users in the world today, and 7.26 billion mobile phone users. That means the chances of your website being accessed by a smartphone or mobile phone are very high. You should concentrate on your images and buttons, to make sure they are clickable on a smaller screen. You should have several different mockups to determine which one will work best across every platform, and when designing, try the mobile-first approach. By doing this, you can focus on what's important, have the right text size, improve engagement and interactivity, and keep aspect ratios in mind.

Consistent color scheme

You can't have a cohesive brand without a consistent color scheme. That means your assets, which include your website, must be an extension of your brand. Color is key to connecting with your audience. Before designing your website, your brand personality, voice, and identity should all be present to ensure you use the brand colors and other elements of the brand the right way. Pulling colors out of a hat and hoping your audience will like them is not the way to go. Stay away from super bright or super dark colors on your site unless they are part of your brand. Use your highlight colors to denote important information. Simple is the way to go.

User interface

We've talked about the user experience but that begins with the interface. It's how the user interacts with your system. Your interface should be clean and simple. That means going back to your web frame to make sure the layout of your page is efficient and effective. You should have consistent fonts and colors, the content and copy should be relevant to your audience, and they should not have to continuously scroll to get what they need.

Have you created user goals for your website?

This is crucial. Your users must be able to find the information they want. Be specific and avoid vague language. What do they need to know? Make sure what, why, and where is answered. Your information should focus on the tasks the user will go through to obtain the information.

The information should be easy to search for, and there should be steps to move forward once they get to the information. For instance, someone wants your products and services. They click on the specific product, can read about it, can see how much it costs, and have a clear path on how to purchase it. This alleviates any confusion and solves a problem before it occurs.

Performance

Your site should be optimized and fast. Slow websites that take too much time to load or to get to the information give a negative perception of your brand. Again, if users can't get what they want and need in a timely manner, they will go to the competition.

If your site isn't performing well, do a diagnostic to see where things aren't connected. There are many tools on the market that can conduct this type of assessment. Do not start changing things without knowing what's working and what isn't. You should always optimize your images, compress any files, use text instead of too many images, and reduce the number of HTTP requests.

Feedback

When directing users to do something, they should know where they are on the journey. You can use loading bars or percentages to communicate this information. It's also good to use success or failure screens so they know if their transaction went through or didn't. When purchasing items, if a customer can't purchase because it's sold out or out of stock, having a notification to alert them is not only customary, it's key. Customers who are left in the dark would rather spend their time on websites that offer value and good customer service.

Avoid dialog boxes

When users are going through your website, one of the most annoying things is being confronted with a dialog bog to do something different. You should ask if they want to receive these types of notifications from the beginning because this is another way you lose your audience. If you must use a dialog or alert, make sure it's specific. Do not have them opening every time your user does something because it dilutes the experience, creates frustration, and makes them not want to visit your site anymore.

Enable control

Users can make mistakes when using your website. If you can, install back or undo buttons so they can go back and make changes. This gives users more flexibility, control, and freedom when interacting with your website.

Use website footers

Website footers can be an important part of your site that is often underutilized. While most people concentrate on the information at the top and body of your website, the footer holds valuable information like your copyright notice, privacy policy links, logo, sitemap, contact information, social media icons, email sign up, and more. Copyright notices are very important on a website because they alert the audience that your work is protected by law, and you own the copyright to what's on the website. It deters people from stealing content. It should have the year of when it was published or your most recent update.

Your privacy policy is just as important, as it is mandatory by law. You should have a legally compliant privacy policy that's easy to locate and access. Customers expect to find this information in the footer. Your logo should also be in the footer because it reinforces your brand identity. Some companies even put their brand values at the bottom of the logo. Most of all, your users should have some way to contact you. Putting this information in your footer makes it very easy for them to know where to get in touch with you.

Don't let your beautiful website go to waste

While these design principles can point you in the right direction, it's up to you to take what you've learned and implement it. Using a website builder like Mailchimp can also help you get things in order while using good website design principles to lead the way. Creating a website takes planning and thought to get it right. It won't happen overnight, and you should implement testing to see how well your website performs.

Using these principles and design elements the right way can have major results in building your brand. Remember, the presentation of your brand should be consistent at every touchpoint. Your brand identity should seamlessly flow with the laws of good web design, and then integrate with the other design and visual elements for a cohesive experience.

Connecting with your audience in every way possible is key. Your website should be their portal to learning about who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. It should also be a springboard to staying connected to you through your blog, email, and other engagement tools.

Email marketing is essential in today's marketplace. While social media is a good way to connect with your audience, your email list remains active even if social media or your website goes down. Email marketing is the one consistent element of your marketing that keeps you connected with your audience no matter what.

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