10 principles of effective web design

In this article, you will learn about the main principles of effective web design – about patterns of user behavior, how to simplify the process of perceiving information and how to unobtrusively lead them to targeted actions (transitions, requests, orders).

Key features of the behavior of Internet users:

– They value quality and useful content. This is why sites with outdated designs but valuable content don’t lose fans.

“They don’t read, they scan. The user clings to several “anchors” by which he makes his opinion about the material. At the same time, the gaze moves from left to right and from top to bottom – according to the F-scheme:

“They are impatient and want immediate results.

– They do not strive for the optimal choice. Rather, they will stop at the first reasonable option.

– They like things that are intuitive. Therefore, descriptive images are often better than text.

– They want to control the situation. This is why pop-ups annoy many people.

Principle One: Don’t Make Users Think

The information on the page should be obvious and self-explanatory. A clear structure and intuitive navigation will help users find their way from point A to point B. And for the main image on the first screen and the text, the main task is to show what kind of site it is and what can be expected from it.

Example from Beyondis:

Effective web design from Beyondis

Contrasting colors, big headlines, nothing more. But what about clarity?

Recall that the user scans the page using the F-scheme. And, apparently, the creators of the site knew this. But what does the user see in the end? The top menu with standard items – Home, About us, Solutions, Products and so on. And the big headline: “Outside the Channels. Outside products. Out of distribution. ” The pun is certainly impressive. But what could that mean?

For comparison, the ExpressionEngine site uses a similar structure. However, in the title text it is immediately clear what it is about: “Meet the most flexible web publishing system you have ever met.”

Effective Web Design by ExpressionEngine

Principle Two: Don’t Test Your Users’ Patience

The fewer actions you need to make a purchase, register, subscribe to the newsletter, the more of these actions you will receive.

Keep in mind that first-time visitors are inclined to research. They can look at a few internal pages, open registration forms, and so on – just out of curiosity. Don’t try to force them to register or enter personal information right away.

It is worth trying: a) to make the user decide to register himself, based on his own benefit, b) to ensure the fastest and simplest procedure for entering personal data. The fewer required fields, the better.

Principle three: focus the user’s attention on the things that matter to you

Naturally, people react differently to different interface elements. Bold headlines get more attention than plain text, illustrations even more. Animated ads, while annoying, work great in terms of grabbing attention.

However, it is not necessary to resort to this “heavy artillery”. An example of a Humanized website: the word “Free” immediately catches the eye, while the page is made in a calm, informative style.

Effective web design by focusing user attention

Principle four: immediately show what functions are available to the user

Modern web design is often criticized for being directive: the user is literally being led by the hand – take step 1, step 2, step 3. Structured lists, large CTA buttons. From a usability point of view, this is all very effective. This makes it easier for the user to interact with the site. He immediately understands what actions are available to him and how to achieve the goal.

An example is the personal account page in Yagla. On one screen, the user is offered three options at once:

immediately show what functions are available to the user

Principle 5: Use Strong Writing

Few people will read a “sheet” of solid text from the screen – no subheadings, illustrations, bulleted lists.

And it’s worth talking only to the point. If the text is customer-oriented, avoid abstruse words, jargon, marketing terms. More specifics. For example, the sign “Sign up” is much more effective than the vague “start now!”

And in general – less advertising rhetoric. Instead of advertising calls – reasonable and convincing arguments in favor of why it is worth using your product or even staying on the site altogether.

Example from Eleven 2: “We have plans starting at $ 6 per month.” Straight to the point, without further ado.

use strong copy for effective web design

Principle Six: Strive for Simplicity

People don’t visit a site to admire the design. They are looking for information. The task of the designer is to make it as easy as possible to find it.

For example, the main page of the Crcbus website. It is in Italian, but it is quite possible to understand what it is about, and where the links from the menu lead.

strive for simplicity in design

In general, from the point of view of the visitor, the ideal design is short text that best matches what he was looking for.

Principle Seven: Don’t Be Afraid of White Space

You don’t have to be afraid of it – you have to use it. “Air” on the page reduces the information load and focuses attention on important elements. It also effectively divides information into semantic blocks.

Principle Eight: Make the Most of Visualization

Three rules for effective visual communication:

  • Structuredness. Clear, consistent presentation of information;
  • Profitability. A minimum of text and visual elements to solve the problem. Simplicity, clarity, uniqueness of all elements;
  • Ease of perception. Legibility, readability, clarity. Use no more than three types of fonts and no more than three sizes on the page. The optimal line length is 50-80 characters.

Principle nine: templates are our friends.

Standard site structure, standard navigation elements reduce the time for a visitor to adapt. Imagine if all sites had a different visual presentation of RSS feeds. A usability nightmare!

This does not mean that you do not need to experiment. But, deviating from the canonical path, it is worth making sure that the innovation really turns out to be more effective than the usual elements.

Principle 10: test earlier, test more often

Important points:

It is better to test the site on at least one user than not to test at all. And it is better to test on one user, but at the very beginning of development, than on 50, but closer to the end. Because the later the shortcomings emerge, the more expensive it will be to eliminate them;

Testing is a repetitive process. You design, test, rework, and test again. In the next steps, new problems can be identified;

Usability tests are always useful. Either they reveal a problem, or, conversely, indicate that you have no problems. In both cases, this is useful information.

Programmers know that it is useless to give the program code for verification to the author himself. It’s the same with web design. A fresh perspective is imperative.

Instead of a conclusion

These ten principles are certainly not ten commandments; you should not take them as unshakable postulates. But it’s a great guideline on the path to a user-friendly, useful, high converting website.

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