Principles of Effective Web Design

According to Smashing Magazine, "usability and utility, not the visual design, determine the success or failure of a web site." If the user can not find what he's looking for on a web site, in seconds, he leaves the site. If there's nothing that he can do on a page, in seconds, he leaves the page. Therefore, the user must be able to see in a short time what he is looking for on a web site. On the landing page, immediately, the user must be able to see what he needs.

Therefore further, the web site must be clear of its main purpose. A message should catch the user's interest in order to make him stay longer or read further. The landing page plays a crucial purpose. What makes a user click on a link should be the same message that he must see on the landing page.

National Geographic's tag line is "live curious." Similarly, users of the Net surf curiously. If a user knows that the web site is going to satisfy his curiosity, answer some questiions in mind, or bring new knowledge, then the site becomes useful for him. You can predict that his next move is either to bookmark the page or share it.

Here are some basic principles of effective web design.

  1. Be direct to the point. Present your message clearly.
  2. Show what you've got quickly. Don't go around the bush. Don't abuse the use of the clicks and scripts. Users are impatient. Don't waste their time.
  3. WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get. Do not mislead the user. It's like being honest.
  4. KIS. When you write, keep it simple. Avoid being poetic and technical. Write short paragraphs. If one word is enough, use it.
  5. Organize your contents well. Do not clutter the texts and images leaving little room for white space. (The white space does not have to be white. :) Users read top down. Follow that direction.
  6. Make things functionally common. Give what is familiar to the user. Although sometimes, you may want to reinvent, do not do it radically. For instance, the search box is usually on top, then put it on top.
  7. Use easy-to-read fonts and be consistent. One type of font is enough; three to the max. Don't be excited about using many types of fonts.
  8. Stick with your color theme. Apply your colors consistently. Three colors are enough. Be simple without being boring. Be creative but use colors appropriately.

You may read the full article on the 10 Principles of Effective Web Design at Smashing Magazine.


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