30 Key Website Design Principles to Maximize User Experience
When it comes to creating a successful website, usability should never be neglected. A website serves as a platform for a business’s products or services and tells a story about the brand. If poorly designed, it may drive visitors away rather than convert them into customers.
In fact, users often abandon a website within a few seconds if they find it difficult to interact.
Why is user-friendly web design important?
A recent study conducted by Stanford University indicates that approximately 75% of visitors evaluate a company’s credibility based on the design of its website. Therefore, it is important for businesses to prioritize user-friendliness when designing their website to make a favorable first impression.
If visitors find a website easy to navigate, it increases the likelihood of them returning repeatedly to access the information they need. The experience of first-time visitors must be consistent in order to convert them into loyal, repeat customers.
In today’s digital age, a company’s website serves as a virtual storefront, and a well-designed and user-friendly website can be a key factor in establishing a positive brand image and fostering customer loyalty. Therefore, businesses should invest in creating a website that’s easy to use, visually appealing, and accessible across all devices.
These 30 principles will help you design a user-friendly website
A user-centric website that looks good, functions well and drives more revenue can be built using 30 key principles.
1. Start with a clear purpose
To begin the process of creating the design for a website, it is essential to identify the goal of the website. Whether it is to create a digital portfolio, showcase your business’s services to potential customers, or sell products online, you should ensure that your website’s purpose is apparent and clear.
Your website should fulfill the needs of your target audience and be designed in a way that is most appropriate for the visitors. If the users fail to understand your website’s objective and the website fails to address their pain points, they are likely to leave.
2. Make navigation easy
Having simple and intuitive navigation is paramount for visitors to move around your site with ease. The website navigation is the gateway to your entire website, and you should ensure that it is both simple and engaging for your audience.
By opting for drop-down menus or sidebars, you can make your menu more fun while being straightforward to navigate. But regardless of which type of menu you choose, you must prioritize user-friendliness, ensuring that visitors can quickly and easily find the information they’re looking for.
3. Keep it simple
Nowadays, website visitors expect straightforward interfaces, short navigation lists, relevant icons, and bold, simple content. However, many web designers blindly follow design trends and use unnecessary elements and templates to stand out. As a result, the website becomes overly complicated and difficult to use.
So no matter what type of website you design, it’s essential to prioritize the user’s experience, ensuring that the website is easy to use, even if it means sacrificing some uniqueness.
4. Keep the design consistent
Maintaining coherence throughout a website is crucial to establishing credibility and winning over visitors. Consistent designs ensure that all website elements, such as headers, footers, sidebars, and navigation bars, work harmoniously and look coherent across different channels.
By keeping these common elements in the same place on every page, visitors can easily navigate your website and focus on engaging with your content instead of trying to figure out how to use the site.
5. Ensure readability
You need to use the proper typefaces to make your website more aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. To do this, use standard, legible, and professional typefaces rather than flashy ones that don’t make sense for the content of your website.
Using bold and capital letters on important phrases and words can make the text easier to read. Also, break up the text into smaller sections and use different font sizes. This will make the content more interesting and readable.
However, it is important to ensure the font size is neither too small nor too large to prevent difficulties in reading on mobile devices as well as on computer screens.
6. Ensure mobile friendliness
Nearly 60% of all website traffic now comes from mobile devices, so your site must be responsive and mobile-friendly.
By using a responsive design, your website will automatically adjust to display correctly on various devices, including tablets and smartphones, as well as traditional desktop and laptop screens.
Neglecting to have a mobile-friendly website could result in missed business opportunities. In contrast, having a mobile-friendly website can give you an advantage over your competitors who may still be using outdated, non-responsive designs.
7. Maintain a logical page hierarchy
In web design, the hierarchy of a page is essential. If your website’s pages aren’t organized well, visitors may become confused and leave.
In order to keep everything organized, it’s best to have a few primary page categories and then further subdivide the rest.
8. Make use of the F-shaped reading pattern
Online readers often only skim articles, and studies have found that most people view web pages in an F-shaped pattern. This means that readers focus on the top portion of the page and then scan down, primarily on the left side of the page.
To ensure that your website’s most important information is seen, it’s best to place it at the top of the page, in line with this viewing pattern.
By doing so, you can increase the chances that visitors will notice and engage with your primary message.
9. Maintain the golden ratio
The Golden Ratio is a mathematical concept represented by the number 1.6180. Ancient Greek mathematicians discovered it by studying the natural world, humans, and architecture.
The Golden Ratio can be applied to design by dividing a line into two parts and using the formula (a + b) / a = a / b = 1.618. This formula can help in creating shapes, logos, layouts, and other design elements.
Research suggests that our brains naturally prefer objects and images that follow the Golden Ratio. Even making minor adjustments to conform to the Golden Ratio can significantly impact how our brains respond to an image or design.
10. Utilize negative space
The area surrounding the primary components of a webpage, such as text, images, buttons, or videos, is commonly known as negative space or “white space”. Some web designers make the mistake of overcrowding a page with excessive information and design elements in an attempt to keep visitors engaged.
Unfortunately, this strategy frequently results in pages that are overwhelming and confusing. Negative space serves as a solution to this problem.
By utilizing negative space, designers can highlight the essential components of a webpage, as the absence of content and color draws visitors’ attention to the most important features.
11. Apply Hick’s law to your design
Hick’s law highlights that the more options presented to a user, the longer it will take for them to make a decision.
To ensure ease of use, designers often implement the “Keep it Simple” principle, especially when planning website navigation menus. Having too many links can overwhelm users and discourage them from staying on the website.
However, if a website requires many options, it is important to categorize them to reduce the number of items in the list, making it easier for the user to find what they need and make a quicker decision.
12. Implement Fitt’s law
Fitt’s Law states that the time taken to use a website function depends on the size of the button and its distance from the user. For instance, music apps have large play buttons as users frequently use them. However, only increasing button size does not necessarily equate to success, as a large element can make navigation difficult.
It is important to place the button in an easily accessible area of the page, as usability follows a curve instead of a straight line.
Utilizing mouse tracking tools can provide valuable data on user habits, allowing for more informed decisions on button size. Increasing a small button by 15% is more effective than increasing the size of already large buttons.
13. Ensure fast-loading speed
It doesn’t matter how well thought out a website is or how useful each individual element is if it takes forever to load. Most people will not wait for a slow-loading website since they have limited time and other options.
14. Give careful consideration to the CTA buttons
The effectiveness of your website’s CTAs (calls to action) depends heavily on how much strategic thought you put into their position and placement in general.
Think about where your buttons appear on the page and where you want them to take the user before you launch the design process.
To create an effective CTA button, it’s essential to follow some best practices, including making the button stand out with a strong border or a different color from the rest of the page. Using action-oriented words and keeping the button clear, concise, and compelling will encourage users to click. Additionally, it’s important to make sure the CTA button is easy to find, preferably above the fold and away from large blocks of text.
15. Use visuals in the best way possible
Visual elements play an essential role in conveying a brand’s identity. Visuals such as photos, illustrations, and other graphics help to balance out text and add variety to the website, keeping users engaged. A good first impression can be created with an exciting hero image.
Additionally, animated transitions and scroll-triggered effects can make navigation more interactive. When it comes to visuals, quality is essential.
So, it’s important to use clear, color-balanced photos and graphics with the right size and resolution. Ensure the visuals are of the highest quality to maximize the impact of a great design.
16. Consider using Z-pattern
The Z-Pattern is a web design format that is used to guide users’ viewing path on a website. This format highlights important information such as company names, subpages, and contact information, making it easily accessible and increasing the likelihood of user engagement.
While the Z-Pattern is more suitable for simpler designs with minimal content, it can be adapted by repeating the pattern vertically to create a zig-zag for more information.
This format strategically directs users’ attention to specific areas of the page through visual cues, text, and CTAs, making it user-friendly and effective.
17. Use the law of the common region
The law of common region is an essential principle of Gestalt psychology that states that when elements on a page are closely grouped, they are perceived as interconnected. This principle can be used to distinguish one group of elements from another by creating boundaries that visually separate them.
eCommerce websites commonly employ this technique to differentiate between different categories of products, allowing users to identify and navigate to their desired products easily. By leveraging the law of the common region, designers can create visually appealing and user-friendly designs that help users perceive groups of elements as a whole and take appropriate actions.
18. Follow Jakob’s law
Jakob’s law is a widely accepted principle in user-friendly web design that states that visitors prefer websites and applications that work similarly to other sites they use. This is the primary reason why many designers incorporate familiar patterns, icons, and user interface styles to align with users’ existing mental models and improve usability.
Adhering to Jakob’s law does not mean sacrificing brand identity or theme; instead, it means maintaining basic functionality, such as ensuring that directional icons perform the expected action. By designing for familiarity, designers can leverage users’ prior knowledge to create a more intuitive and accessible user experience.
19. Leverage the Von Restorff effect
The Von Restorff Effect, also known as the Isolation Effect, is a powerful principle that web designers can leverage to make their designs more memorable and user-friendly.
This principle states that when there are multiple similar objects, the one that stands out is more likely to be remembered. By making an item visually distinct through color, size, or other fundamental qualities, designers can help users remember it more easily.
This principle is useful in various design contexts, such as highlighting important information or features on a website, making buttons stand out, or creating memorable logos.
20. Use a complementary color scheme
Choosing the right color scheme for your website is important to create the desired mood and impression for your visitors. Colors have the ability to evoke emotions and associations, making it important to carefully consider the shades you use.
By selecting a brand color and complementing it with a few other colors, you can create a harmonious and impactful design that accurately represents your brand and message.
If you’re just getting started with website design, you can utilize complementary color palettes generators like Adobe Color or Tint and Shade Generator to get the right colors for your brand.
21. Be attentive to the small details
While attractive visuals are important, they won’t be enough to keep people on your site.
Rather than simply checking for typos, it is important to pay attention to the smaller features of a website, such as micro-interactions and text spacing, in order to maximize its effectiveness. This adds a professional touch and demonstrates that the company values attention to detail.
22. Opt for a grid-based layout
A grid-based layout is an excellent choice for maintaining a neat and orderly appearance in your web design. Just think of it as dividing your website into neat rows and columns. This helps create a balanced and orderly appearance by giving each item on the page equal space.
It is helpful to initially sketch up a grid of squares and rectangles to organize your information. Website templates that have grid editors are another option you can try.
23. Make your web design accessible
The success of a website largely depends on its ability to be used by as many people as possible. This includes users who may need a screen reader, like those who have blindness, disability, or are older. Following the 508 website accessibility requirements are important if you want your site to be usable by as many people as possible.
These guidelines include simple ways to design a website, such as adding alt-text to images, making headings that explain what they are about, and making sure the text is big enough to read. By making websites accessible, designers can ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, can access their content and use their website.
24. Highlight key information with icons
When it comes to designing websites, icons can be a big help because they allow you to convey information to users quickly and visually. They are more likely to capture the reader’s attention than a lengthy headline and can provide a deeper grasp of the subject at hand.
A company’s services, values, or product features can all be visually represented with icons. It’s essential that all of the icons share a similar aesthetic so that the user experience flows smoothly. Moreover, icons can be utilized to illustrate ‘why us?’ or the reasons behind the product, allowing users to see the complete picture.
25. Group similar elements together
The Law of Proximity is one of the most important website design principles. It says that people tend to think that things that are close together are related. By combining things in this manner, designers can lessen the cognitive load on users and make it easier for them to digest the information offered to them.
To use this principle, designers should ensure enough space between elements, with elements from the same group being closer together than those from different groups. It’s an effective way to highlight specific details, simplify the design’s layout, and establish connections between various components.
26. Add a search bar
When a website only has a few pages, a search feature may seem unnecessary, as every piece of content is only a few clicks away. However, as the site grows, finding specific content can become complicated, frustrating visitors who may ultimately turn to competitors. Including a search bar on your web design gives visitors a quick and easy way to find everything on your site.
Research shows that 59 percent of visitors prefer a search bar on a website. While not every website requires a search feature, e-commerce sites with a wide range of product offerings can improve conversion rates and user experience by including one. If you have many pages on your website, ensure that the search bar is prominent on all pages to enhance the user experience.
27. Utilize the serial position effect
The Serial Position Effect states that people are more likely to remember the first and last items in a series than those in the middle. This phenomenon has implications for web design. Designers can use this principle to structure web pages to help users more easily recall information.
By placing important information at the beginning and end, designers can increase the page’s effectiveness. Utilizing the Serial Position Effect can help to ensure that users remember the key messages and call to action on the page, leading to a more positive user experience.
28. Avoid using pop-ups
Encountering unexpected user interface features is likely to cause frustration and confusion among website visitors. Specifically, pop-ups are a source of annoyance and can compromise the overall quality of the user experience.
As pop-ups are predominantly used for advertising and offer little to no value to visitors, users tend to close them without engaging.
Therefore, to ensure user-friendliness in your design, it is recommended to steer clear of any type of pop-up.
29. Consider the rule of thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a web design principle that promotes symmetry and balance in design. It helps designers achieve harmony on their pages. Composition is a fundamental component of web design, and even the most creative icons, fonts, and images won’t work if the overall structure is disorganized.
Fortunately, applying the Rule of Thirds can solve this problem; it is much easier to employ than calculating the Golden Ratio. It involves visually dividing the page into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, with the four middle intersections being the most strategic points of interest. By placing key elements at these points, the designer can create an impactful design that’s pleasing to the eye.
30. Display the outcomes of the action
To enhance the user experience, it is recommended to ensure that users can observe the impact of their actions on the site and its content.
For instance, users should be able to monitor the real-time progress of a form they are completing. This feature makes the process easier to understand, so users can better understand their performance.
It is also crucial to explain the objective of each activity, such as filling out a form or clicking on a link, so that users understand why they are being requested to perform these actions.
Creating a user-friendly website is essential for attracting and retaining visitors. Following the 30 modern web design principles outlined in this article can help ensure your website is easy to use, navigate, and appear consistent.
However, if this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry; as a web design company in Florida, we can assist you in creating a website that meets these criteria. Contact us today! We are here to help you.