Did you know web design is becoming one of the most popular occupations in the global labor market? As companies rely more heavily on show-stopping websites to get an edge over their competition, the role of the web designer has become more crucial than ever.
But with great power comes great responsibility. Web designers have the tough task of creating a site that is not only interesting and aesthetically pleasing to look at but also works from a functional, technical, and practical perspective.
Finding the perfect mix of aesthetics and functionality is one of the main challenges any web designer faces. However, there are plenty of reliable principles designers can use to guide them along the way. These 10 design principles are values every designer can follow for improved, user-friendly web designs.
Contrast is really important from a visual perspective. Consumers want to look at things that have a sense of drama to them—a clear message they can’t resist fixating on. Without contrast, your web design will appear dull and ineffective.
The principle of contrast is what people are talking about when they say something “pops” off of the page. Using contrasting colors (dark/light), shapes (soft/round), and sizes (big/small) help the eyes and brain to quickly find what you are trying to bring to their attention.
Balance is a crucial component of any visual artistic medium, whether it’s an oil painting or web design. Knowing how to cultivate a sense of visual equilibrium is what makes a page appear stable, omniscient, and well composed. Without balance, your web design will look messy and difficult to focus on.
You can create balance in your web design by using complementary colors, adding equal parts of content and white space, and avoiding design patterns that weigh too heavily on one side of the visual spectrum.
Color plays a major role in how consumers will perceive your designs. Color communicates tone, energy, identity, and the direction you want to take your consumers in.
For example, the use of cooler tones such as green, blue, and white denotes a more calmative, professional stance, whereas warmer colors such as orange, red, or yellow feel more energized and grounding. The colors that you use should not only complement one another, but say something, too.
Knowing the basics of color theory is fundamental to successful web design. By understanding what colors communicate what messages and how to channel them into your presentation, you can create web design that is much more engaging and visually stimulating.
Graphic designer Paula Scher said it perfectly when she proclaimed that “words have meaning, but typography has spirit”. While the words you choose to express your client’s mission are, of course, very important, don’t forget how much of an impact the typography you choose can have on the overall visual appeal.
You need excellent, clearly defined typography to make your web pages stand out and deliver a certain flair. This is also a great way to showcase the individuality of a brand and allow consumers to gain a clearer idea of what the company is all about.
You can help users draw links between certain ideas by using the art of proximity. Proximity allows us to witness a visual relationship between two or more different elements, such as in a chart, poster, or illustrative infographic.
You can create proximity between different elements by grouping them in terms of color, shape, or size. For example, you might want to show how many recycled bottles it takes to make a sustainable pair of shoes. To incite proximity, you might make those bottles all the same color or size for continuation.
Web designers have the tedious task of making sure every element of their page is aligned to perfection. The aim of great design is to create something that appears so seamless and so well composed that consumers are not distracted by any flaws or inconsistencies along the way.
So what does alignment bring to the table? Well, it provides an ordered, structured context to whatever design elements you’re using, creating a smooth visual connection between everything else. The devil is in the details. So, make sure no pixel is out of line.
When you use the right amount of repetition, you bring consistency and clarity to your design. While limiting yourself to just one or two fonts, colors, or shapes might seem restrictive, in the grand scheme of things, this actually helps consumers develop a clearer understanding of your design. Consistency is also crucial for marketing, as a consistent brand is one that consumers trust.
Plus, repetition is visually soothing. Our eyes don’t want to see a million different elements at once. In fact, we can only focus on a few at a time. Make it easy for consumers to perceive your design.
- Negative space
Negative space is the empty space surrounding your main design elements. As minimalism continues to dominate the web design sphere, ample use of negative space is imperative for creating a trendy, user-friendly experience.
Using plenty of negative space (also known as white space) helps to bring refreshing spaciousness to your design. Plus, it allows users to focus better on the things you do choose to include.
- Visual hierarchy
This principle refers to the process of adding extra visual weight to the most important elements of your design. Whether you’re designing an e-commerce store or a digital portfolio, the same concept applies— there needs to be a main subject that the eye is drawn to. And whatever that subject is it needs to carry more weight than the other elements in its periphery.
This helps to create a sense of hierarchy that tells the consumer which important thing they should be looking at first.
The concept of proportion relates to the weight and size of objects, and how they connect to one another visually. By approaching your design information in sections rather than as a whole, you can create a sense of visually balanced ratios that appear sound to the human eye.
By mastering all the other principles on this list, proportion should naturally emerge. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just embarking on your web design career, these ten principles are things that every designer needs to get right.