Designing a website needs a lot of critical thinking. At first you have to think of a design which can easily capture a user, then you have to fit in the content and elements in that design and also make room for changes like adding or removing an element. Web designing is more art than science this way. It helps to know the basics of design like aesthetics, color combinations, grids and neat organization of information.
Web design, what is it?
Web designing is a subset of a larger and more diverse process called web development which includes designing and coding. Web designing includes conceptualizing webpages, their layout, content design and bringing aesthetics and functionality together. Before a coder starts to write the HTML, CSS or any other code for the website, designers work out a design for the developer. This ‘design’ thus forms the ‘blueprint’ for a website design.
Let’s understand what a website design ‘blueprint’ must have, as we discuss the key principles to make a website design look good:
1. Balance to please the eyes:
Users mostly see and read websites and thus a symmetry and well balanced distribution of elements is a must requirement. Every component on the screen has some ‘visual weight’ which must be balanced with clean (white) spaces. Elements must be in proportion and not arbitrarily laid out on the pages. Both symmetrical and asymmetrical balance can be manipulated with the size, color and transparency of elements. You can also add or remove an element to see how it affects your overall design balance.
2. Grids for compartmentalization:
Basic design rules like ‘rule of thirds’ and the ‘golden ratio’ (Phi or 1.62) help in neatly organizing visual elements in an eye pleasing way. Using horizontal and vertical columns or grids to arrange the information helps in improving readability and comprehending information. Grids divide information in a simple way that makes it easy for the user to follow the flow of information on the webpage.
3. Use the color theory:
Colors are very important when it comes to user experience and emotions. A complementing color scheme can make the content stand out and engage users more deeply into your website. Pick 2 or 3 base colors at the maximum and play around with them using shades (darker) and tints (lighter). Colors send out messages and they must complement your business and website design to begin with.
4. Illustrations, images & GFX:
All the visual elements on the page including images, videos and graphics should come together in completing one giant picture. Simple, clear and relevant images always work. However, a little bit of basic photo editing can make your images align with the overall website design and aesthetics. The images should be there to spell out what can’t be put in words.
5. Typography and readability:
Visual typography is something in which designers have always found themselves short handed. Dynamic rendering on the screen limits the control on how the typographical elements will be displayed on the user’s screen. Lack of font on the user's system, browser support, rendering platform etc. decide the font appearance and it is hardly under the control of designers.
A. Use font families:
Developers include font families which list font styles in an order of priority. If the user’s system and browser can’t display the first font, the website falls back on the second and then the third. This gives advantage in providing a backup ‘fallback font’ whenever needed.
B. Measure and leading:
The length and the width of the line is also an important design metric in typography. It helps in providing room for the text and makes reading a lot easier on the eyes.
C. Hanging quotes/bullets:
Left align settings or hanging bullets prevent text from causing a disruption to the flow of text or breaking the alignment of the regular text. They are used to display quotes, lists etc.
In this regard, better codes and integrated developments in the markup languages are coming up and the best solution is still awaited.
6. White spaces are crucial:
White space, if used in the right way, makes your on-page elements stand out. In a way, it helps to portray your work by giving the eyes a room to rest. White spaces put the user at ease and comfort, allowing him to explore your website with a calm mindset. They also help in balancing the visual weight of different objects.
7. Connect everything together:
A consistency in theme, color, background, design and feeling binds your website design together in a wholesome package. Every component of design when perfect in itself comes together to give a seamless user experience, only then a website design can be called complete. A visual hierarchy that dictates the correlation between elements forms the backbone of an appealing website design.
Remember that a user does not view webpages or elements as separate entities but experience the whole website as one single package. The strategy should always be to interconnect everything since it counts a lot towards a better user experience. A website design is an art and it is meant to connect emotionally with the user.