Five Main Rules of Good Web Design


 11/15/2015 12:00 AM

Web design is a skill that embraces both the artistic and the scientific, sticking to the rules of computers while finding creative ways to make an impression. After a couple decades of fast-paced exploration, and trial and error, there's plenty of proof that some design techniques work better than others. Whether you're using SITE123 to design your very first website or wanting to refresh your existing one, the same basic rules apply. There's no surefire recipe to design the perfect website, but if there was, the following five ingredients would be essential. If you can master them, you'll know how to make a website work for any demographic or industry.

1. Compatibility

With so many mobile devices dominating the consumer market, this one is more essential than ever. Your website absolutely must be compatible with different internet browsers, mobile devices, screen sizes, and operating systems. If the text trails off-screen or is too big or small to read for some people, it might as well be in another language. If you embed videos or graphics in scripts that most people don't use, they won't know why there are gaps in your page. To avoid this, you can code a distinct style sheet for each platform, or take advantage of an automatic optimization tool.

2. Readability

Compatibility plays a big role in how readable a website is, but there are other rules you need to keep in mind too. The most responsive web design is easy on the eye, letting readers get straight to the content and keep reading without distractions or eyesores. Left-aligned text is the easiest for Western readers, so don't center everything on the home page. The text needs to be simple, too, so stick to three fonts or fewer, and avoid clashing colors or dark backgrounds. Take up the whole window to make your information as accessible and prominent as possible, and of course, proofread thoroughly for any typos or misspellings.

3. Consistency

Your formatting should be consistent throughout the entire website, so if you're not working within a set template, make sure your design tweaks apply to every single page. The color, size, and position of your headers shouldn't change from page to page, and the size of your font shouldn't change from paragraph to paragraph. Even the numbers and punctuation should be uniform; don't use Oxford commas half the time, or write out "nine" and put the numeral in the next paragraph. Just remember: reading the whole site should feel seamless, not erratic.

4. Organization

Every example of good website design includes layout and display decisions that make the website easy to navigate. Readers shouldn't have to hunt for any information, especially if they want to contact you, make a purchase or explore the pages within your website. You can ensure a responsive design by putting your most important content first, tagging blog posts, providing a navigation menu on every page and placing important elements like forms and links in intuitive places.

5. Content

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it sometimes gets lost in the rush for lucrative keywords and user-friendly formatting. High-quality content is the only thing that will make your website last. Good web design incorporates polished fonts, high-resolution images, error-free text, and a server that can support instant downloads. Don't skimp on one part of the process or procrastinate on building good content. Promotion is just one step of the process, and it won't pay off if there's nothing solid to promote.

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