The top 10 principles of good and effective web design

Does your website struggle to retain users? Perhaps the conversion rate on your website isn’t as high as you’d like. There are many reasons why a website can suffer these fates, from a poor layout and design to a lack of mobile-friendliness.

Following these top 10 principles of good and effective web design can help ensure your website is on the right track:

1. Putting the User First

The first principle of a good web design is to put the user first. After all, your users will browse and interact with your website. By considering your users’ needs, requirements, and expectations, you can start to shape your website to suit what works best for them.

By considering your users’ needs and designing the website around them, you are putting yourself in a good position to develop a positive user experience. The better the user experience (UX), the more likely users will stay on your site, engage, and convert.

Developing buyer personas is the best way to research your users and potential customers. You can learn more about buyer personas and how to create one using our guide.

2. Mobile-Friendly

Welcome to the mobile age. In 2023, your website needs to be mobile-friendly. With Google now favouring mobile-first indexing and 55% of all web traffic coming from mobile devices, your web design must be mobile-friendly.

Adopting a responsive design is the best method for developing mobile-friendly web designs. Instead of developing two separate versions of your site (one for desktop and one for mobile), you only need to create a single version for all devices.

That’s because a responsive design automatically adjusts the size and position of content based on the screen size and viewport. Images, text, buttons, etc., adapt in a responsive design. This ensures your web design looks good on all devices and screen sizes for a better UX.

3. Easy and Seamless Navigation

Alongside mobile friendliness, another good and effective web design principle is easy and seamless navigation. You need to consider how easily users can navigate through your site. The harder it is to navigate, the more likely a user will leave your site.

Providing easy and seamless navigation also helps guide your users towards the pivotal decision stage of the buyer process. To ensure easy and seamless navigation, consider adopting a logical structure that users expect, with a navigation bar in the top banner (or a hamburger menu on mobile) and intuitive call to actions (CTAs) throughout the content.

4. Make Information Easily Available

Another good and effective web design principle that goes hand in hand with easy and seamless navigation is ensuring all information is easily available. Users who click on your landing page want all the answers to their needs and pain points without having to search for them.

Nowadays, people want information quickly. Users will click off your site and seek answers elsewhere if you don’t provide that. You must also ensure that your information is clearly written and easily understood. The better the readability, the easier users can read and digest the information.

5. Avoid Distracting the User

Once you’ve got a user on your site, you must adopt principles that keep them on your site. Another effective web design principle you can use to achieve this is to avoid distractions.

Many things on a web page can distract a user from finding what they are looking for. Users can feel confused or frustrated by such distractions due to an unclear structure, overcluttered web design, distracting ads, or annoying pop-ups.

A simple web design that eliminates such distractions can help improve the user experience and help improve conversions. Whitespace can go a long way to minimising distractions. Implementing these 7 web design features can help improve your website’s conversion rate.

6. Use of Colours

Colour is one of the most significant factors that can impact your web design. That’s why another essential principle of good and effective web design is your use and choice of colours. Your web design colour palette goes a long way towards customer engagement and developing an emotional connection.

To highlight the importance of colour, most users will decide whether they like a website from the use of colours within 90 seconds. Your choice of colour can also help influence user behaviour, elicit a response and drive a conversion.

Discover the importance of colour psychology in web design

The colour scheme you incorporate into your web design should be consistent with your business and brand. This consistency ensures seamless user experiences and greater brand recognition. Utilise these brand colours across your site.

7. Typography

The typography you include in your website should also be considered alongside the use of colour. Like colours, typography is another visual element that helps create a unique web design and brand presence. As a result, you should carefully consider the font and typography in your web design.

Several factors to consider when choosing the typography of your web design include:

  • The font and typeface (the size and choice of fonts).
  • Contrast with images/background colours (ensure content is readable).
  • Justification (use left justification).
  • The number of typefaces (limit to 2 or 3).
  • Matching proportions (spacing between words, lines, etc.).

8. Engaging Visuals

Alongside the colours and typography, incorporating engaging visuals is another good and effective web design principle. Visuals within your design include the choice of graphics, images, videos, and icons. The right choice and balance of visuals can create a striking design that engages users.

The visuals you incorporate into your web design should be high-quality and relevant to the content or theme of the page. Adding visuals to fill space is never good practice and can have adverse effects. Try to strike the right balance between written content and visual content.

9. Layout and Hierarchy

Alongside the choice of colours, typography, and visuals, you also need to consider the layout and hierarchy of pages. How content is positioned on the page significantly impacts the user experience and conversion.

Content should have a clear and coherent hierarchy. You can create a coherent hierarchy on the page by utilising headings and subheadings. An effective hierarchy will structure content logically and meaningfully, making it easier for users to digest.

There are a few styles you can pick from when it comes to layout. The choice of layout will depend on the page and content. Without a layout, content can appear messy and disorganised. Such disorder is chaos to your UX.

6 layouts to consider are:

  • Grid layout where content is arranged into sections, columns, and boxes.
  • The F-shaped layout works with users’ natural eye movement and behaviour to place content in an F-shaped pattern where users must look on a page.
  • The Z-shaped layout is similar to the F-shaped layout, but the content is organised into a Z-shaped pattern.
  • Spotted pattern –users skip over the content to seek out specific keywords or content.
  • Layer-cake pattern – users will pick specific headings or keywords and scan the content under the heading.
  • Commitment pattern – a user commits to reading all the content on the page, from top to bottom.

10. Page Speed

The last principle of good and effective web design is ensuring a fast page speed. The faster a page loads, the better for your UX. Ideally, a website should load between 1-2 seconds. After this, users are more likely to abandon a page.

A page speed of over 3 seconds will likely cause 53% of mobile users to leave. The longer the page speed, the higher the user abandonment. The bounce rate (percentage of users who leave your site without interacting) will suffer as a result, which reflects poorly on your UX and SEO efforts.

There are some tactics you can implement to improve your page speed:

  • Optimising images without affecting the quality
  • Minify coding, including HTML and CSS
  • Reducing redirects to the page
  • The choice of server and hosting provider
  • Removing render-blocking JavaScript

For more detailed information on your page’s speed, you can use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.

Creating an effective web design that benefits your customers and user experience can be difficult. By following the top 10 principles of good and effective web design above, you’ll be well on the way to crafting a website that attracts, engages, and converts users. Happy designing!