Ten Website Design Essentials

Websites are no longer simple “business card” sites. Now they are money-making machines and marketing magnets that need to engage savvy users in a split second.

Over the past two decades, having a website has become essential for businesses.  However, the challenge has been to keep pace with not only the technological changes, but also the accompanying evolution in design new technologies have caused.

In this article, I have pulled together the ten most important aspects of web design as they relate to today’s technologies.

Keep in mind web design is a continuous process and technological improvements and design changes will need to be thought of as an ongoing part of your business.

In this article we will look at the following ten website design essentials:

  1. Minimalism
  2. Color Palettes
  3. Navigation
  4. Typography
  5. White Space
  6. CTAs (Call to Actions)
  7. Iconography and Photography
  8. Hero Images
  9. Responsiveness
  10. Background Video

1. Minimalism

The principle of minimalism is “less is more”.  This can sometimes be confused as modernism.  Although the two terms are related, modernism focuses on an airy design, a clear-cut design and a clean-lined design.

In modern website design, minimalism should be a prime factor. Following a simplistic principle will help your visitors easily assimilate the information you provide them. A minimalist design will benefit your web site in three ways:

  1. Focus on things that matter
  2. A website that looks professional
  3. Puts a focus on your content

2. Color Pallettes

In modern website design, color palettes should be modest – they are straight-forward, but able to attract the user’s attention. Color Palettes should have a consistent feel throughout your website since they contribute directly to your brand design.

Research leading online brands for inspiration here on how they make use of a simple, consistent, yet impactful color palette. Starbucks, FedEx, McDonald’s, or Amazon are all great examples of use of an optimal color pallet.

3. Navigation

A site’s navigation system is another element you should pay great attention to as a web designer. The more complex it is, the easier it is to confuse visitors. It’s best to keep it simple and responsive so that users can rapidly access any section of the website they are interested in.  Sub-menus should be avoided unless the nature of the site is such that it calls for a more complex menu structure.

Modern web design encourages simple navigation layout in order to facilitate mobile devices, in particular.

4. Typography

A much forgotten aspect of modern website design is typography.  However, typography can impact a website’s design tremendously: the typefaces you choose can influence the overall feel of the website.

Typefaces come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Large fonts are best to use so that users will encounter no problem in reading the content on various devices. Also, pay special attention when combining different fonts, since this could easily lead to a less-appealing site.

Using less-used fonts will help give your site a more unique look.  Sometimes this incurs an extra cost but it can help a site really stand out.

5. White Space

When used properly, the use of white space in web design is underestimated, as it can change the entire aspect of a site. When a website is filled with too much information or too many design elements, it will overwhelm users and users will probably skim through the content.

When adding a few areas that allow the users to breathe and take a break from a large amount of content, you help them refocus their attention for the next paragraph.

White space is used as a much-needed visual break. It minimizes distractions and sets a clearer eye-path that people will follow when browsing your website. In modern web design, the use of white space is almost mandatory, as it accentuates relevant information for those in a hurry.

White space is the easiest way to direct attention towards a certain subject. It will also make the page look cleaner and airy, like a well-lit room.

6. Call To Actions

CTAs are pivotal elements in guiding the users through your website. When building a CTA button, you need to take into account where you place it, how you design it, and what text you use for it.

Depending on your website’s specifics, you can use a CTA button on each page, but usually not more than one per page.

7. Photography

A website is nothing without visual content. Of course, interesting and quality copy is needed to engage the user, but accompanying imagery makes it that much better.

In modern web design, you will have to make sure that the images or icons you choose are suitable for the theme you’ve selected, the color palette you are using, and the subject of your site.

You shouldn’t use too many photos, as they can slow down your website and make it look too cluttered. Current web design trends encourage using unique, high-quality photos that give the users a glimpse into what your site’s all about.

Also, the more personal the content, the better the user experience.

8. Hero Images

Another popular trend currently is using a full-screen image as a base for your website’s homepage. Known as “Hero images”, they are max-size banner images placed above the fold to grab the attention of the users and pique their interest.

Of course, you’ll have to make sure that the hero image doesn’t make it difficult for the user to read the text that’s above it. If it intersects with your navigation menu, the text must have a contrastive color and a bigger size to ensure clear visibility.

9. Responsiveness

Responsiveness is the website’s ability to look good and function well on any size device. If the user tries to access a section on your website but they can’t because it wasn’t designed for their device’s screen size, they will leave — and you have just lost a customer.

Today’s users access the Web with a number of different devices, and mobile users form a large segment of the audience for any modern website.  And the mobile user becomes more and more important each year.

10. Background Videos

Last, but not least, another trend that has also become popular in modern website design is video backgrounds.  These can be challenging to implement, given that you need to keep the website responsive, but for many site’s the effort is worth it.

They can be used to tell your story in a quick, engaging, and aesthetic manner, and from the moment the user enters your site, their attention will be grabbed by the background video.

The video should include the key points of your work. This way, visitors will know right from the start what your website is about and they can direct their attention to whatever they are interested in without mindlessly skimming through your copy.

Ending Thoughts

Following these basic principles is an excellent starting point for any modern website designer.  Try to lay the foundation of you site using these elements, and don’t forget to add a personal touch to your site to get closer to your visitors.

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