Not everyone has the skills and expertise to know what it takes to create a really successful website, which creates high demand for the services of website designers. Successful website design requires a fine balance of creative talent and technical ability making a it a highly skilled process.
The success of a website is often largely dependent on usability and utility, how visually appealing it is a secondary factor. Taking an approach focused on the needs of the user website has become industry standard for website over the past years as the visitor to the website is ultimately in control of what functions within the site they use, link or button hidden from the users view, or that is broken may as well not exist at all.
User centered design, or usability means that the designer will build the website around the users needs and requirements, considering at every stage how to give them a more effective and enjoyable experience.
When designing a website it is a good idea to take conversions into account properly. Even a very good conversion booting tactic won't have much effect if the overall website looks awful.
Design isn't just confined to the work of designer, it incorporates many areas of business including marketing and mechanics of your products. The more information you can learn about design skills the greater your chances will be of success.
One of the key aspects for good website design is the consideration of visual hierarchy, this is the order in which the users' eyes will register each item on the page, as human eye is more likely to process images quicker than others.
Certain areas of a website will be more important to its use than others, when designing a website it is a good idea to prioritize items according to importance, a link to payments or products would be more effective if it was more prominent than links to other less important parts, like help pages. A good website designer will consider how to make sure the main links are easily noticeable for the user and simple to find.
When prioritizing items for a website consider what the main aims are for the site and how it may help your business grow, try and place items in order according to their relevance to this, or it can be hard to give your website an overall theme.
Make things obvious and don't make the user thinkUsing and navigating a website should be as simple as possible for people visiting it, a website will unclear links and information will cause the user to become confused and have difficulty when finding their way around the site.
An effective website site will be designed so the site architecture and navigation are intuitive, enabling the user to see how to complete their task a lot more easily, this can be achieved with the use of clear structure, visual clues and small visual clues this can be achieved.
LearnabilityEnsuring a website has learnability will greatly improve its usability, people generally prefer to be in situations that they recognize and understand, this theory is applied in website design. By making use of what people already know and incorporating elements of it into your own website you will make it far more attractive to use for new visitors.
Creating an intuitive interface that doesn’t require many directions will give a website a much higher chance of success. Using effective design concepts that are popular within other sites on the web, that a user may already be familiar with, is a good way of ensuring your website fits a consistent pattern, meeting the expectations of visitors.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
Keeping the design of a website as simple as possible will ensure it is straight forward to use, most visitors to a site will be more focused on completing their task than how intricate or visually attractive a website is.
A theory applied to web design is Occam's Razor, the main idea behind this is that a website should be kept as simple as possible. This principle is based looking at the information to be included on the website and choosing what items and options are most relevant by ruling out unnecessary possibilities or information that have little use, and only keeping those that are essential.
Using the golden ratio
All good website designers recognize the importance of balance and harmony within the layout of a site, this is something that many people, even experienced designers struggle to achieve. This is more of a creative than technical aspect as attention needs to be paid to the visual appeal and flow of the page.
The Golden Ratio is a concept used by artists, architects and other design professions, as well as website designers to ensure projects have a good degree of proportion and awareness of space.
The rule of thirds
Using visual images always enhances a website, a picture can convey a lot more than words in a much shorter time.
When choosing and placing images an effective method to use is the rule of thirds, mentally draw two horizontal and two vertical line through the image, creating nine equally sized sections, then make sure important aspects of the composition are placed around the lines or intersections to be sure it will appear balanced.
Using large, eye catching images will bold colors work well on websites, creating something to attract the users attention and making the site more appealing.
Respecting Hick's LawHick's law states that the more decisions there are to be made the more time will be taken to reach a specific goal.
Being presented with many options and chooses will make a website very complicated and difficult to use and will put people off using it. To make a website more effective and easy to use it is advisable to get rid of any unnecessary distractions to the user and to limit choices and options as far as possible.
If your website contains a lot of information or products the use of effective filters is key in making navigation as simple as possible.
The proper use of white space is very important when designing an effective layout for a website, many people underestimate this aspect. Good use of white space divides information clearly, making it far easier for the user to clearly identify what they are looking for.
If your website contains a lot of information it is imperative to carefully consider the layout and use of white space, using the principles of visual hierarchy and applying Simons Law (that hierarchical structures reduce complexity) to ensure your layout is attractive and easy to understand.
Gestalt design laws
Gestalt psychology states that "the whole is different to the sum of parts" and Gestalt psychologists have created a set of principles reflecting this, referred to as "the laws of perceptual organization".
Gestalt principles are based on how people are likely to group smaller objects together making them appear to be part of one larger group, creating a sense of similarity between the items;
Law of proximityItems placed in close proximity to one another are likely to be perceived as together or part of the same group, it is important to bear this in mind when planning the layout of a website.
When designing a website make sure items that are relevant to one another are placed together, while others are placed further away and are clearly separated.
Law of continuityFollowing the laws of continuity will ensure a website has a clear professional appearance, make sure that the format of your page maintains a uniform feel and that every element incorporated appears balanced and in proportion.
Law of closureTo make a website really effective it needs to appear as if it has been properly finished, when certain things appear unfinished or not whole we will use our own perceptions to finish it ourselves.
Without the law of closure shapes and lines can appear unfinished making it hard to perceive an object properly.
Making sure everything on a website appears finished and complete will enable ease of use, improve appeal and look a lot more professional.
Law of symmetryThe mind will automatically create a central focal point when looking at a website and order other items around it. By using the law of symmetry and making a website similar on each side it the user will find it easier to find relevant information as the layout will be more suited to their perception.
Law of common fateAs people are more likely to perceive things according to how they are visually presented and can create connections between items and form conclusions based on how they are first seen, making sure different items are kept clearly separate is a good way to make a website layout work effectively.
This can also be used to ensure people are attracted to the features you want them to use by ensuring they are close to similar information or items that they are more likely to need to look at.
Testing will always remain a key part of the web design process
Properly testing a website before putting it on line if key to making sure it will succeed, ideas that seem fine during the design process may not be so good when put into practice.
It is a good idea to test a website at each stage as if you are a potential user, it may even be a good idea to ask someone who knows nothing about what you are trying to achieve to test if for you and give you some feedback.
Although a lot of issues will usually be small glitches that are easily solved, if a website has a lot of small issues it will dramatically impact of the overall experience of the user, once something has been addressed remember to test it again as it may require more work.
Carrying out usability tests is a very helpful tool in the website design process, even if the design is fundamentally flawed and the layout it totally wrong, everything is a learning process and the lessons that you learn will help improve projects in the future.
via Design Your Way