Principles of Good Web Design

Website design is about more than the aesthetics of the website — it’s also about the usability and utility of the website. User-centric design focuses on providing accessible features on a website and a layout that is easy to understand and navigate. Understanding how users think and navigate existing websites leads to the principles of good website design, including effective content, focusing user attention, and simplicity.

Effective Content

Users who read websites tend to scan instead of read comprehensively, meaning that large blocks of text without images will often be ignored. Instead, focus on creating content that uses short, meaningful phrases, bullet lists, and/or objective language. Avoid flowery statements and obvious marketing-induced phrases and keep the language as neutral as possible.

Manage User Attention

Using simple techniques to attract more attention, such as bolding important sentences, can be an effective tool in guiding the user to the important parts of the website. The use of images is also commonly used to draw attention, as is a larger font size. All of these aspects should work in concert to provide the user a road map of the website without them having to consciously consider their actions. Ensure that elements are used sparingly to guide the user’s attention, instead of overwhelming them with a bombardment of elements clamoring for attention.

Simplicity

Most users go to a website to obtain information, and keeping the website simple will allow them to do so. Additional and unnecessary design choices can impede the flow of the website. A clean and simple visual theme will ensure users can navigate the website easily without feeling overcrowded.

Make Use of Existing Conventions

Users have expectations of how a website should function, and using these conventions can reduce the navigation time of users visiting a website. Text structure, placement of the search bar, and visual themes all contribute to making a website navigable, even in a foreign language.

While many guides focus on the look of the website, usability should be the focus of website design. Understanding the way users interact with websites and what they are used for provides key insight into how websites should be structured in order to be as accessible and user-friendly as possible.