Web Design Basics
This section will cover some basic rules to follow to make your sites clean and easy for users to intercat with.
Incorporating good design in a web site is an art in itself so like art there are basic rules to be used as a guideline. Here are some basic rules that should help make your designs clear and consise.
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Cut the Fat
While some design is purposly chaotic and distracting it's a good idea to cut out anything unnecesarry.
When designing try to simplify things to it's bare essentials including navigation, graphics, and forms. Google's homepage is a great example of web minimalisum, the viewer's focus is on one element (the search form field) floating on a large amount of white-space. We should be focused on what is most important and minimise if not delete elements that are less important. The less we ask of from site users the more likely they will prefer to use our site over others.
“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context - a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”
- Eliel Saarinen
Have a Hierachy
Heirachy is the emphisis of more important elements and help us distinguish the more important to the less important.
We use hierachy to add emphisis and move the eye around the page. The larger the size, padding (space around an element), and contrast of an element, the more importantance we put to it. Maybe you want to sign up more members, or highlight the latest news. By using these techniques we can dictate what we want users to see and do first.
“Web users ultimately want to get at data quickly and easily. They don't care as much about attractive sites and pretty design.”
- Tim Berners-Lee
I just need some space
Text and graphics need space from each other to be read and seen clearly.
Padding and margins are your friends. Text just reads much better when you have a bourder of whitespace around it and whitespace in general gives your eyes a place to rest while scanning through a webpage.
"Harmony is the grandest artistic aim"
Using a grid system to line up your elements makes navigating easier
It's easy to follow a page or artical when there is structure to it. Having elements of diffrent sizes is fine but when they don't line-up even slightly they create distractions. Our goal in webdesign is to communicate with a user, not to confuse their sences.
“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
- Douglas Adams
Make it obvious
If you can't explain it to a five-year-old your site is too complex. What may make perfect sence to you may be confusing to others. Try to explain things in their simpilist form.
“Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing... layout, processes, and procedures.”
- Tom Peters
Less is More
Like a cluttered room, too many things going on is repulsive.
Giving someone too many options of having excessive graphics can result in frustration and drive away users. Instead of offering 100 links on your homepage try organizing everything into sections and catergories. Most users will not scan through excessive navigation but by grouping or compiling your pages into smaller portions you can prevent users from getting overwhelmed.
“Good design keeps the user happy, the manufacturer in the black and the aesthete unoffended.”
- Raymond Loewy
ROY G. WTF
Over 32 Flavors are great but not all at once.
Stick to a color pallet that isn't all over the place. Using too many colors can be distacting, instead try having a few colors that bleand well together. There are lots of great color pallets online you can browse to get a feel for what you want to stick with.
“Art has to move you and design does not, unless it's a good design for a bus.”
- Les Brown
Are We There Yet?
Navigation shouldn't be a chore
Obvious navigation is essential. Not only is it frusterating to have to search for what you want but more likely users would rather leave a site than deal with bad navigation. Sure, having symbols or artsy navigation is cool, but it is not very effective at communicating to clients.
"The creative 'act' is a process, not a moment."
Look before you Leap
Know what you're going to do ahead of time.
While it's tempting to just go at it and start putting your site together right away having a settled look and content can save time. It's entriely possible to create a website the way you want it the first try, having a plan will help prevent mistakes or having to redo work.