As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder — and with that in mind, it’s not reasonable to expect everyone to think your website is beautiful. But an experienced web designer knows that beauty shouldn’t be the primary objective when building a website. Functionality and effectiveness are the key; the design must allow the site to fulfill its purpose rather than impeding it.
And so, for our purposes, “good web design” means creating a layout that enables an organization to accomplish its goals, whether that means converting sales, generating leads, or simply providing important information to its customers. Does this mean that a site should be boring? Not at all. It must be attractive but not over-the-top; appealing but not distracting.
The most common characteristics of a well designed site are:
- Simplicity. This is rule number one when it comes to designing a site. A cluttered website will serve no purpose but to divert the user’s attention from what’s important.
- Continuity. It is not necessary to make every page on a site identical, but without a sufficient level of consistency from one page to the next, your site will almost invariably confuse the user, and most importantly, make you look unprofessional.
- Ease of navigation. Without a clear organizational structure, your customers won’t know how to find the information they’re looking for. While on any page, users should be able to jump to any section of your site, and at the same time know exactly what page they’re currently visiting and what section of the site it belongs to.
- Disciplined use of color. Unlike printed materials, color doesn’t cost anything on the Internet, but this is by no means a license to use color recklessly. Two or three complementary colors, along with proper amounts of contrast, go a long way toward creating a more pleasant user experience, while indirectly helping to convey an image of quality and trust.
- Speed. A site that loads slowly might as well not load at all — particularly for users with mobile devices. Make sure your site does not rely too heavily on graphics and unnecessary animations that serve no purpose but to aggravate the user.