Design is a language that crosses all boundaries. No matter where you’re from, you can look at a well-designed web page and understand its function. The unique blend of layout, color, fonts and many other basics of web design come together to paint the full picture of a brand.
Even if you’re not a designer, as a decision-maker and a leader in your business, you need to learn about web design basics and be able to speak the language of design to communicate effectively with your design team.
5 Web Design Fundamentals
The Fundamentals of Layout
Since people began learning through reading and text, they have used some kind of a grid or framework to organize the content. There are thousands of variations to it, but fundamentally, information is presented on a flat surface in an arrangement of rows and columns.
That holds true online more than ever, but what is unique today is that your website also needs responsive design so that it can translate instantly onto different screens and different sizes. The arrangement of rows and columns must change to accommodate mobile devices as well as laptops.
The Fundamentals of Visual Hierarchy
It’s very common for people to receive information from top to bottom on paper and onscreen, even though there are some exceptions. Within that framework, there are patterns where people look for signposts and visual cues to guide them through the post.
Visual hierarchy means attaching greater weight to using size, font and placement. Those signposts help build understanding and knowledge of what’s important.
Popular design marketplace 99 Designs explains the subject clearly:
“Good web pages are built in response to measured reading patterns by placing important elements, like the logo, call to action or a key image, along the axes that the reader is expected to scan. These conventionally take either an ‘F’ or a ‘Z’ shape.”
In other words, look to place visual signposts in the patterns we are naturally accustomed to scanning.
The Fundamentals of Using Images
Try to think about how images can tell stories of their own on a web page. Instead of just reinforcing the text, let the images you choose convey even more information about the product, service or subject at hand. Color is a brilliant tool to have, so are 3D, animation and interactive elements that influence your image choices.
The language of design is about images and visual cues, just as much as it is about the language you use.
The Fundamentals of White Space
Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing. That’s true for life and true for web design. Leaving white space and simply allowing the elements on your page to breathe is a vital part of modern web design. “Not only does it help to reduce the cognitive load for the visitors, but it makes it possible to perceive the information presented on the screen,” explains Smashing Magazine.
It’s a delicate balance and one that requires artistic skill and experience.
If you find that too much white space is leaving your site looking half-finished, then the use of gradient color schemes is an excellent way to maintain a minimalist design that still pops.
The Fundamentals of UX
UX — or user experience — is a design philosophy that puts the customer at the center of every decision you make and examines every aspect of the way people use your page.
UX is a whole science on its own and one worth investigating in depth, but if we can offer you one quick suggestion, it’s to build a culture of testing into the process. Don’t try to keep your site hidden away and then do a big reveal like Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone. Test often, test enough content, and know what you’re testing for. Then zero in on what your users are telling you and make the changes.
In this previous blog post, we look at some of the hottest web design trends of 2021.
How To Think About Web Design
It’s important to remember that usability is the goal of great design, not aesthetics. All the bells and whistles mean nothing if the user, sitting alone and engaging with their device, doesn’t take the actions that you want them to take. Your page visitor is the only one who can click that mouse, so your design needs to be all about them.
When they first find your page, users look for anchors to guide them through its content. Their brains subconsciously take in all the visual cues available, as well as the shape, style and tone of the website.
Most people that you’re targeting today are sophisticated and experienced consumers of media, which makes good design even more important. Great design helps people who are in a rush and under pressure to make good choices in their quest to solve a problem or find an answer. Most of us are scanning to find what options are available and then making a choice, click by click, to pursue the simplest course of action necessary to achieve a goal.
Web design should be obvious and self-explanatory. Users don’t want to have to think too hard. Make it easy for them, provide good content and they’ll keep coming back.
Let Us Handle the Fundamentals
At Orpheus, we spend our days solving web design problems with and for our clients so they don’t have to spend all their time learning about web design. The goals are simple but powerful: tell your story, organize your ideas and inspire people to action. That’s what great web designers can do.
So if you are ready for a design partner that speaks the same language as you, then reach out today and request a free quote from Orpheus.