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With all this talk about search engine optimization and content writing, it can be easy to underestimate the power of good design. One of the biggest pitfalls business websites and blogs have is that they can get traffic to their site but they just can’t keep people there, and poor design might be the reason why. Here are some web design tips that could help your site be more functional and profitable.

First Impressions Are Key

That old adage about first impressions counting is not only true of job interviews and meeting the in-laws, it’s also true about web and blog design. It’s fine to focus on the functionality of your site by making sure that all the links work, and that pages have engaging, informative content, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice design for functionality. Many web developers forget that design and functionality go hand in hand.

You could have the best, most informative and interesting website on earth, but it won’t be truly functional if the layout isn’t accessible and easy to navigate. Good design and good developing benefit each other, so it’s imperative that you focus on making things look pretty as well as sound good.

Proximity

This might seem like one of the most basic web design principles, but grouping information that belongs together is a really important organizational step for your website audience. This should be done using headings and text, with everything corresponding to the appropriate content. Paragraph headings should be above the text that directly relates to the heading, and the distinctions between segments should be clear, so utilizing blank space can be a pivotal aspect of this process.

Organizing information correctly can make your site easier to work through, which will help your audience to understand where you want their eyes to go. If you put sections too close together or too far apart it can feel confusing or disjointed, so be deliberate and make sure all the information and headings correspond.

Alignment

The jury is still out on what type of alignment works best, so it really depends on what works with your particular site. However, looking at how other sites align their material can really help. If we take social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as examples, we can see a left aligned text with a 3 frame set-up. The main content is in the middle space with blank space on the side. This directs the readers’ eyes straight to the middle because that is the largest segment of the page, and the side panels contain links and menus.

In fact, many websites seem to operate with this central alignment, although many blogs opt for a left alignment so they can have links on the right hand side. As long as you are consistent with your alignment, you can choose whatever you think looks most attractive and is functional.

Repetition

Repetition, or unity, is an incredibly important element of any site, and it can be one of the easiest web design principles to get wrong. The best way to approach your site is to think about what you want to communicate and how to appeal to your specific audience. After discussing who the audience might be and what your goals are, you should then select website features based on those parameters.

If you’re running a business website, it is important that you incorporate your business logo into the design and choose a color that fits your brand and product: if you’re trying to sell computer software and your logo is blue and gray, but your website features a hot pink font, there is going to be some confusion as to what message you’re communicating. Your site needs to reflect your brand and your customers.

Although it might seem exciting to have an array of vibrant colors scattered throughout your website, keeping it all in the family is your best bet. Selecting a color and using hues and shades in the same palette will keep things diverse yet simple, and selecting colors that complement each other will make sure your site is pleasing to the eye.

Similarly, repeating fonts is another basic web design principle that will help your audience to interact with your site positively. Having a different font for every paragraph of information or header will make things feel really disjointed and will confuse the reader as to what the hierarchy of information is, so choosing two fonts and then changing color, boldness, or italicization will create the diversity you want without sacrificing unity.

In addition, it is important that you repeat styles. If one topic heading is bold then all of them should be, and this should be the style for the entire website, not just individual pages. Keeping everything in one style and repeating it will help your website or blog to feel unified and coherent.

Contrast

When choosing website colors, you should pick colors that work well together and contrast with whatever background color you have. Example: having black text on a white background is a lot more effective than red text on a green background. Darker colors on light backgrounds are going to be more contrasting and therefore more noticeable, and you can use the darker colors in your color scheme for headings and subheadings so that they will be emphasized in comparison to the general text, which is usually a lighter color.

Contrast is an important web design principle to remember when creating a hierarchy of information. Viewers expect the most important information to be highlighted, or for color and contrast to indicate what they should pay attention to first. If you do not organize your information with a hierarchy of color, font, and size, it can be confusing for the reader to know what to look at first.

Simplicity: More Is Less

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that more is less, and when it comes to web and blog design, it’s very true. Although your site does need high quality content, it is also important not to clutter things with too much information. Keeping it simple allows the audience to sift through and take in information more easily.

Simplicity in color, font, and other design elements can help to keep your site unified and functional. Having a site that is cluttered and chaotic isn’t going to help anyone get to the information you want them to see, so don’t be afraid to keep things clean, clear, and simple.

Templates

Depending on how adept you are with web or blog design, implementing these principles might be a piece of cake, but for the unconfident web designer, using a template might be the best option. There are a variety of different website and blog templates around, and many of them implement these basic web design principles and are also customizable.

Using a good blog or website template can create great design functionality immediately, freeing you up to work on content and marketing. However, it is important not to underestimate the power of good design, and implementing basic principles can bring your site up a notch and help you deliver the right message to your audience.

Sources

Rawsthorn, Alice. “What Constitutes Good and Bad Web Design?” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/arts/design/what-constitutes-good-and-bad-web-design.html?_r=0. (29 April, 2013).

Shorr, Brad. “7 Blog Design Tips from a Content Strategist.” Six Revision. http://sixrevisions.com/content-strategy/blog-design-tips-content-strategist/. (29 April, 2013).

Tart, Nicholas. “13 Expert-Level Blog Design Tips for Beginners.” Income Diary. http://www.incomediary.com/expert-blog-design-tips-beginners.  (29 April, 2013).