5 Main Web Design Rules
The British Magazine “Behaviour & Information Technology” once published an article about Canadian psychologists who experimentally confirmed the critical number for developers. That number helps them understand how much time a person needs to estimate the result of their job, which is one website page. Earlier, they supposed that human brains were not able to understand the sense of anything presented on the page less than within 500 milliseconds.
The practical research shows another result. It is enough for the user to spend 10 times less time on the page to have their opinion about the web resource they got into. And of course, if your website has not made a positive impression on the user during 1/20 part of a second, he or she is most likely to go and look for another resource. That’s sad, isn’t it?
The design of every website is to solve exactly this problem. The first goal of a designer is to make a person hold their sight and stay on the page to go on exploring it and looking for some required information. People can estimate anything very fast, and the process is based only on their emotional reactions. And if a designer can attract the user at least with one element of the page, the user can probably neglect other failures when looking at that very “point”.
As practical experience says, such a “point” can be about the “feeling” of a website in general, its usability (a complexed positioning of user interface elements that creates a comfortable and user-friendly environment). Modern humans can feel the website atmosphere, the level of communication with users and overall view perfectly, even if they don’t have certain education in the field of design.
Basing on the latest web-design trends, users can surely say what they do not like: overuse of so-called photoshop effects of the past generation (“drop shadow” and “bevel emboss”), banal clip arts which can be seen on every road billboard or Internet banner due to their “free” and public nature, and too much information on the page. The website contents have to be original and unique, accompanied by moderate visual effects.
But of course, a designer needs to keep up with certain principles when building the friendly environment.
Always Keep Up With Design Rules… Well, Almost Always
At “school” they probably taught you such things as a consequent positioning of elements, order, symmetry, golden section, etc. You really should keep up with these rules of web design to create the friendly structure which could be easy to perceive. Still, sometimes you need to step away from the rules, to break the stereotypes a bit. You should not forget about diversity, contrast, and accent.
For instance, there are websites where you won’t find symmetry. But you can find a balanced wrong form with accented elements. These are the things to catch the user’s eye.
There are pages with asymmetry, high contrast, and accent. All in one. Bright and attractive.
And there are sites which are a bit chaotic at the first glance. But if you look more attentively, you can find a certain sequence and order on the page, too. This “secret” order is exactly what lets the website have a quite friendly and easy structure.
Rule 1. Use Icons and Pictures for Visual Communication
There are certain icons perceived by the user explicitly. Don’t neglect them: a magnifier (search), house (homepage), and a diskette (saving). These pictures are integrated into the mind of almost every human in the world, so use them bravely. They are “road signs” which people read and recognize instantly, without even thinking about them.
Rule 2. Use Unique and High-Quality Content Only
Never use common pictures, low-quality pictures or non-professional photos. Pictures form the face of your website. They are the first to attract the user’s attention.
Rule 3. Color is a Design Element, not a Decoration
A color is the main element, the key rule of web design. Colors speak with users, colors tell them exactly what you wanted to tell with the help of displays. Choose a color to support the content, not to decorate it. Do you use a big photo on a website? Take colors from that photo to create support for the contents and to make one unified atmosphere.
Rule 4. Use Fonts Supporting Your Information
Never use more than three fonts at a time. Choose one which suits big titles perfectly, one for comfortable text reading, and one for calls, quotes or other moments which are to be underlined and highlighted.