13 Web Design Rules You Should Never Break
Even though many insist that rules are there to be broken, there are simply some rules one should never break. After all, rules are there for a reason – especially when it comes to web design.
You see, in an online environment, website design is responsible for that first impression – and the general appearance, visual appeal, and the communication of the value and purpose of a website.
Websites are also growing more extensive, more complex, and demanding, so the challenge of designing a website increases, too. Therefore, web design rules must apply as web context – and its interpretation is one of the most challenging parts of web development.
Online presence is vital, and specific web design rules are just as crucial in the design profession. Imagine if web designers didn’t follow the rules; we’d be looking at horrendous designs and lose trust in businesses and their competence.
You can always count on Eggs Media, our web development Toronto company, for the best web design.
The poor design has a tremendous effect on potential clients and may lead to losing leads, projects, and loyal customers. So, let’s dive in and see which unique and vital web design rules you should never break.
Web Design Rules To Follow On All Your Site Pages
If you hope to make a great first impression – and potentially land new clients – several factors are extremely important. Some things must be your top priority when designing a website, so your visitors will not only want to keep exploring but want to come back, too.
Today, there are over a billion websites that people might visit, which implies there is a lot of competition for you.
Let’s dive into vital information about what makes a good website. If it feels like information overload, don’t worry – it can feel like that at first until you get the gist. But remember that it’s all essential information.
1. Semantic Markup
The first practical tip we have for you is to pay attention to semantic markup.
Hold up – what is semantic markup anyway?
For those unfamiliar with this phrase, semantic markup basically refers to the specific way one writes and structures HTML – aka Hypertext Markup Language.
HTML should be written and structured to reinforce and emphasize the semantics of a website’s content rather than its appearance. So, the main point regarding semantic markup is the importance of separation between a website presentation and its content.
How does that relate to web design rules?
Semantic markup impacts a website’s hierarchy of content – which is yet another rule you shouldn’t break – ever. It also determines the way users and machines, respectively, read it. HTML is about semantics and accessibility – meaning both need to be implemented correctly and in line with these rules. So, by following the HTML tags, the web design rules become much easier to follow, as they’re chosen based on the significance and structure of your website’s content.
Why is semantic markup significant – and a part of our web design rules list? It can affect your SEO, accessibility, help create clearer content, and more.
2. SSL Certificates
To create an aesthetically pleasing and secure website, you need to follow one of the most important website design rules – having an SSL Certificate.
If you want the website visitors to feel comfortable and confident, SSL is a must-have. Would you want to explore a website that’s not safe to use? Of course not – and neither do your potential clients.
In a nutshell, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificates are security measures for websites. They are proof that a website comes from a trusted third-party company. If the certificate’s valid and trusted, further communication occurs under a secure connection.
Why does having an SSL Certificate matter?
SSL Certificates affect your search engine rankings. Google boosts ranking on search engine result pages for sites with the SSL Certificate. More precisely, if your competitor’s website has an SSL Certificate, title tags, and up-to-date content, and your website doesn’t, the chances are you’re going to rank lower.
Moreover, SSL Certificates affect your conversions directly. How? Well, let’s just say that you’ll have a hard time generating new leads if your website doesn’t have an SSL Certificate. That happens because Google Chrome displays the “Not Secure” message in the location bar as a warning sign for your website’s visitors.
3. Typography & Readability
Typography’s an indispensable aspect of web design. It means that your website – and its content – should be organized into effective and meaningful layouts in such a way as to draw attention to a particular block of text.
There are two main types of typography:
- Macro Typography – The overall text structure of a document
- Micro Typography – More detailed aspects, like the font type and type systems
The latter type is what we’ll focus on here. It deals with various elements, including color, font, and text, that make your website distinct in the eyes of the visitors. Plus, typography is directly related to the readability of a website.
The way you design – and construct – the visual language of your site can determine its success. It also affects the responsiveness of your page design, as web design makes up 95% of typography. In essence, typography can enhance, create, and alter the meaning of the visual language that each page presents.
One of the main web design rules has to do with the visual and content hierarchy. That’s crucial because it directly affects the viewer’s focus once they visit your website.
So, it’s essential to understand how users view and process the information you present so that you can avoid confusing visitors.
You can use different layouts to direct focus and attention to visual elements, one of them being the Z-Pattern – one of the main patterns and layouts in web design. The Z-Pattern design layout traces the exact route that the human eye travels when visitors read the content on your website.
5. Rem-Based Layout
To develop a design that’s both accessible and responsive, another critical rule is to use relative units for font size. One useful component in typography and page layout, for example, is the rem-based layout.
The rem unit defines fonts in relative terms rather than using an absolute size in pixels. In CSS Layout, for instance, specifications are done using the rem units, the multiple of the root font size of the page.
In simple terms, the rem unit ensures everything on your website is flexible depending on the root font size of a document. Moreover, if the browser’s default font size changes, so do your pages’ text accordingly – and that allows you to scale the website design dynamically, making it more responsive.
While your website’s design must be visually pleasing, many users are not visiting your site for that reason only. They usually want to find something or get something done – and you better make sure they can do it quickly and efficiently.
So, having both great design and making your website intuitive and straightforward guarantees an excellent user experience. Simply put, decorative elements that add nothing to the functionality of a website can annoy users and cause them to have more difficulty in accomplishing their objectives.
From a UX design perspective, simplicity is vital. You can achieve simplicity by using elements such as:
Essentially, don’t go overboard. A rule of thumb here is around five colors – plus or minus two – depending on shades, hues, etc. Adobe Photoshop and adobe illustrator are the best tools for great website design.
Nothing overly artsy, and very few script fonts, if any, should be used in your typeface selection. To minimize background color distractions, make the text color bright and contrast it with the backdrop color. The general recommendation is to use up to three distinct typefaces in up to three different sizes.
Graphic design is also an important part. Use visuals only if they help a user complete a goal or execute a critical function, i.e., don’t just include images for the sake of it.
How to choose a color scheme that suits your brand?
Color, like typography, has the ability to influence not just how we comprehend and engage with text but also how we feel about it. For example, your scheme should:
- Strengthen your brand’s identity
- Make your website simple to navigate and read
- Elicit an emotional response
- Avoid colour discord in the site’s design
- Look attractive
And one more thing: Use a light background!
Make sure to check competitors’ sites and how they have designed their websites.
What is white space?
The negative portions in any composition are referred to as “white” or “negative” space. It gives users visual breaks as they analyze the design or go over the site’s most important information. Whitespace makes it easier for people to concentrate, digest information, and understand what’s important by reducing distractions.
You can use whitespace to minimize info overload or analysis paralysis – and draw attention to key pieces on the page. If you want to entice a user to take action, for example, subscribe or buy something, you shouldn’t skimp over this part of the design.
Don’t forget to include images that will interest and inform your visitors.
In web design, striking a balance between text and images is critical. Including images in your material can help make it more informative, interesting, and memorable. Many of your visitors will find it easier to learn and comprehend information when presented in a visual style, i.e., on an image.
That being said, don’t just include any images. Make sure to carefully select each image so that it goes with the tone, color, and overall design of your site.
8. Visual Hierarchy
The visual hierarchy is a factor in the design of websites that relates to the concept of simplicity. It refers to the arrangement and organization of website components in a way that causes users to naturally favor the page’s most important elements first.
Remember that the primary goal of usability and user experience design optimization is to assist users in taking the desired action in a way that feels natural and pleasant.
You may always alter the position, color, or size of elements to make them more appealing to readers by moving them higher up in the layout, adding contrast, or making them bigger. Visual hierarchy is just as important as any of the other principles we’ve discussed so far.
It’s critical to map out simple site navigation so that your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for. The visitor should be able to arrive at your site and not have to figure out what to do next. Getting from A to B on your site should be as simple as ABC. Here are some suggestions regarding improving your site’s navigation:
- Keep your site’s primary navigation straightforward.
- In your site’s footer, include a navigation button.
- Breadcrumbs should be used on every web page, with the exception of the home page, to assist visitors recall their visit path.
- Include a search bar at the top of your site (right or left corner) so that visitors may conduct more detailed searches.
- Offer a limited number of navigation options on each page. Remember, keep things simple!
- Make sure there are links in your page text to direct readers to other sites.
- Make sure users don’t have to dig too far.
- Make a simple wireframe map of your website’s pages using wireframes. The homepage is the top layer, with each connected web page from the preceding layer serving as the next. It’s best to keep your map to a maximum of three tiers deep.
Maintain consistency once you’ve decided on your site’s main (top) navigation. Your navigation should have the same clear labels on every page and be in the same place – which brings us to our next point.
In addition to maintaining consistency navigation-wise, the general appearance and feel of your site should be consistent throughout all site pages. Backgrounds, color scheme, typefaces, and even the level of formality of your text are examples of how consistency can have a positive impact on usability and user experience.
Mind you, that’s not to argue that every page should have the exact same design. You merely want to be consistent so that the user feels the natural flow when exploring your site.
Create various layouts for different types of pages, but make sure they go with the overall web design. Ensure that the color scheme, the appearance of menu items, any interactive elements, and so on, are coherent. For example, if the search bar is located in the top left corner, keep it there throughout your website design.
Do not use too many fonts, and don’t make certain elements stand out too much – unless they’re important elements, of course.
Your site must be compatible with the users’ multiple devices to ensure an outstanding user experience. That’s referred to as responsive design in the tech realm.
Every excellent web designer realizes that almost half of all site visits come from mobile users. That means mobile-friendliness is essential if you want to have a successful site. It also means you have to include some additional things in your website design process – for example, screen sizes, mobile-friendly interactive components, proper images, image sizes, etc.
Screen sizes are particularly important as you’ll get a website visitor from both mobile phones and tablets, so you want to ensure all the elements are displayed correctly for all online users.
Providing a fantastic experience for every single user across several devices is more important than your site looking identical across those devices.
It’s worthwhile to verify your website’s cross-browser compatibility, too. You’ve likely only used one web browser to visit your site – whether it’s Chrome, Safari, Mozilla, or anything else. It’s now time to open your sites in each of these browsers and see how your elements look. There should be little difference in presentation in theory – but you won’t know for sure unless you see it for yourself.
12. Web Page Accessibility
The objective of web accessibility is to create a website that anyone, including those with impairments or restrictions, can access without difficulty. As a website designer, you have a responsibility to include these people into your UX strategy.
Responsiveness, in addition to how well a website performs, is one of the most important factors that Google considers when determining whether or not to rank it.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of web accessibility standards established by the W3C and the Web Accessibility Initiative. These regulations stipulate that websites must adhere to the following criteria:
- Perceivable: Your website’s material is well-known to visitors.
- Operable: You should be able to use your website in a variety of ways.
- Understandable: All content and notifications are simple to comprehend.
- Robust: Your website is compatible with a variety of assistive technology tools, devices, and browsers.
The difficulty of balancing creativity and expectations is a major issue in web design. Most of us are seasoned Internet users who have established certain standards over time, such as:
- The top (or left side) of the page is where you’ll find the main navigation.
- A logo should be placed in the upper left (or middle) of a page.
- Adding a link to the site’s logo so users may always return.
- The color and appearance of links and buttons change when you mouse over them.
- An icon with a shopping cart symbol (if the site is about commerce) and a number badge on the icon indicating how many items are in the basket.
- Manual rotation buttons are included on the picture sliders.
While some might choose to toss these out of their websites for the sake of originality, that is a mistake.You still have a lot of room for uniqueness within the limitations of web conventions.
You can create a memorable user experience while satisfying the needs of your users. Site visitors can – and likely will – become confused or even frustrated with your site if you go against their expectations. Also, make sure you include your full contact details on your website.
Website design is, undoubtedly, in huge part subjective, even in digital marketing. However, the above-described web design golden rules are proven to work. Following these web design golden rules will ensure that your visitors not only enjoy browsing your site but that they’ll want to return over and over again, too.
It’s not bad to take an example from your own experiences with poorly designed websites and go from there. Also, put your visitors first – what kind of experience do you want to offer them? Keep this in mind throughout the entire design process, and you’ll be all set!
Get in touch with the Eggs Media team today! We can definitely explain these web design golden rules further once you engage with us on your next website design project. Contact us now!