Flashing banners, a kaleidoscope of colours, terrible text and a inharmonious cacophony of sounds all make for a website that’s not only a visual nightmare, but wholly inaccessible. One of the key components of any website, regardless of its purpose, is to offer the user something worthwhile and if your layout is poor it’s almost impossible to bring your message to the fore.
Fortunately, there has been a wealth of research into what makes a website “look good” and what doesn’t. In this article we’re going to outline some of these basic tenets. While not a comprehensive guide into making the perfect looking site, the points raised should show you the best ways to get your message out there without impediment.
Don’t Choose the Rainbow
The manufacturers of Skittles might urge you to taste the rainbow, but one of the biggest mistakes a web designer can make when putting together a new portal is to choose too many colours. Attempting to recreate a Jackson Pollock on the screen is not only an insult to the influential artist, but an insult to a visitor’s eyes. Aside from looking extremely messy and disorganised, a myriad of colours will serve to dilute the website and, moreover, the brand’s identity. Think of a site such as Facebook. In general, two colours are used throughout: blue and white. This simple pattern helps create a much stronger identity.
White Space is OK!
Web designers used to be afraid of white space, but in recent years there’s been a noticeable shift towards white spaces. As websites have been condensed into smaller spaces (think mobile devices), there’s been a growing need for breathing space between page elements and that’s something white space offers. For example, consider an online bingo site such as Titanbet. Because the game itself produces a lot of information (i.e. a plethora of numbered balls), it’s important that there is enough free space for this information to flow. By not crowding the site with boxes, images and colours, online bingo operators are able to get the necessary information to their customers without distraction and at whatever screen size they’re operating with.
Consistency is Key
Another crucial stylistic consideration web designers need to bear in mind is the consistency of their site. Choosing three colours for the homepage and then abandoning this around the site is a huge mistake. Not only does it diminish brand identity, but it loses the overall message the site is trying to convey. A great example of a site that starts a theme and sees it through to the end is Belle Epoque Agency. Using a dynamic scrolling structure instead of click through pages, the layout is consistent all the way through with a background image offsetting a few lines of simple text. Utilising a trend and sticking with it is by far the best way to make a website as engaging and valuable as possible.
Write Something, Then Half It
The final tip in a quadrant of knowledge is the use of text. Online audiences are notoriously fickle and whatever virtues you may have learned during your school days need to be adapted for the internet. Brevity is king in cyberspace and one of the best ways to keep text to a minimum is to write something and then cut out at least 25% of the words used. People don’t want to spend time scaling walls of text to find out what a site is offering. A great example of a site that strips back text to the minimum is Elite. The leading management and talent agency barely uses any words on its site and, instead, relies on bold images to guide the user.
Like fashion, web design is an ever-changing discipline and what’s hot today will be trite the next. However, certain principles will always apply and, if these principles aren’t adhered to, then the site in question will fail in its ultimate goal to deliver something of value to its visitors.