Websites are meant to help users find your organization and, ideally, convert them from mere traffic to actual sales. Part of what makes this conversion possible is having a good website design. Knowing website design principles can help you understand where your current site may be lacking as well as assist you in creating a new, higher-functioning one (whether you DIY it or hire an agency to do it for you). If you want to create a better user experience (UX) and get more sales, this is the article for you. 

7 Website design principles you should be following

Website design principles will take you from “throwing things together that look good” to “curating a website that looks good and functions well.” These are only some of the website design principles out there, but we try to write articles that are both informative and written for those who don’t want to read a blog all day. Some website design principle highlights include:

Make the action easy to do

The main reason visitors are on your website is because they believe you may have something they need. It’s important that, once on your site, it’s not hard for them to get to what they need. Elementor notes that, when the action is difficult or confusing, that’s when you lose the conversion. Whether it’s to buy something, sign up for something, or call for more information, it’s necessary that what the user needs to do next in order to get what they need is as clear as possible. 

Additionally, when there are multiple options for actions that users can take, it’s important that it’s easy and clear which action is which. To optimize clarity, have buttons spaced out appropriately and a “minimum clickable area for mobile designs” of 40 x 40 pixels. 

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Did we mention that a simpler website design is important? When there’s too much happening, too many calls to action, too many options displayed in one area, etc., then users can become overwhelmed with what they’re being presented with and even confused. This can cause it to take longer for a user to make a decision, risking the chance that you even get a conversion at all. This is your website, your business, your bread and butter—not the users. They’re here for one thing and one thing only. 

So, it’s important that, when designing or reviewing the design of your website, you’re looking at it through the eyes of the guests, not the experts. The excess information and content may make sense to you, but is it necessary for the purchaser to make their decision? “To purchase or not to purchase” is the question; getting rid of the clutter and making their next move clear will help them make that decision quicker and more easily! 

Tips for simplifying your website include:

  • Designing a website that utilizes a simple layout
  • Taking out the fluff that’s unnecessary for the user’s decision-making
  • Having calls to action that are clear and make sense with their location
  • Avoiding “complex shapes” and using “simple structures”
  • Organizing the content and design in a way that looks clean and organized

It’s easy for all of us to feel cognitively overloaded. Having a messy, complex, or elaborately designed website can fuel that, creating a not-so-easy UX.

Clearly state why you’re here

According to Elementor, websites often don’t even take the time to tell their users why they’re there. They choose all of their words carefully, not to deliver a clear message, but to deliver a bunch of fluff. Why? Because it sounds good—and if it sounds good, it must be good, right? It may feel obvious to the business owner what their purpose is, but that doesn’t mean it actually is clear to the user. Do you really have what they’re looking for? Make sure that’s stated! 

Webflow notes that, “a website’s messaging and calls to action (CTAs) are key to supporting its goals.” They go on to inform readers that, following the purpose of your organization can help you create a website that’s built around that purpose. By doing this, you’re able to lead your user through an experience where they find out if you have what they’re looking for early on and what their next steps are to getting it. 

Use thoughtful website copy

By thoughtful, we don’t just mean kind, but also well-thought-out. Remember how we noted that you’re the expert but your consumers aren’t necessarily? That plays a big role in the content you choose to write throughout your website. Using industry-specific jargon, advanced vocabulary for the sake of using advanced vocabulary, and filling your content with fluff won’t do anything but confuse the majority of your users.

Ensuring your message is clear, concise, and easy to understand will help navigators understand your organization, guide them through your website, and tell them if you have what they need and how to get it. Additionally, paying attention to SEO will help bring organic traffic to your website by improving your website’s searchability. From the moment you begin designing your website to the finishing touches, paying attention to the content is a must as it will make or break your conversion rates. 

Give users a website they already know

When you visit a new website, what do you typically look for first? Whether it’s a restaurant, retail store, or law office, the bottom line is that most users look for the same web experience from each website they visit. They’re always going to come with a question, search for an answer, and (hopefully) leave after converting to a sale. 

Creating an innovative web design that no one’s ever seen before sounds great. However, it will likely just confuse your visitors and cause them to leave because they didn’t find what they were looking for in the first three seconds of entering your website. 

Take advantage of eye-catching visuals

Visual elements such as images and design can help keep users’ attention as they navigate through your website. Webflow goes on to say that, “photos, illustrations, and other graphics balance out text and break up the web page, giving the eyes a rest from reading.” They can also help tell your brand identity and story and help visitors connect on a higher level with your organization. When deciding what visuals you want to use for your website, consider:

  • Their purpose (are they breathing life into your web design or simply taking up space?)
  • The quality of the image (higher-quality illustrations, graphics, and photography will make a better impression)
  • Whether they’re “on brand” or completely out of place

Visuals are an amazing tool to use throughout your website to create a better, more engaging, interactive UX when done well. 

Put things together that are related

Because of “The Law of Proximity,” items that are placed near each other or grouped together are going to make users think that all of those things have something in common. Whether or not they actually do is what’s important. This idea of grouping works to ease the “cognitive overload” of users. However, content that’s near each other but isn’t related will still appear to be related to visitors of your website. So, it’s important that you’re using this concept to your advantage and not just leaving users wondering why these things are even together. 

Another way that you can group information together clearly is to utilize elements of design and style so that everything in these sections looks related. You can accomplish this by using similar “color schemes, icons, [or] text,” etc. 

By incorporating both of these design principles, you can also effectively group bits of pertinent information together. Grouping together chunks of information is a great way to create a high-functioning web design. It gives users bite-size bits of information that are easier to digest than looking at everything all at once. It’s especially important when your website is going to include a lot of content.

The bottom line

While this isn’t everything you need to know about web design to become an actual paid web designer, it is enough to give you a leg up on your competition. Furthermore, web design is one of the most important elements of a successful website. If you’re reading through this and realizing that your website doesn’t follow enough of these principles, then it’s probably time for a redesign!