11 Good Design Principles Every Business Should Know
Whether you’re experienced with design or just getting started, there are some fundamentals to good design. Here are 11 design principles everyone should know.
There’s no substitute for good design. Even if your website offers the best services at the lowest prices, people aren’t going to engage with your content if it isn’t presented in a way that suits them.
It’s essential. So, even if you don’t have a background in design, you still need to know something about it when it comes to your business. Whether you’re doing the web design yourself or hiring out a designer, at some point you have to make the final decision on what ends up on your site.
Look over the following principles to familiarize yourself with what good design looks like.
1. Functionality is Key
Before we can create an innovative and appealing product, we need to understand which things work and which do not.
We’ve all visited websites that have too many elements at work. We’re trying to click on the contact page but we can’t because the page is too bogged down with extra features to load or scroll. As we wait for the page to load, we’re asked if we want to play “Snake” while the page gets ready to view.
This stuff is all unnecessary. Sure, it’s nice when we have a lot of features that work in our favor but the purpose of a business website is to allow access to information and services.
If nothing else, make sure that the site is easy to use. Have clear site architecture that follows an order and allows users to find what they are looking for. A beautiful design will only work to your advantage if the building blocks of the site are in place.
2. Make Sure You’re Consistent
Consistency here has two meanings. First, make sure that your site is consistent with the general form of most websites online. That doesn’t mean you can’t branch out, it just means that you need to have a site that people will be able to understand and use intuitively.
Trying to use a site that’s arranged in a foreign way is like trying to read a foreign language– there may be some similarities between English and Spanish, but it’s a heck-of-a-lot easier to read in a language you’re used to.
Try and keep the general template consistent with what users are used to seeing. You want their experience to be an intuitive one.
Second, you want the pages within your site to be consistent with one another. There are a lot of things that can vary within a website, and you want those things to remain cohesive throughout.
The first thing to look for is the consistency of your web elements. Things like your headers, sidebars, navigation bars, and footers should all remain in the same places. That way, people won’t have a hitch in their steps when they’re moving about the site.
Next, consider things like headings, fonts, images, and colors. Taking a critical look at any website reveals the fact that there are a number of places where font and color are slightly changed. Make sure that the font of a header on one page is the same on the next.
The same goes for colors in specific spots, as well as colors and logos.
3. Design How Your Customer Wants to Feel
People, often times, aren’t buying a product because it is technically better than a different product. They may feel that their product is better, but usually, it’s just an illusion of choice.
It’s usually the way that the product is packaged, designed, and marketed that attracts specific audiences. The weird thing is, people feel differently when they use products that aren’t really different at all. If you want to have a successful site, it requires that you have a decent understanding of your target audience and what they like.
This may require a little legwork before you conceptualize the site. Do a little research and find out what sites people in your demographic are using and enjoy frequenting. This could be done by an email poll, social media questionnaire, or other means.
Once you find those sites that your customers are using, look for consistencies among them and decipher what it is about those sites that people like. Maybe your customers want to feel adventurous, intelligent, part of a movement, or something else.
Maybe there’s a specific font used among the websites that, for some reason, your demographic loves. You’re selling your brand when you design the site, and it’s essential that your brand falls in line with what your users want.
4. Cut out the Fat
If you take a look at an iPhone, or any modern phone for that matter, you’ll see that it’s smooth, with little if any bumps or ridges on it. That’s the trend in design right now.
Simplicity is key, and the more direct you can be, the better. You can be creative and simple at the same time, so this doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your design. The key is to focus more on composition than additional features.
How is your site arranged? Could it be simpler? try to make it so.
5. Make it Clear What Your Product is
Your site should get directly to the point. Often times, people create a website without actually looking at their work from a wider perspective. Getting too pinhole-focused on what you’re doing could prevent you from asking, “is this understandable to the user?”
The first thing that a user gathers from your site is your name, your service, and why you matter. This can all be summed up in the mission statement, but you can’t just bank on people reading it.
Things like color and font also play a role in the user understanding your service. A car website that was loaded with pink colors and frilly fonts would come off as satirical or sarcastic. If not, it would seem unprofessional.
That’s not a dig at the color pink, it’s just an example to show you that people have associations with colors and fonts that aren’t easy to change.
6. Use Color Wisely
Color has a real effect on our emotions and how we perceive things. A lot of research has been done to identify the various effects of color psychology and how it works.
Use color to your advantage by choosing a color scheme that gives off the accurate tone. If you want to do color right, research a little bit about color theory and how to apply different shades to convey different things.
There’s a lot that the average person wouldn’t think off, and you can use that new information to fine-tune your design.
7. Be Careful With Fonts
In the same way as color, variations in font give off distinctly different impressions.
Bakerville Old Face is seen as a font that expresses the reliability of a company. A sans serif font such as Helvetica, Calibri, or Arial is seen as clean. A script font like Bickham Script or Edwardian Script gives off an elegant or affectionate tone.
Brainstorm how you want your site to appear and take a little time to choose a font that reflects that.
8. Be Honest With Your Design
Think about a giant bag of chips that, when you open it, is only around three-fifths full. It’s easy to talk a big game, especially when you’re working online. Building up your image is necessary in a lot of cases, but that doesn’t mean you should be dishonest about your product or services.
9. Make Sure That Everything Works
This goes without saying, but it’s easy to forget. Go through each and every element of your site and make sure that it functions the way you want it to.
That means clicking all the links, using all of the scroll bars, making sure that links go where they’re supposed to and that none of them are dead, and testing out your payment processing system to confirm that it’s in good shape.
10. Keep Up With Changes
Have you ever come across a website that was clearly made a decade ago? Other than Craigslist, it’s doubtful that many sites have luck with the vintage site design.
Make sure that you update the feel of your site any time you think that it’s gotten a little out of date. You don’t want to end up in the graveyard of old sites that people don’t like to use.
11. Be as Interactive as Possible
Your site should allow your users to get in touch with you if they need to. Your ability to respond will depend on your staff and budget, but that won’t change the need for your clients to get in touch with you.
A lot of sites have chat availability, and that’s a great option for users. Whether you have forums to discuss on, chats for people to contact you, or a simple contact page, don’t be a stranger to your customers.
Need a Good Design?
If you’re using any sort of product to market your business, you’ll want to find people who can give you good design for a variety of products.