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Back to Basics: Fundamental Principles of a Beautiful Design

Web Design & Dev
MotoCMS Editorial 29 August, 2013

Principles of a Beautiful Design

The human society is constantly evolving, but very few people have the inner discernment to fully observe this fact. Most of us are too obsessed over issues like time and don’t pay attention to this immaterial aspect. Fortunately, there are experts with a passion for studying the society, and due to their research we now have resources to find out how people lived in the past. You don’t have to be a historian to see that the mankind history is marked by some checkpoints – that period of time when an invention/an event/a revolution changed the “course of time”. For example, it’s impossible not to know about the industrial or digital revolution.

Initially, we, the team behind Moto CMS, believed for some time that this pattern was also valid in web design evolution. After a deeper search, we have discovered an interesting situation: the web design evolution is in fact a revolution. Yeah, web design doesn’t follow the same pattern: evolution-revolution-new evolution; more like it has a special one: revolution-revolution-revolution. The Internet is growing so fast that the design community can’t keep up with the same rhythm, even if it’s “responsible” for this counter-logical situation. The ones who are still not convinced about this, should carefully study the events from the past. The designers didn’t finish the construction of glossy items of the web 2.0, and yet another revolution came into scene: social media. It affected both online and offline environments and by far, its effects haven’t been all processed yet by designers or other experts as advertisers, writers or bloggers. Then again – the handheld devices have put the designers in a big trouble – it’s the main reason why responsive design has emerged. Currently, more discrete devices – Google Glass or similar ones – seem to be representing the new challenge.

In this climate it is absolutely normal to neglect the design’s basic principles from time to time. The purpose of this post is not just to present the state of web design – it’s more pragmatic. Seven basic principles of a good web design are presented here. The web design community has not reached an agreement about the number of worthy web design principles yet – some prefer more while others prefer a reduced list of principles. But either way, we assure you that all of the ideas below are very important for a website’s structure. We do recommend to keep them in mind when designing new layouts – it will have a positive influence.

1. The users aren’t impressed by the web designer’s endeavor

Do you think the Internet is an unlimited resource? Well, we assume that it’s a fair approximation even if there are some aspects that reveal the limits of the network. The users are aware that it’s impossible not to find out the required information using the Internet. The consequence is simple: no one will spend his time visiting a single website. If the users don’t find the necessary information, they will instantly leave the website, no matter how attractive it is. Yep, in the era of an unlimited Internet, the endeavors of the designers are simply ignored; a wonderful and usable layout is something normal. It’s true, this “principle” isn’t strictly connected to web design, but it has its importance. In fact, it prepares the designer for the worst, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, the Internet is still very populated with low quality websites. We tried to offer our clients only top quality design templates, but we constantly need your feedback. Do you find these templates interesting enough for your next projects?

2. A website should be created for visual scanning

The experts didn’t confirm this, but many designers are 100% sure that the Internet users have developed a new sense: they manage to scan a website in just a few seconds instead of carefully reading every line of text! It’s not an exaggeration; an experienced Internet user can almost instantly form a first impression about a website. This new sense is the result of the evolution: time is a very expensive resource and no one allows the luxury of wasting it. Therefore, the common user tries more and more to get what he needs in less time. Any webpage should respect this principle, otherwise it’s going to be a big fail. A good layout has the most important information in the most visible places and the navigation shouldn’t fatigue the eyes of the users. Simplicity, cleanliness and usability are capital features of a good looking website – these are the ingredients that allow a better scanning of a website. Take a look at some of the examples of website designs that support the principle of being ‘scannable’.

3. Innovation shouldn’t be an enemy of usability

Many economics experts state that the solutions to overcome the global crisis (past or present, depending on each country) is an innovation. Unfortunately, this principle isn’t all that valid in web design. Innovation is welcomed as long as the usability is not hurt. People adjusted their behavior for a specific type of navigation and modifying it means forcing them out of their comfort zone.

This fact isn’t equivalent with the idea that a designer should create only standard websites, no way! Just make sure usability isn’t harmed.

4. A layout should be self-consistent

Undoubtedly, a layout must be self-consistent, but how can this be achieved in practice? It’s not simple, but it’s achievable. Firstly, in order to have a self-consistent layout it’s mandatory for the website creator to have an initial plan. This should contain the purpose of the online presence and the layout should be created in strict accordance with it. Secondly, the designer should choose the fonts used, the color combination and the style of the layout to match each other. A website is an entire unity rather than just a set of components!

5. Hierarchy makes it easier to understand the information

The main purpose of a website is to offer information – no matter how far the Internet will evolve, this goal will remain the same. Many designers (according to our humble opinion – way too many designers) divide a website into two big components: design on one side and content on the ither. And in their minds, the latter is sole “responsible” for providing information. This delimitation is very useful, it makes it easier to create a website, but as we have mentioned previously, a website is a solid entity, not a collection of structures. A good designer knows that the design also offers information; it’s more discrete but it can’t be neglected. The best option of offering information through design is by creating a working hierarchy. A website shouldn’t contain unnecessary information, but some ideas are more important than others. In order to help the visitors, it’s capital to assure a perfect visual hierarchy. In this way, everyone can make a better idea about what is more important and what is less important. The layouts below are good examples of how to create a working hierarchy by combining alignment, colors, white space and shapes.

6. Colors may ruin a website

A few days ago we posted an article about the power of colors, and we do recommend reading it. The conclusion of the post is simple, but truly important: a designer can’t ignore the colors! They have enough power to enhance a website, but at the same time, they may ruin a website.

7. Typography: small details make the big difference

Web designers are usually under pressure and this climate isn’t very appropriate for high quality results. In this context, there is no wonder that sometimes they make mistakes or wrong decisions. A very common mistake is to neglect the fonts used! The types are small and apparently negligible but it’s totally wrong to embrace this idea. Small details make a big difference, therefore it’s much better to pay more attention to font selection. Also, it’s very important how the designer makes font combinations; the same applies to the colors, the pairing of two beautiful fonts doesn’t mean it must have an awesome result.

This is it for now, thanks for reading! We hope that this article has brushed up your web design basic knowledge. Don’t forget to apply these principles in practice. Also, we are gladly waiting for your interesting thoughts about the basic principles of web design – you are welcome to leave your comments. The more opinions, the better!

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Author: MotoCMS Editorial
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