web-design-must-be-more-than-prettyDesigning websites isn’t easy. While it may seem like a fairly simple task, especially with all of today’s beautiful themes and drag-and-drop tools, it’s actually incredibly challenging to create a website that stands out. This is largely due to the fact that very few businesses are able to give equal weight to aesthetics and functionality. However, if you’re going to invest your time and money into building a site, it needs to consider both of these things.

Top Design Principles to Consider

While the web design and oil and gas industries are total opposites of each other, there are valuable lessons to be gleaned. Take, for example, the appearance of oilfield equipment. “They may look ugly and obtrusive to most people, but to those of us in the industry the sight of oilfield tanks and drilling rigs is beautiful”, reads a blog from Dragon Products, Ltd.

In web design, the same principles are true. While you’re obviously aiming for aesthetic appeal in web design elements, there’s so much more to a good website. At times, you have to look beneath the surface to grasp the true beauty of a site.

When it comes to designing effective websites that are both attractive and functional, it’s important to consider the following design principles:

  • It’s impossible to design an effective website without first understanding the purpose of the website. You have to uncover these underlying goals if you want to be a successful designer. For example, the same website can take two completely different directions depending on whether the goal is to inform and educate users, or convert them into customers.
  • Effective communication. While you can understand the purpose or goal behind a website, you must be able to effectively communicate this knowledge if you want a website to be successful. This requires careful implementation of color schemes, layout, content, and navigation.
  • “F” pattern design. One of the leading principles in web design is the “F” pattern. This principle utilizes the theory that the average user’s eyes gravitate towards the top and left of the screen. Instead of trying to force the reader’s eyes to other parts of the page, web designers typically design in an “F” pattern that works with the reader’s natural tendencies.

Tips and Examples for Quality Websites

So, how do you excel at both form and function? It requires careful attention to detail and an ability to understand the end user. Here are some tips from leading websites:

  • Keep things simple. One of today’s primary web design goals is to keep things simple, without restricting functionality. Patagonia does a fantastic job of this. Their website eliminates superfluous information and avoids giving users too many distracting options. This ultimately keeps users focused and increases conversions.
  • Guide users. If your goal is to educate users about an innovative product or technology, you have to find a way to explain the concept while simultaneously keeping them engaged. Nest does an effective job of this on their “Meet the Nest Thermostat” It walks users through what they can expect in the first week of the product’s life, using engaging images and smooth transitions to avoid boring the reader.
  • Tell a story. Websites are ultimately storytelling tools. Whether your goal is to sell a product or entertain a user, the website must tell a story. Beagle’s website is a great example of the right way to tell a story. It systematically walks users through the product and clearly explains the value of it.

When it comes to web design, aesthetics aren’t everything. While you certainly need to create a website that’s visually compelling, you can’t forget what’s underneath. Functionality is equally as important and can either aid or hamper your design efforts.

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