Ask a Designer: What Makes a Well-Designed Website?
Who’s to say whether a website looks good or not? Well, beauty is typically in the eye of the beholder, but there are certain things that are necessary for a website to look good, regardless of who the judge is. I’m sure you’ve often heard about this or that number of good design principles, but today I’m going to simplify things for you and give you 5 musts for a well-designed website.
Consistency, consistency, consistency. Although that was annoying for me to type and for you to read, repetitiveness is a good thing in the world of design. A website that is cohesive and has an overall beautiful style that is congruent on every page will undoubtedly turn out better than one that has a different color palette and style per page.
Website design, or branding for that matter, is not the time to play it safe. Take a step out of your comfort zone and do something that hasn’t been done before. Try a color palette that’s new to your industry, or create a great first impression on your home page with a unique user-interaction. Creativity exists for a reason, and there are endless design possibilities; you just have to be brave enough to give them a try.
The photos you use on your website can make or break your entire design. You may have the best design there ever was, but if your photos are all blurry, unprofessional, or unappealing, then your site will quickly become the ugliest there ever was. That may sound harsh, but it’s the honest truth. Now, I know investing in a new website is a big feat, so many of you won’t have a dime to spare on professional photography services as well, but you’re in luck. Fortunately, there are tons of great resources for stock photography sites (even free ones!), and if you spend enough time searching, you’ll find a bunch of images that are perfect for your website.
As I just mentioned about your website’s imagery, the font selection and color palette you pick can also make or break your website. Don’t use outdated typography or fonts that don’t go well together. Typically any color palette can work with a design so long as it’s to your liking, but make sure the colors in that color palette actually look good together. Just because the 5 colors in your palette all look fantastic on their own doesn’t mean they’ll look fantastic side by side.
Most websites are designed on a grid system for a more structured and professional appearance. However, sometimes people prefer a website that isn’t quite so disciplined. That’s perfectly ok, but check your alignment. In other words, make sure there’s plenty of white space versus content; double check that you’ve included enough imagery so it doesn’t seem like text is overrunning your site. And lastly, you want the spacing between your text characters and lines to be just right. Your content should be spaced so that it’s easy on the eyes and quick to skim. If your lines or letters are too far apart or too close together, your website may become difficult to read, but even worse, it will ruin the entire design.
What do you consider to be the most important characteristic of a well-designed website? What do you think can ruin a website’s design the quickest?