8 Key Elements of Great Web Design
December 15, 2014
Great designs aren’t built by tools – they’re built by human beings, and this isn’t a cheesy pearl of wisdom – it’s a well-established fact. There’s a lot of thought, work, testing and reiterations of iterations that go into a design project before it goes live.
Without a doubt, great web design is reliant upon several factors that need to amalgamate together in a finely-tuned balance.
But it takes a while to get started. And how do you know what goes into building a great website? You obviously know when you’re looking at something wonderful, but where do you begin to deconstruct the process of building up?
How do we build beautiful, functional websites?
For starters, it’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to walk through several steps before you get to your end product. Again, it’s important to remember that designers need to strike a balance between their design process, their artistic talent and their technical skills.
So without further ado, here’s the breakdown.
The Human Touch
1. Understand your audience
Make this your mantra: all audience groups are not created alike. Take a look at these websites created for different purposes. The common factor tying them all together is a great understanding of their audience and excellent UI/UX.
Every site here knows exactly what their audience wants and provides is quite clearly.
Site: Gaadi.com | Vertical: Automobile
Site: Zomato.com | Vertical: Food & Beverage
Site: Gaana.com | Vertical: Music
Site: Make My Trip | Vertical: Travel
Site: Snapdeal.com | Vertical: e-commerce
2. Figure out your creative process
As creative people, we need freedom to follow our own processes for getting things done. And that can’t happen until you understand your creative process. Do you know where you find inspiration for a design? Do you need to sketch first? Do you need to think things through first or do you just dive right in with a project? Do you need frequent breaks or do you have marathon work sessions? Gaining a close understanding of your creative process will help you plan your work in a more efficient manner.
And if all else fails, there’s nothing like a great panic session to get productive!
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3. Organization and Basics
Does this look familiar to you?
Image Courtesy: designjournalsos.blogspot.com
Image Courtesy: designbeep.com
The importance of getting yourself organized, putting your thoughts down on paper and making your design tangible can’t be understated.
Nothing good ever came from not thinking things through. Especially not for visual artists!
If you’re an experienced web designer, you’ll be able to look at a client’s requirements and determine whether certain standardized elements are still necessary or they’ve become redundant.
And these don’t need to be major changes. Removing smaller elements like search boxes, multiple lead forms on the home page and irrelevant links can improve the UI/UX for your audience.
1. Responsive Design
As the demand for mobile device-based browsing grows faster than we can keep up with, building responsive designs isn’t a luxury or an add-on for web design packages available at agencies. Rest assured, responsiveness in design is now a core value and requirement and it’s not going away.
2. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Simplify. Everything. Your navigation, your content, your images, your HTML files, the amount of inline code you use, your block elements – everything. If it’s not needed, it doesn’t go in there.
This is one of the cleanest designs I’ve ever seen – no wasted words or images. The moral of the story is simple: you don’t want to make your site users struggle to find the information they need or want from you.
3. Don’t Stop Testing
Just for fun, sing that five times fast to the tune of Don’t Stop Believing!
The point is, testing is important. Yes, I know I’m a marketer. And yes I love focus groups. But they have a purpose, people! How will you know whether your design is efficient and beautiful and connects with the right people if you don’t test it?
Think about it. I’ll wait for my answer.
As a web designer, you know how important typography is for your design to be received well. The typography you choose sets the tone for your website; it directs navigation and leads the audience from one section to the other, i.e. supports the structure and flow of your content.
Take a look at some of these AWWWards winners:
Additional Reading: The 7 Elements of Modern Web Design
Of course there’s a ton of other stuff to bear in mind, for instance things like paying attention to details, focusing on the quality (uncompromising aesthetics), PSD management and cross-discipline communication for the maximum benefit to your clients.
But, for obvious reasons, I’m going to wrap it up at the top 8 elements I feel must be considered before a great website gets designed.
If there’s anything you feel needs to be added on here, leave a comment! And don’t forget to share this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it!
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