Principles of Web Design

When I undertake developing a website I always try to keep 3 key principles in mind;

1. Simplicity
2. Modularity
3. Balance

Follow my basic guide and you’ll become a better developer/designer…

1. Simplicity

Your web sites should be designed to be as simple as possible… This is for 2 reasons;

  • Makes maintenance & future work much easier.
  • Make the navigation of the site as simple as possible for your visitors.

This should be applied to design/code & the (URL) structure of your site.

Just to breiefly expand that last one; the (URL) structure of your site – I mean directory structures, page names etc.

2. Modularity

From the start, your web site should be designed in a modular way, that is constructed of modules/components.

How to do this?

  1. Partition the logical sections of your website’s structure.
  2. Extract common elements (header, footer, navigation etc) and use the appropriate mechanism to include these in your chosen platform.
  3. Use external CSS & JS and do not embed them.

Doing this will help you adhere to the first principle and will save you time and effort.

When I see a developer working in this way it’s an indication of maturity and that they know what they’re doing.

3. Balance

Balance

To me it is important to balance how much information is displayed on the page against the aesthetics of the page. If there is too much on there users will struggle to find what they (and you) want to find. On a side note… too much information can equally damage your effectiveness on the search engines as it will make it harder to determine the important content on a page.

Aesthetics

This is simple… keep a good amount of white-space. This will allow your content to be focused on, and keeps your pages easy to read.

So what is the balance in a web designer/coder?

To make you a better designer or to make you a better coder you need to know a bit of both worlds.

If your web site is not aesthetically pleasing ultimately your site will fail as your visitors will not wish to come back! So keep in mind the layout and usability of your site.

My closing words are to those who are not really a designer or a coder… to those who rely on the likes of visual tools (Dreamweaver etc) you will ultimatley end up with a mass of messy code which is very hard to keep up-to-date and maintain.

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