There’s a question designers get all the time: “What’s good design?” and the first response many of us have is “How do we even begin to answer that?” The process is cumulative, subtle, and evolving.
Nevertheless, we understand where this question comes from.
Clients struggling with creating their next visual communication piece might feel at a loss in terms of where to start, or perhaps they’ve started designing a piece and something they can’t put their finger on just doesn’t feel right.
Since the answer really depends on what we’re designing, we’ll start by tackling the answer as it relates to a common project, website redesigns.
Here’s our two cents on what good website design is:
Basic Design Principles
Hierarchies show the difference among and the significance of each of the elements on the page. Successful application of hierarchies between the elements (through the use of different font sizes, color, and the placement of the element) allow the user to digest the content more quickly and to separate or connect elements on the page. This, in turn, allows the user to visually structure and scan the site in order to locate the desired content.
Unity has to do with the elements on the page conceptually or visually belonging to each other. A very thin balance between variety and unity has to be accomplished in order to achieve an exciting, interesting result.
Contrast makes items stand out through emphasis of font choice, font size, color, element size, etc.
The incorporation of white space is an important principle, which increases readability, helps reduce noise and allows the user to perceive the overall design as opposed to individual elements.
Scale defines how each of the elements relate to each other and creates interest and depth.
Simplicity is a major element in order to achieve a successful visual design. The visual design of the page will not take away from the content or the function of the site. Rather it enhances the content and creates a coherent brand image. This builds trust and interest in the user. In order to achieve simplicity, only the elements and functionalities that are most important to the communication are included.
And in case you want even more insight into the complexity of good website design, here are a few more principles we follow.
The style of the site is modern, fresh and clean. Elements that define that include the font choices, the recommended color palette, possible textures, choice of photography etc.
The site encompasses and communicates the brand values clearly throughout its pages. There is a clear look and feel, which communicates these values through the written content, the imagery, icons and graphics.
We use the pre-existing brand guidelines in order to create the visual design for the site, but also build and expand them in order to create a unique digital brand image.
The visual design of the website would be unique and distinguish the organization from its competitors. Competitor research and the analysis of the existing site will allow us to propose global strategy changes, to recommend functionalities and to restructure the site so that it resonates with the user audience.
Content Strategy + Site Architecture
The content created for the site will guide the user in a fluent and structured way, while it will make sure to provide enough information to allow the user to dig deeper into the details and learn more. The user will never be lead to a dead end within a page, not knowing what to do next or what his/her options are.
The user is provided with a consistent and clear conceptual structure.
Content is easy to locate for each of the user audiences.
The site structure will provide a few different kinds of content, providing the user with additional in depth-content. The structure of the site will focus the user’s attention.
Functionality / User Experience
Usability is a major component in deciding whether a visual design is effective and successful.
The user experience is fluent and friendly. The goal for optimal functionality is to always have the user in mind.Functionality throughout the site meets the most recent standards and is as modern as possible without being trendy. Each of the audiences will be addressed through interesting content and imagery. They will feel engaged to explore the site. For the website administrator, the website allows for content to be modular, expandable, and easy-to-update.
Hope this is helpful, and we’d love to hear from you if you think we missed something, or if you have any questions!