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5 killer web design tips that will make your life easier

Illustration by Kristina Zmaic

We all want to have a beautifully designed website and yet, it’s surprisingly hard. So what is it that great designers know that the rest of us don’t?

The key to great web design is really very simple: you’ve got to understand the universal rules of good design and follow them, all the time.

Let’s make sure this never happens to you.

1. Learn the fundamental rules of type design
The key to good web design, says Ryan Shafer, Lead Digital Designers at MTV & VH1, is remembering that the web is really just a bunch of text. “I encourage all budding web designers to embrace that the web is fundamentally about typography design.”

And the great news is that type designers have spent the past five thousand years perfecting text design, and there are a few golden rules that all websites should adhere to:

For headlines:

  • Make them bold and easy to scan

  • San serif typefaces are great for headlines because they are stark and easy to read at larger sizes

For body text, you want to maximize legibility:

  • For lots of text opt for a serif typeface

  • Make the font-size much larger than you think is necessary, we recommend 16 px at minimum

  • Lines should never be more than 50-60 characters long

2. Pick a solid typeface, and maybe one with a touch of whimsy
Now, don’t get us wrong, we love Helvetica as much as the next designer. When it comes to picking a font-face you want to pick something super easy to read, graphic, and maybe something a little, you know, whimsical.

Colin Nederkoorn, founder of Customer.io says that recently, “Proxima Nova has replaced Helvetica Neue as my sans-serif typeface of choice. They probably won’t make a movie about it, but if you want a sophisticated sans-serif typeface that the lay(wo)man won’t recognize, give Proxima Nova a shot.”

Some other good choices are Montserrat and Merriweather Sans.

3. Pick a three-color palette & then stick to it!
When it comes to picking a color palette the key is to pick it and stick (to) it. Consistency is everything when it comes to creating a cohesive color palette for your site.

“I prefer neutral palettes that use a strong accent color in a bold way,” says Mike Fortress designer at Oak Studios. “Perhaps a white background (#fff), a not- too-dark text value with a little hue in it (#45585f), and a strong accent color (#4e5fff). But,” warns Mike, “Be careful with that last color!”

Check out Adobe’s Kuler tool for picking colors, or get inspired by the collection of palettes at Colour Lovers.

4. Make sure your photos are the right size
Remember, the web is pixel based, so if your image isn’t large enough it’s going to look pixelated.

“When you are looking for images on Google or iStock, make sure to get the proper size” says designer Kristina Zmaic. “Photo clarity adds a lot of credibility to a site, even if they weren’t taken by you.”

If the image is too small, don’t use it!

5. When in doubt, give it space
The most important design tip is also the simplest: “Make sure your content has breathing room; give it proper margins will help with legibility and focus.” In particular, says Kristina, it’s important to avoid overwhelming users with walls of text.

“Too much text can be a bit daunting. Text is necessary so make sure to break it up with larger sub headings and legible paragraphs. Considering using icons or images as alternative ways to communicate your point.”

If there is one golden rule of design it’s this: pick your aesthetic and stick to it. Consistency is key. Nothing will tank your design faster than picking one design direction and then switching it halfway through.

 

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18 comments

  1. axs2 Replied

    Good Job, excellent article, i loved it the way that you explained,

  2. Jenny Replied

    Great tips to follow for an aspiring web designer. Thanks for sharing them with us. With so much competition, designing a unique website has gained more importance than ever.

  3. GoDesigny Replied

    Thank you for this very handy post! This is exactly what I needed and i am going to put it on my reading list to work through slowly when I have more time.

  4. Ellie Replied

    Didn’t really teach me anything new, but all of this is still true. (Hey that rhymes…)

  5. Cheap Web Design UK Replied

    Really nice article about the simple steps about website design. It was all really helpful. Thanks you so much for sharing valuable information.

  6. Cheap Web Design UK Replied

    Very nice article about easy steps about the website design. Yeah we agree with you it is always the design what matters to create the first impression.

  7. website designers in hyderabad Replied

    really nice article!!! thanks for sharing the information,,its very helpful to the freshers who are facing the problems in web designing

  8. Rudra Replied

    A good Website design matters a lot because of 1st impression is the last impression.. so the website should be very attractive… Really amazing website design tips for good web designing, it really helps fundamental rules of type design suggested by you. thank you so very much to sharing blog.. keep blogging

  9. Wendy Cartright Replied

    These are really great tips for great web designing. I like your tip number 5, to give the content space. I definitely don’t like to read a giant pile of words on a webpage. It just looks so boring and overwhelming. Another thing I would add is to incorporate different elements. Pictures and content are super awesome, but a good video makes it even more awesome. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 

  10. Jane Replied

    Hmm… you say to use a serif font for body text, but you use sans-serif. 

    The advice to not use too dark of a font color is horrible. Might be nice for people with perfect vision, but millions of people don’t have perfect vision and need as much contrast as possible to read comfortably. 

  11. Excellent web design tips for making a website great and create a good impression on your website visitors for your brand or business. Nowadays, Typography is becoming most important factor to keep in mind for creating an awesome website and provide a good experience to visitors.

  12. That’s really very important tips for making any website awesome because your website creates first impression of your business. Web Designer Tricks is also very best website for web designers. It helped me a lot.

  13. Kevin Replied

    Designing a good website requires creative thinking, technical knowledge and expertise. Images, color and graphics are extremely important for creating a balanced website.

  14. Learning to code is officially #1 on my bucket list. Okay, it’s actually the only thing on my bucket list (which is more annoying than having 50 things listed). Despite being a serial entrepreneur and #2 and on the founding team of a venture backed startup in 1998 that was sold to Kinko’s for $100M (Relax it was 2000 and the bubble was bursting so the only profit made was by the bankers). I did learn HTML though and Cobol in college so I tell myself I know enough to be dangerous and should be able to teach myself Ruby and all the cool stuff. But after 3 years of trying on my own along with running a company, being married and raising 3 kids (which includes 2 teenagers who remind me of me so much I call my parents every other week just to apologize. Even my 9 year old daughter is making video games. We’re actually at IndieCade (it’s like Sundance for video games), yet my husband and 3 kids are asleep and I pulled an all-nighter to get my daughter’s beta launched along with a very cool Activity Book aimed at getting kids engaged in making games – which I decided had to be done! My daughter and I are on a crowd funding panel at 3pm. Nevermind. After writing it down, I realize it’s user error. I’m the problem :(

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