Ultimately, the goal of any Web page is communication. You are trying to communicate through words, pictures, and layout your site or company's goals. This might be information or it might be to sell something, but you have to communicate to be successful.
Design is all about communication. When you're a designer, you're not an artist first and foremost (even if you thought you were), you're a communicator. Sure, it would be nice if you could create works of art for your Web pages. But most of us don't have the time or the need. Instead, what you need are concrete rules to follow so that your pages look good and get their message across.
Basic Rules for Design
- Every element on the page needs a purpose. If you put an image on the page or a block of text or a line, there should be a reason for it to be there. If the reason is something like \"because I like it\" take it off. Your design elements are part of your design to communicate the message of the page. Anything that doesn't contribute to that message should be dispensed with.
- Don't make your customers struggle. Your fonts should be a legible size and a reasonable scan length (no more than 7-10 words on a line). If your customers have to struggle to read your page, they won't. And they won't be your customers.
- Make it obvious what's important on the page. Use styled heading tags to call out the important sections of your pages and use images to highlight important features.
- Use the best images possible, the fewer the better. One awesome image will do more to enhance your message than three mediocre ones. And simple styled text will go further than one poor image.
- Visual aids communicate more quickly than blocks of text. Tables, charts, and graphs are easier to grasp quickly than a block of text. And readers of Web pages are typically in a hurry.
- Don't be afraid to be bold. Hesitant design, whether it's colors or layout, makes the customer feel hesitant as well. Make your sites stand out so they're memorable.
- Simple designs have more punch than complicated ones. A one- or two-column layout is easier for your customers to grasp than multiple columns.
- Sometimes you need to hire a professional. If you're creating something that needs to last a long time, hiring a professional designer, brand manager, or marketing guru will help make sure that you get the best possible site.