There are some essential elements in web design without which even the best site will not be effective. And efficiency is the most important thing!
Perhaps, each designer has its own design plan when it comes to the next project, but still, all of them are united by one general list of major elements that any modern site must include.
Starting from free space and huge images, up to functional search and a clear “call to action”, these elements are exactly what users are waiting to get when it comes to a user-friendly website.
But what are these elements, so highly prioritized in the design and how to use them correctly when creating a new project? This is exactly what I would like to talk about in this article.
Any experienced designer will tell you that space is one of the most important elements in the design because it determines the content and its readability. They’ve also learned how to use this tool in a way that they would hardly have seen ten years ago. This is especially true when it comes to creating a focus point for users because any piece of text or image will seem much larger in a free space environment. And don’t forget the sequence: similar elements should have similar spacing between them.
And although in the usual designer’s vocabulary you can hear the definition of “whitespace”, it does not mean that it should be white exactly. In fact, this refers to the absence of multiple elements and can be any other background color/texture.
How to use: Start with key elements such as the navigation menu. Make sure that the elements are organized in such a way that the distance between them is the same and harmonious. This approach will help you to highlight each button or piece of text, making it clearer.
Navigation shouldn’t be complicated. It should be clear and easy to use. Cut the navigation menu to a minimum so as not to overburden users. Depending on the website’s type, you should strive to have 5 to 10 navigation elements.
Navigation should also include tools to help users navigate the website – the easier it is for people to use your site, the longer they will stay on it.
The navigation can be in a slightly unusual way, to make it stylish and, most importantly, kept at the top of the site, fixed, no matter where the user goes to.
How to use: Use simple navigation as a basis. Remember that users need a few key things from the navigation: to know where they are on the site, the way back, where they need to go, and a simple route in case of an unusual or complex interface.
This page is especially important for small businesses or author sites to inform users about you.
The About Us page should tell users who you are and what you do. It may contain a short story about you, your goals and principles. It may also include feedback from satisfied users and customers and even a story of your own success. You can also post links to social media accounts or media content.
The only problem is that the page is often overloaded with unnecessary information and kind of boring. For this reason, you need to make it as simple as possible, containing only the relevant information to attract your visitors. And of course, the design should be interesting and unique.
How to use: The page “About Us” can (and should) be used to give a brand a personality, to bring it to life. If it’s about a team, it would be nice to include photos of all its members in the design and compliment them with brief biographies/skills.
Contact information is most often provided in 2 ways:
In the title or the main navigation;
On the Contact Us page as a form or for more information.
It is worth noting that both of these options can work perfectly for the website, but then again, depending on the design being developed.
Few designers or customers are aware, but it is the presence of contacts (phone numbers, address, feedback form) that adds a kind of legitimacy to a company which, in turn, increases the confidence of users. In addition, it is worth thinking about the fact that the user may not feel too pleased if he/she wants to contact you, but the website does not have clear info on how to do that.
How to use: Be sure to add contact information for all static headers and footers, and if you have a specific physical address, include the location information and the way to get there. Think of a feedback form so that users could write you directly from the website, without having to do dozens of unnecessary actions, copying e-mails, going to their mail, etc.
How many times did you want to find some old information on a website or something you remember but can’t figure out exactly where you saw it on the website? And how often you were upset that you couldn’t do it. That’s where the search box comes in handy. This element has one of the most important meanings for modern friendly web design and your regular users. However, you should create this element in such a way that it is not intrusive but can be easily found and used. If you decide to use the icon to identify the search box, you don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” – choose a standard magnifying-glass icon.
How to use: Create a simple search box at the top of the website. Preferably in the right corner because that’s where it’s expected to be.
Footer is the very element by which you can provide your audience with a bunch of information (relevant and useful) without overloading your design. As it is located at the very bottom of your page, it is advisable to place links to the main sections of the website, contact information, social network and feedback links.
Try to make the footer as useful as possible, though not devoid of simplicity. This is the case when the fantasy can actually be disabled. Regardless of the style you choose for the footer – stylish buttons or links – it should be minimalistic and in harmony with the overall design. Make it easy to use.
How to use: According to practice, the ideal footer contains all the above elements. By the way, if you can’t think of a better way to “shove” any of the above-mentioned elements, simply add it to the footer. Believe me, users know that if something is not found, it is worth looking for at the bottom.
CALL TO ACTION
In most cases, a website is a call to action – buy a product, download a book, subscribe to the newsletter, etc. And for it to be surely “done” by the user, the “call” should be clear, understandable, and visible.
Initially, it is necessary to define what the website itself is all about, and then create a design so that this action was obvious and led the user directly to its implementation. Techniques such as color, space, and contrast will help you to highlight the “call to action” and lead the user to the right button.
However, it is worth noting that the “call to action” is typical not only for landings but also for simple websites. After all, the same form of registration is also a kind of appeal. If your goal is that the user is registered, then place the form in a visible place and highlight it, while keeping it simple and easy to fill. The main thing is not to overload its fields. If all you need is an email address, there’s no need to ask the visitors about their date of birth and family status.
How to use: Make it noticeable. The “call to action” should be located in the most visible place on your page. As for the buttons, they should contrast with the general background and clearly indicate what the user should do: buy, download, sign up, register, etc.
All buttons on the website should be recognizable. They should have the same shape and effect when interacting, regardless of where they are located and for what purpose. Of course, if the site has a lot of interactive elements, then creating your own set of buttons can be a difficult task, so in this case, it is better to use the ready-made design sets, setting them up at your discretion.
How to use: Developing your own buttons, try and make them unique, while adhering to the sequence – all the buttons have one shade, effects, shape, and texture. So the user will not be confused and can easily interact with the site.
It’s no secret that a person reacts to visual effects faster, so if you managed to attract the user’s attention with their help, it’s already a benefit. That’s why the design with this in mind is so important. Use huge images that can attract visitors and even share a story.
Depending on the subject matter of the website, show your product/service to visitors using beautiful images that can convey a much more powerful message than a perfect, well-written text. At the same time, try to use as few stock photographs as possible, otherwise, you risk losing your individuality.
How to use: When it comes to images of goods or services, it is preferable to address a specialist who will take care of necessary photos/illustrations. If the theme of the website allows you to use stock photos, use them, but do not forget about the excess.
When it comes to using fonts, designers used to think of the simplest fonts that were easily recognized by most browsers and devices, but today these boundaries have been completely erased, and from now on you can use hundreds of beautiful and bright fonts in your projects. The main thing is to know about their compatibility and licensing. In addition, using web font services, there is no problem with search engine optimization.
How to use: The easiest way to start using web fonts is to use Google Fonts which is absolutely free and provides a huge number of beautiful and unusual fonts that can make your design attractive and responsive.
Of course, there are many other elements that play no less important role in the design, but their absence, as a rule, does not affect the effectiveness of a website. At the same time, if you forget about at least one of the above elements when creating the design, it is likely to cause some problems for users, and, therefore, for the website itself. So take a short break, and check the list again to make sure you don’t miss anything.