Studies have shown that Internet users decide to stay on or leave a website in the first 30 seconds. This means your website has 30 seconds to make an impression and express a clearly stated purpose or you lose them.

If your website manages to keep their attention for longer than 30 seconds, however, they’re likely to stay much longer. It’s a feast or famine culture on the web and because of this, you can’t afford to make any mistakes. This especially true when it comes to your website’s design.

After all, good web design is what catches a user’s attention and keeps them browsing your website. If you want to make sure that your site is adequately engineered, you’ll want to check out these 10 essential website design principals.

1. Intent

Your website needs to be designed with two things at the forefront of your mind: the user, and your product or service. In the first 30 seconds of browsing your website, any user should be able to discern what product or service your site is geared towards.

Whether you run a blog, a dentistry practice, or you sell clothes, your audience needs to know about the intent of the website and consequently, your business, immediately.

You can do this with a mission statement on your homepage, or a make your website’s purpose self-evident in its design. If you run a dentistry practice, make sure to put “____ Dentistry” right in the header’s homepage.

2. Load Times

Because you do only have those 30 seconds, you also need to make sure none of that precious time is wasted waiting for your pages to load. Ideally, your web pages should load near instantaneously or else you’re more likely to lose prospective customers.

Also, have fast page speeds can boost your website’s SEO, as Google and other search engines tend to prioritize websites with good page load speeds. It’s important for your web design to be SEO focused, too, because 71% of online journeys towards the purchase of a product or service start out on search engines.

3. Mobile Readiness

Similarly, your website needs to optimized to run on a device of any size. This means that your design should be scalable so that it looks just as good on a smartphone or tablet as it does on a desktop computer or laptop.

This is important for two reasons. The first is simply that more and more people are browsing the web on mobile devices, and if your site isn’t optimized for their viewing they’re not going to buy your product. The second is the same as the reason you need fast page load speeds: Mobile-friendly design boosts your SEO.

4. Engaging Animation

We, humans, are simple creatures at the end of the day. Despite our capacity for understanding written languages, we still prefer visual stimuli over walls of text. So you’ll need to break up your textual information with as much imagery as possible.

Preferably, your imagery should be dynamic, either in .gif form or with elements dropping into place as the user scrolls through your page.

5. Colours

Colours can also go a long way towards pleasing our simple primate brains, so your site should integrate a simple, but attractive color scheme.

Our brains seem to prefer colour pairings that follow unwritten rules. And if the principles of colour don’t come intuitively to you, you can use a tool like Adobe Color to explore your options. You’ll likely want to stick to simple complementary colour schemes, but who knows! You can experiment.

6. Easy Navigation

Having an easy to use navigation system for your website is perhaps the most crucial element of your website. If the layout of your website doesn’t make sense and your users can’t find the information they need, they’ll ditch you immediately.

So at the very least, you need a simple navigation bar that sits atop all of your pages and branches off into different sections of your website. What these branches are don’t really matter, as long as a user can understand where they lead and what information they’ll hold.

7. Going on the Grid

When placing elements on your web pages, you want to pretend that there’s a grid on the blank page that separates each portion of the page into equal squares. Each element on the page should “snap” to a portion of the grid so that the elements are placed symmetrically in a visually appealing way.

It’s similar to the Rule of Thirds in photography. Your elements should be placed at the intersection of the lines on your imaginary grid.

8. Visual Hierarchies

Similar to the grid, a visual hierarchy helps your website’s users better understand the content they’re taking in. It’s a simple principle that boils down to just placing the most important information on the top of a given web page.

You don’t want to make your users go fishing for the information you want them to see the most. Just put it in front of them at the top.

9. Effective Communication

This principle is nearly completely content focused. We’ve covered that the design of the website itself should communicate effectively to your audience, but it will all be for naught if your copy stinks.

So make sure that your About page or your mission statement is specific and clearly conveys what you’re all about. You don’t want a missions statement that sounds like “we’re a professional services company that provides professional services to professionals.” Be concise. Be specific.

10. Use of White Space

Lastly, you don’t want your site to be too cluttered. Make sure your site has margins and headrooms, using the white space to “frame” the content of your website.

Your audience’s eyes will thank you for it.

Need Help Incorporating These Website Design Principals?

If you’ve long been thinking that the current iteration of your website isn’t up to snuff and want to spruce it up, these website design principals should get you on the right track.

Of course, doing this yourself can be difficult if you don’t already have a background in web design or computer programming. If you need help giving your website a makeover, you might want to check out our services. We can give your website the looks and functionality it needs to make it successful.

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