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A beginner's guide to the principles of website creation

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A beginner's guide to the principles of website design

Website design is an exciting process that definitely opens up many creative possibilities. When you start designing your website, chances are you'll start asking questions like "What color should I use?", "What kind of menu is better?" or even a more general "How do I make sure visitors have a pleasant browsing experience?"

Designers know that answering these questions is better with a set of principles that define which elements work better in relation to each other, and which shapes and patterns work the way you want them to. These principles greatly simplify the creation process and guide you in the direction of your desired outcome.

These principles applied to web design are called principles of website composition, and this article is about them.

5 principles of website creation you should know

Design principles can be defined as a set of principles and guidelines adopted by designers, from motion designers to web designers and architects. The goal of these principles is to make the Design process so that the result is both aesthetic and practical.

Although there is no exact number of how many design principles exist as they vary depending on the field, this article will address 5 principles that are most relevant to web design.

The balance

Balance on your website is the "weight" of every element you use, from text to buttons to images. To achieve a balanced website, it's important to make sure that the elements on your website don't overlap each other.
When designing your website, you can aim for a symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.

Symmetrical balance

A symmetrical balance provides a consistent, albeit predictable, visual experience. The visual weight is the same on all sides of the design, running in straight lines on both the left and right sides of your website.
A symmetrical balance has a number of advantages, the key of which is to simplify the process of "digesting" the information. Opt for a symmetrical balance if you want to offer your visitors a straightforward and comfortable navigation process.

Adrian Black

The Asymmetric Equilibrium

The main difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical balance is the arrangement: in asymmetrical design, the weight of the elements on both sides is the same, but the arrangement is different.
An asymmetrical balance often makes for a more engaging and interactive website, as users notice the design more and also engage more.

Amy Jones
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The contrast

Contrast in web design means placing the elements next to each other so that one of them stands out. This is handy when you want to highlight something. Contrast creates an area on your page that stands out and demands the user's attention, resulting in a more intense experience.

One of the more obvious ways you can use contrasts is to choose the right website color scheme and use hues that complement each other without overshadowing each other. Your fonts, font sizes, and website images can also be used to express contrast on your website and highlight the most important content. In the example below, the combination of pale pink background and dark pink text, along with elements and photos in similar hues, creates an exciting and dynamic design that is not too heavy on the eye.

Bowling club
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The hierarchy

Hierarchy is one of the most critical and well-known design principles. As the term suggests, it means highlighting visual elements that are most important in the website design. Without hierarchy, visitors don't know which element is more important and consider every line of text, image or button as equally important.
To build a website hierarchy, you first need to think about which elements of your website are important and need to stand out. You can then achieve a hierarchy by manipulating these three factors:

  • Size - The bigger the element, the more attention it attracts. People will pay more attention to the bigger elements, so the more important the text is, the bigger it can be.
  • Color - If you want to highlight something, colors are also handy. For example, colors that have a high contrast with the background are perceived more strongly.
  • Position - The position of an element says a lot about its importance: The higher the element, the more important it is. Place the elements you want to emphasize as high as possible.

Website Design: White Space

White space refers to the areas on your website that are free of elements. White space is the margins on your page, the space between text blocks, text and buttons, graphics, and so on. White space is crucial in web design and has many benefits: It makes your site more readable, the information less crowded, and overall improves the user experience. White space is the foundation of a balanced website, where elements work together so that everyone has room to breathe.
It is important to note that while white space is referred to as "white", it does not have to be. It can include background photos, solid colors, or even patterns. Here's an example of smart use of white space in web design.

Financial Planning

Website design: consistency

Consider unity as the highlight of your website. It's the combination of all the elements you've included in your website and how they work together. To achieve uniformity, every element on your website, from text color to button shape and position, must have a specific role and place in your overall design. Regardless of the number of elements you have, your website should not be overwhelming: All components should work together in a clean and visually appealing way to create a harmonious design.

Common layouts used in the creation of websites

Now that you've familiarized yourself with the basic principles of website creation, let's take a look at some common layouts used by web designers around the world in the Website creation be used to ensure higher performance.

Website Design: Single Image

The first in our list of common compositions and layouts is the single visual layout. This layout is very simple: it is a design that focuses on a single image. It can be a photo or a solid color background with lots of white space and text navigation added to the page, as shown in the wonderful example from the creative studio "This Is Paper".

Hrr Cafe by Bricol Lab
Source: This Is Paper

Website design: F pattern

The F-pattern is part of the well-known Nielsen-Norman Group research that seeks to understand people's online reading patterns through eye-tracking. The F-pattern is the main pattern among the findings, followed by Z-patterns (discussed below). The pattern indicates the following:

People read the top of the page first, in horizontal motion. This forms the upper part of F.
Next, they move down a bit and in another horizontal movement cover the middle part of the page, which is shorter than in the first case. This is the second stroke of F.
Then they move down again and read the left part of the bottom edge of the page, this time in a vertical motion, forming the stem of the F.

Here are heatmaps based on eye tracking demonstrating the movements.

Eye tracking by Nielsen Norman Group
Source: Nielsen Norman Group

The F pattern shows how the reader's eyes move in the case of dense text when there is no other visual object to distract their attention. It shows that people read the top part of the page completely and start skimming more as they move down. So if you have something important to say in your text, make sure it is included in the top part.

Website design: Z pattern

Z-pattern is another pattern discovered during the same research, based on readers' eye movements. Z-pattern is typically the reading pattern people have for pages that are less dense with information.
The Z pattern has certain characteristics of the F pattern (e.g., the top stroke indicating that people have read the opening in its entirety), but it is more minimal. The goal of the Z pattern is to encourage visitors to take action rather than read text. This makes it a perfect layout for landing pages that require users to download e-books, fill out forms, or otherwise share their information. Here's a great example of a Z-pattern layout used by CallFire.

CallFire
Source: CallFire

Website Design: Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is better known as a common principle used in the Filmmaking and photography is used, but it is also a common and effective Web design layout. The goal is to create a pleasant aesthetic and balance in images to make the design more pleasing to the eye.
According to the rule of thirds, each image or workspace should be divided into nine equal parts with two horizontal and two vertical lines, something like this:

Website design

Each line runs together with the "third" of the image. If you select the main Elements of your design placed along these lines, especially at their intersection, the viewing and reading experience becomes much more pleasant as all the important parts are highlighted.

Creative Design
Source: Build in Amsterdam

Conclusion

Now that you are equipped with these rules and principles, the Website creation process be even simpler and more fun. While they may feel restrictive at first, you'll slowly realize that these guidelines give you a lot of flexibility with your design without compromising the visual experience for your customers. They also make it easier to get started with the whole process, because instead of a blank canvas, you'll have more or less an idea of what you want your website to look like. Whether you're using a website builder with customizable templates or creating a website completely from scratch, we hope the principles discussed above are of some help.

Silvio Mazenauer

Silvio Mazenauer

For more than 20 years, I've been helping our customers get up to speed with web hosting, domains, websites or cPanel. And I'm here to help you too.

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