10 Rules of Web Design

Follow these guidelines to create great websites

  1. Simple is beautiful.
    Cramming too much into each page creates confusion. Visitors get frustrated when they have to scan through rows of links and images to find what they are looking for. By keeping your pages simple, your website will be easier to use.
  2. Design is paramount.
    When you meet someone for the first time, you want to make a good first impression. The same should be true for your website. The overall look and feel of your site is the first thing your visitors will notice.
  3. Navigation should be intuitive.
    There are few things more frustrating than not being able to find certain content on a website. Pages should be well-organized with a top-down design so that visitors can easily browse through the different sections on your website.
  4. Consistency is key.
    Visitors shouldn't feel like they are visiting a new website each time they open a new page on your site. Consistency among the pages on your site makes navigation a much easier task.
  5. Colors are crucial.
    Color selection can make or break a website. Most of us know what it is like to visit a site that is just painful to look at. When choosing colors, use a consistent palette of colors that don't clash and make sure there is a strong contrast between the text and the background.
  6. Fill the browser window.
    People with large screens like to use them. Therefore, don't cram all the content of your webpages into a small area. If a lot of your visitors use mobile devices, using separate style sheets for different platforms is a good solution.
  7. Develop for multiple browsers.
    Browsers are supposed to render webpages the same way, but they don't. Therefore, make sure to check your website on multiple browsers to make sure everything appears correctly. It is best to catch problems ahead of time instead of relying on visitor complaints.
  8. Check your website for errors.
    As any experienced editor will tell you, a great piece of work can be tarnished by a small simple error. Webmasters should regularly check their websites for typos, broken links, and images that do not load correctly.
  9. Write your own code.
    Whether it's HTML or PHP, nothing beats writing your code from scratch. If you use templates and pre-written scripts for everything, you will be clueless when something goes wrong or doesn't work. When you custom code your pages, you have full control over how they look and act.
  10. Don't forget the content.
    Even if your site is beautifully designed, it is an empty shell without content. A good website has both great design and great content. Therefore, make sure all your pages have unique, original content that makes them worth visiting.

Updated June 13, 2012