When viewing a website for the first time what is it that you are looking for?
A simplistic layout with minimal text but so organized that it is easy to follow and has all the right components in easily found places, which although they have the necessary components in the right order, are not “in your face”.
Much has been written about simplicity of design and clean layouts but is this all a designers dream or just proper utilization of the page height and width coupled with correct font choice and use of the proper colors?
Is it an instinctive feel for design or is it a process that can be learned and repeated in future web design projects?
We feel that whilst design simplicity is not achieved by accident, it is an easy design concept to master.
Space in design is used for effect as well as a useful way to not only separate important points, but to draw the users’ eyes to them and also to emphasize their importance.
The basis of this design technique is to utilize space rather than lines to form the skeleton of your grid and to ensure that eyes are drawn to the relevant part of text to emphasize its appearance with a lucid arrangement of text and space.
A good first step to designing a clean and efficient website is to have a correct balance between content and white space without over using an assortment of column widths with adequate separation.
The best way to get this ideal in your minds eye is to browse the web and seek out those sites which have a so called clean appearance and make note of how the designer has made more use of space than text.
Whilst referred to as a grid layout, you will immediately notice that those sites which stand out have a noticeable lack of lines in their grid, it is really a matter of using space correctly.
Whilst carrying out the research on the page layouts discussed above, take note of their choice of font. In the best designed sites you will find a subtle blending of the four critical choices you have to make. These are font, color, size and weight.
Weight of typeface, sometimes referred to as strength, is a very useful tool which if used cleverly can replace imagery and be utilized to purposefully draw the user to the main relative points you want to get over. Size is also a great way to focus attention and draw the eye to its target text.
Color is also important especially as a contrast to the white space referred to above, be subtle or be brave, don’t go down the middle. Experiment with subtle shades.
Font is extremely important and also a very personal choice. It is generally accepted that if you use more than two on the same page it really becomes confusing to the user.
The production of clean, uncluttered pages is accepted as the goal we are all trying to achieve and there is much to learn on this important topic.
In our experience the color combinations are very effective if used properly, but can ensure that your site visitor quickly clicks away if it is not pleasing to his eyes. When it comes to colors, this is the goal of all design, to achieve the right combination.
Playing with background colors is also important and may be used to emphasize call to actions on the page, buy now buttons, navigate to expanded explanations or simply to obtain email details for your list.
Having read and understood the article so far, it becomes obvious that the beauty of a simple design is a complicated mix of all of the detailed areas as well as an overall simplistic but sophisticated layout.
Viewers’ attention span is very limited and if they conclude, rightly or wrongly, that your site is complicated they will move on quickly.
The obvious basics to achieve are: make it easy for the viewer to find what they want and they will.
If you do this and they use your easily navigated and informative web pages they will return, and we all know that returning visitors will eventually follow your call to action and you will get them to buy your product, subscribe to your newsletter or any other desired action.
High quality is a perception of your user, not an easily described set of design details. General perception however is that clean and simple means easy to use.
Uncluttered is attractive, subtle is good, so join these two and you will have an easily to navigate and read site which makes its point and gains users’ trust.