It’s easy to get caught up on the endless design possibilities when building your company’s site, but many need to realize that visual appearance is only a component of what makes a successful website. Businesses also need to pay a great deal of attention to the usability of their designs and overall experience when interacting with their site. Innovative designs can be very visually appealing, but they need to be practical in order to bring in customers or clients. HubSpot compiled 8 design guidelines to insure a balance between design and user experience.

1. Simplicity


Even though the overall aesthetic is important, consumers don’t visit your site to admire the designer’s capabilities. They are on a mission to follow-through an action or to receive some type of information. Adding unnecessary details and embellishments to a site just hinders the site visitor from achieving their intended goal. Try your best to not suffer from design syndromes and just keep it toned down. Ways you can keep it simple include:

  • Don’t use too many colors in the overall design as well as typefaces; pick a color palette of 5 or less
  • Use legible, generic typefaces. Again, pick out only a couple using a only couple different sizes
  • Only use graphics when they are necessary or useful to complete a task or function

2. Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy in web design comes hand in hand with the principle of simplicity. It involves planning and displaying website elements in a way that the important information, functional to the user, pops out of the screen compared to other content. This guides the site visitors to complete their intended goal in a natural and timely manner. Your site can easily accomplish this by adjusting the display, colors, fonts, and size of the important content to make it more visually dynamic and noticeable. The goal is for this information to immediately draw one’s attention when bringing up the site.

3. Navigability

Instinctive navigation is crucial in order to smoothly guide the user from point A to point B. Again, it is important to get the user to their desired destination as quickly and easily as possible, and navigation is a key part to this process. It should be clear to the user where and what they need to click on next. Some tips to ensure that your site’s navigation is pain-free include:

  • Use traditional structure and placement for your navigation, and also include it at the footer of your site
  • Use a breadcrumbs trail to remind the user of what actions they took
  • Keep a search bar near the top of your site on every page
  • Don’t offer too many navigation options, and keep them simple and explanatory
  • Include links within your page copy, and make it transparent on what they lead to
  • Keep the navigation consistent on every page

4. Consistency

The overall design including themes, colors, typefaces, etc. should be consistent on every page featured in the site while keeping the user experience and usability maximized. Although, every page should not look the exact same, this would lead to the user getting bored and having an overall negative experience. A way a web designer can differentiate each page of the site while keeping them cohesive is choosing different layouts for the pages. This means that the overall theme will be the same, but the way in which the content is displayed is different. By using different layouts for different types of information, the user can more easily recall what each type of information looked like and therefore, the actual information being displayed.

5. Accessibility

With the exponential increase in dependence on mobile devices comes along the increase in the use of different devices to interact with the internet. This leads to a high importance in making sure your company’s site is accessible on devices other than a desktop. With more than half of online traffic stemming from mobile devices, a mobile optimized site is necessary. This is achieved by using a highly flexible design structure that can be transported seamlessly from a desktop to a smartphone or tablet. This design structure is used in a built-in responsive design, which Pikle ensures use for all our web-design clients.

6. Conventionality

When people spend as much time as they do on the internet, they start to recognize similarities among websites. This leads users to be familiar with the simple structures and conventions that apply to most sites. Typical conventions used over and over again include:

  • Having the navigation located near the top of the page
  • Having the logo located near the top of the page
  • A clickable logo that redirects users back to the homepage
  • Links changing color/appearance when hovered over

This familiarity causes users to feel more comfortable when visiting a site and to have an overall positive experience. This is why using including typical conventions in your company’s site isn’t boring, it helps the user complete their desired action. When web designers get caught up in breaking the traditional layout, they can go overboard on a layout that overwhelms and turns away future clients.

7. Credibility

Your site and business’s credibility can go a long way in user experience. When users feel that your site is trustworthy, they are more likely to go through with their desired action. Some ways to increase your site’s credibility include:

  • Be up front about the product/service you’re selling: don’t make users dig through page after page to get a full grasp on what you do. This will lead them to have a negative experience, and become fed up with the company as a whole.
  • Include a pricing page: it can be tempting to force potential clients to contact your company before you throw out the prices, but including an easy to find price page will make your company seem more legitimate. Your company should have nothing to hide!

8. User-Centricity


Websites should be designed for the preferences of the users in mind, not the skills and capabilities of the designers. Sometimes designers’ egos get the best of them but they need to remember that they are wasting their time if they have no users to enjoy their site. Even though it can be a pain after putting in days of work on a site, it is important to gain feedback and conduct user testing to ensure your site is user friendly. Online testing tools include:

  • Crazy Egg: track “what’s making your visitors leave”
  • Loop11: conduct usability testing

For any questions on web-design please contact us at Pikle!  Our web design services are focused on utilizing the latest design features and software functionality to build a strong website to maximize visitor engagement.