So much has changed in the way we think of sites, what is good design and how to approach it, and if you take a ride with the Wayback Machine a few years back you’ll sure realize how much web page appearance has changed, and also how fast. However while certain shifts, and the “new coats of paint” applied to update a websites’ look change all the time, there are some fundamental principles that have remained, almost unchanged, that can be traced back to the earliest websites. So, in this article we are going to try and pinpoint what 4 of these fundamentals are, and maybe better realize why they are important and why you should use them.
1. The most important thing about your website must be obvious and immediate
Look at Google Search page; you’ll find that, in spite of enormous advances in technology, services, algorithms and so on, the page is the same, from its inception. Sure, esthetic tweaks are made all the time, but for the most part the function it serves has dictated that it remained the same through the years. Which proves the point that whatever your website offers and is of greater value has to be immediate, and design should always follow function.
2. Always be aware that a website is made for people (not designers, programmers, esthetic critics)
A website can have its beauty and appeal and it can communicate a lot via esthetic choices. However, what any website, regardless of what it offers is, is a tool that needs to be friendly and easy to use. In order to achieve this a website has to do a couple of things: communicate with the user without frustrating him; communicate with a user and offer her/him a sense of closure.
3. Esthetics should be used as a means not an end
What makes a website look good is without a question less important than what makes it operate and interface with the user positively. In fact, most of the changes in website design have focused on reducing a website’s layout and composition to actual areas and portions that always hold value and purpose in themselves. Think about how a website’s tabs have shifted from small buttons of text to actual thumbnails that show pictures of text; this has been done in order to maximize functionality and to make actual space valuable, rather than have empty space that is in need of esthetic additions.
4. Fitt’s Law
The law, which can be expressed mathematically reads as follows: the larger a target object is, and the closer it is to a user’s start point, the easier it is to use and the more attention it will draw. Basically, what this says is almost a corollary of esthetics as a means to an end: you should strive to make usability the most important factor in decision making in design, almost like striving to make esthetic considerations and usability one and the same.