What Are the Key Principles of Good Web Design?

In the era of digital dominance, good web design is essential for any business. It’s your virtual storefront, and it’s often the first impression that potential customers will have of your brand. A captivating website can make a lasting positive impact on visitors, which is why it’s so important to invest in a modern and professional design when creating a new website. Not only will it build credibility and brand identity, but it will also show that you’re committed to providing the best possible experience for your customers.

Good web design involves many important elements that may not be immediately obvious. During the design process, our team of Canberra web designers puts a lot of thought and work into everything from usability to typography. While creating a visually appealing website is important, the key principles of website design extend far beyond aesthetics. In this article, we’ll go over some of the core principles of good website design and the best practices every web designer should incorporate. If, while reading, you realise your current website is lacking some of these important principles, it might be time for a website redesign to make sure you’re following the design best practices.

Ensuring Your Site Design is Easy And Functional To Use

Having a website that’s clunky on mobile, slow to load and difficult to navigate is the easiest way to put off a visitor. Simplicity and ease of use should always be at the forefront of your mind while you design your website. It’s easy to get caught up in the visual aspects and forget that the visitor is looking to quickly complete a certain action or find a piece of information. Great design should go hand in hand with ease of use, accessibility, and functionality:

Ease of Use

Website visitors browse at a fast pace, so this means your website should be easy to use and navigate if you want to keep their attention. The key to achieving this is by prioritizing good user experience (UX) in the design and layout of your site. UX is all about crafting a website that caters to the needs of your visitors, ensuring that they can quickly find the information they need and complete their desired actions without hassle. 
To achieve a great UX design, it’s essential to have a well-structured website with a simple navigation bar and drop-down menu that allows users to easily navigate between different pages. 

Moreover, it’s important to ensure that all the essential information is prominently displayed on your website, such as the services or products your business offers, pricing, and contact information. This means you should arrange the different website elements in order of importance. This is also known as responsive design. Your home page should also be clean, uncluttered, and visually appealing, with clear text that conveys the message of your brand or business. By doing so, you’ll help your visitors find what they’re looking for quickly and efficiently.

All in all, a well-designed website that prioritizes user experience is key to ensuring that visitors stay on your site for longer and are more likely to engage with your brand or business. So, take the time to create a user-friendly website that meets the needs of your audience, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.


Accessibility means your website functions seamlessly across different devices like phones and tablets. These days, mobile browsing is king:  more than half (56.96%) of all website traffic comes from mobile devices as of May 2023.  If your mobile website isn’t optimised, you risk alienating over half of your potential traffic. To further the point that a good mobile web design is crucial, HubSpot found that 93% of people they surveyed have clicked off a website because it didn’t properly display on their device. Your website’s design should be able to adapt dynamically to different screen sizes, and the layout should work seamlessly on any device and load quickly. Essentially, whether it’s an iPhone or an extra large monitor, your website needs to have the same level of visual appeal and functionality. 

 By taking the time throughout the design process to ensure your website theme is optimised for mobile devices and tablets, you can create a seamless user experience that will help your website gain the traction and success you’re looking for. In short, having a website that’s accessible across all devices is an essential part of modern web design. 


Functionality: one of the most important principles of effective web design and the key to making a pleasing website. The name says it all: your website, and all the features on it, should function smoothly.  Having a website that’s consistent and reliable strengthens your online presence, reflects well on your business and can also help increase profits – especially if you have an in-site shopping function or booking and contact forms. If these don’t function as they should, it will result in a drop in conversion. 

Functionality also involves making sure your website loads as quickly as possible. According to a study by Kissmetrics, 40% of individuals tend to abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Moreover, the same study indicates that even a mere 1-second delay in page response can lead to a 7% drop in conversions. This is why functionality and loading times are key to a good website design.

Effective Visual Design Choices

Good visual design for a website, as we explained above, is multifaceted. Aside from just being aesthetically pleasing, good visual design on your site will also play into user psychology to drive the goals of the website. Visual design plays a large role in shaping visitors’ perceptions of your brand, how much they engage with your website, and their overall user experience. Your website should have a clean, professional, and visually appealing layout that creates a positive first impression and encourages users to stay and explore further. 

Consistent Design Choices and Branding

Consistency is one of the fundamental principles of effective website design. An all-over-the-place colour scheme can make your website design look haphazard and unprofessional. The same applies to any of the design elements on your website design.  Here are some design guidelines to help you stay consistent:

  • Only use a handful of fonts across your website, and be deliberate in your use of them. This is one of the easiest ways to ensure your website feels cohesive.
  • Pick completely contrasting or complimentary colour schemes and stick to them throughout your website. 
  • Keep layout spacing and padding consistent throughout all your pages. This means your menus, search bar, and images should be in the same position on each page.

Sticking to your design choices throughout the design process is a simple way to make your website look and feel cohesive and well-thought-out, therefore increasing your brand’s credibility in the eyes of anyone who visits it.

Clear Navigation

One of the most basic web design principles is having a straightforward website navigation menu. Typically, the navigation menu is located on the sidebar or page header and contains internal links. It allows people to move between different pages on your site. Considering the limited patience of internet users, creating a well-designed navigation menu is crucial. It helps visitors find what they are looking for quickly and easily, preventing them from getting frustrated and leaving your site.

A visually appealing navigation menu is important, but its ease and efficiency of use should be prioritised. Keeping the design as simple as possible is the best approach; avoid overloading your drop-down menu with too many options under each header category. Additionally, limit the number of header categories to a maximum of 5.

Visual Hierarchy 

In web design, visual hierarchy refers to the way elements are arranged and presented on a web page to guide the user’s attention to the most important information first. This makes it easier for users to quickly grasp the content and structure of the page and find the information they need. Visual hierarchy is achieved through design techniques such as size, colour, contrast, alignment, and positioning, which all work together to improve the usability of your website.

To summarise, good web design should be appealing, user-friendly, and functional. User experience matters, so provide essential information intuitively and have a responsive interface across devices. Consistency and a clear navigation menu foster credibility and exploration. Following these principles should set you on the right track to creating a website design that represents your business in the best way possible and avoid some of the most common mistakes in web design. If you need further guidance, you can read more about website design here.

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  • Futuretheory combines data with design to launch solutions that help clients realise their growth potential. We are committed to growth and transformation for clients across industries, stages of business and geographies.
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