Website design principles have varied since their beginnings in the early 90s. If you ever end up on a website that looks like it’s from that era, you’ll notice some interesting choices that don’t normally appear on modern websites: garish patterned (sometimes even animated) backgrounds, strange content layouts (or just straight-up covering the screen with images and links, with no empty space), distracting animations, or lots of plugin-reliant content and so on.
While it’s unthinkable nowadays to do these things to a website, there were no real rules for website design back then. It was a new field and the first website designers were pioneers: pioneers in the sense that they tried new things, not that it worked. Through years of trial and error, most web designers have learned from other designer’s mistakes and have a basic idea of what a website ought to look like and respond to the user’s actions.
One of the key design principles of web design is visual consistency and clarity. Every element on the user’s screen needs to be aligned and shaped in such a way that people can easily scan it, understand it and move on to another page element. A lot of these 90s-era websites failed to understand this, and the sensory overload from things like too many images, distracting animations and an obtuse interface makes these websites hard to use. Focus on making page elements blend in to the rest of the page.
Another common error in 90s web design is an abundance of colour. Garish shades of primary colours that fail to contrast with overlaying text, which ends up disorienting the user as well as making the website look worse as time goes on and fashionable colours of the time are replaced. For most websites, this has been replaced by a minimalist use of colours: usually black & white with a general theme colour. Since some colours impart different attitudes (red imparts passion, blue imparts calmness and so on), a clever use of colours can say more about the company than any spiel on the home page.
Language and typography are equally important to setting the mood and establishing your business’s character. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the tone of language that you can use, but typography is an entirely different story. Sans-serif fonts are preferred, especially for smaller text, and font colour is important. This is where colour contrast comes in: white on black, orange on blue, red on green and so on. Picking the right shade of colour can make all the difference between a garish, confusing mess and stylish, easily readable text with a fitting background colour.
The final piece of the puzzle is usually the tone of the content and visual design. Different demographics find different styles more appealing. As an example, a businessman would generally prefer minimalist, monochromatic, sleek looking websites over what a kid or teenager would prefer: bright shades of colour, stylistic fonts and so on. Examine your target demographic and see what they’d prefer for your website.
At the end of the day, your website is designed to draw visitors to your site and engage with your services or products, and a website that doesn’t cater to them or meet their standards won’t get the attention they deserve. Only by applying these basic rules to your website’s design will you get that website. Chetaru is a app design and development agency based in Darlington that is excited about building a better future with the latest technological and IT solutions available. Chetaru has the IT know-how that your firm needs to succeed and thrive, from beautiful responsive websites to economical SEO services and useful mobile app designs.