Websites can have a number of different purposes, but every site needs to appeal to the visitors in some way, shape, or form. While it is not uncommon to see websites that are packed with different design elements, clean websites are quickly becoming more and more popular. There is something about looking at a clean, well organized site that leaves a professional impression on the viewers. When every part of the design looks as if it should be there, the site tends to be easier to read and navigate. Building clean websites is an important skill for any web designer.
Elements of a Clean Design
1. A Dab of Color
Internet designers are free from many of the limitations that plague print designers. The most obvious difference is that web designers do not have to worry about going over budget with the use of color. Computers have the capability to display almost a limitless amount of color without costing a dime.
Even though colors can be added with no effort, designers of clean websites tend to apply a simple color palette to each page. The most common color palettes are made up of one color and some grays. The main color is used to make important elements of the page stand out. If multiple colors are present, they should be used sparingly with some type of neutral color breaking things up. Keeping the color scheme limited helps improve the website’s usability while simultaneously creating a unified view of the page’s elements.
2. Use of Restraint with Typography
Restraint is very important when it comes to designing a clean website. It can be very tempting to use a number of typefaces for the different content being displayed. While it may be necessary in a few situations, multiple typefaces should be kept to a minimum on each page. If there are too many fonts present, they can make the page look disjointed and messy. This occurs because the different typesets compete against each other within the design.
Take the time to surf a few clean sites and you will quickly notice that there only a couple of typefaces used at any given time. Diversity and hierarchy are added to the design through the use of color, size, case, and weight. As long as each typeface is used to its maximum potential, your design will not be limited. The trick to making typography work with each design is to spend time focusing on the details. Some things to keep in mind include letter-spacing, line-height, text block width, and the chosen typefaces.
3. Imagery that Works Together
The main point made here is that design should be consistent. Different imagery styles are quickly noticed by visitors and can be very disconcerting. No one wants to browse a website only to have the style of the illustrations and photography change every time a new page loads. If you can keep the visual elements in some type of harmony, it will be much easier to finish with a clean website.
When the available pictures do not share the same style, there are ways to mimic a cohesive design. Consider adding a border or shading around the different pictures so that a sense of unity will still be created without having to throw out images that do not “fit” with the overall style.
4. A Structured, Well Organized Layout
A common link between clean websites is the layout structure. Even though they may be using the space differently, it is likely that the designers have put a lot of time and thought into planning out a grid. Grids supply a solid foundation for the layout of the website because of the nature of set columns and rows. Just like using graph paper, the grid’s structure helps with the placement and size of each design component.
When a grid is used correctly, order and consistency are created. Designers inexperienced with using grids might want to consider getting some practice because they can come in useful for different projects. For example, websites with a lot of content such as online newspapers or magazines can seem extremely cluttered without a proper layout structure. Visitors may be overwhelmed with all the information filling the screen. Grids will help the designer establish a rhythm and hierarchy that can be visually pleasing and effective.
Creating Clean Website Designs
1. Add before Subtracting
A common problem when designing clean websites is the fear of adding too much to a page. Unfortunately, this type of attitude can lead to lackluster sites that appear as if something is missing. An easy way to avoid this situation is to design without inhibition. The creative process works best when limitations are kept to a minimum and exploration is allowed to happen. As the design comes to completion, get ready to edit.
Look over each element of the site and decide whether or not it really needs to be present. Consider asking for an outside opinion if you are too attached to what has been created. Simplify the page until only the most important elements are left behind. Everything left should result in a fully functional, clean website after a little tweaking.
2. Remember the Big Picture
It can be hard to keep cohesiveness through a website as each page gets designed individually. This leads to an inability to effectively bring a project’s design together. Keeping the big picture in mind can help designers successfully connect the dots from page to page. If you have a hard time looking at the entire system by flipping through the pages on your computer screen, you should try printing everything out. This will allow the entire design to be viewed as a whole instead of as separate entities. Inconsistencies can be corrected and layouts can be easily synchronized when everything is side by side.
3. Tweak until you can’t Tweak Anymore
Never settle. In order for a design to be presented at its best, designers should tweak until the element feels perfect. Whether this means simply trying a different shade of red or changing the line-spacing a tad, you should not let something you are not absolutely happy with sit on the screen. The littlest tweak can have a huge impact on the overall design. Do not get discouraged by the amount of time that may go into the small details because everything will eventually end up the way you want it.