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How Do You Know What Looks Good?

As a designer, I get asked this question often. Instead of replying, “I just know”, I have decided to give a few basic tips to help the non-designers out there. Take a look at your current website and see if you miss the mark on these points. If so, you should consider hiring a design company.

Good alignment and spacing is the base of good web design. Make sure the padding (space around elements) is symmetrical. Here are some rules regarding alignment on the web:

Do not mix text alignment. You should left-align, or right-align text, but be sure you aren’t doing both. If you left-align your body copy, then you should always left-align your sidebar text as well.
Centered headlines look great, but in no way should you ever center your body copy. Ever.
Balance, balance, balance!! Balance is the equal distribution of visual elements in a design. Good design needs visual weight to be equal on the two sides. When elements are not balanced, the effect is disturbing and makes users uncomfortable.

The right photo can make a good design even better. Make sure you hire a professional photographer, or use great stock images.

Whitespace does not mean the color white. Whitespace refers to the negative space between elements. It is the space with nothing in it. This space may be a color or texture, but either way it is space within a design that does not include screen elements.

Whitespace is THE most crucial element of design for a very good reason. It can transform a design and provide many aesthetic or tangible benefits like improved legibility, comprehension, attention, and organization.

Cluttered information makes the user feel lost and unhappy. Do not do it! Give each web element enough room on the page to deliver the message they are intended to.

When everything is important on your page then nothing is important. Too many large fonts and/or too many words in bold colors will certainly confuse your users and makes everything non-important overall. Choose things on your page that are most important.

And finally, if you find your website is lacking in good design, you should always consult a professional. They know how to use all these elements properly to create a website that you and your users will love!