Last updated on February 21st, 2020
As humans, we get easily attracted to appealing visual content. Whether you’re passing a mall full of billboards, surfing the web or flipping through a magazine; you get attracted to graphics everywhere. Graphics play a vital role even in the online industry. If you’re having a website, you need a power of graphic design to attract visitors and take your brand to the next level. In this article, we have shared what is a graphic design, why is it important for websites and what are the essential design tips one should follow while creating a website.
A great website strikes the right balance between being visually appealing and successfully converting visitors to take the desired action (Ex: subscribe to an email list, fill out a form, buy something, etc.). The graphic design elements utilized throughout the page can have a big influence. Before sharing tips, let us discuss what is a graphic design and why is it important for every website.
What Is A Graphic Design?
Graphic design is a technique of creating visual content to communicate the message among the audience. Interactive designs such as magazines, brochures, logos, advertisements, web banners, etc., are created by using various fonts, typography and images to optimize the user experience. By using various software, graphic designers create visual concepts to communicate ideas that inform, inspire and captivate people to make an effective decision.
Why Is Graphic Design Important For Websites?
Visual appeal is important for website’s success. An appealing graphic design promotes the communication of ideas to your audience. It gives a huge boost to any website by increasing its appeal, brand value, usability and professionalism.
Visuals help to stimulate the aesthetic senses in human which helps to increase a feeling of connection with the brand (website). Therefore, it’s necessary to have a great graphic design for your website.
Now the questions arise – What should you keep in mind while creating appealing graphic designed website? What are the tips one should remember while creating website designs?
In this post, we have shared 14 design tips to help you create a stunning and effective website.
Here Are The 14 Essential Graphic Design Tips For Every Website
01. Choose Contrasting Colors
Colors inherently communicate emotion. Think – bright reds for urgency, blues for calmness or tranquility, and purple for royalty. These colors can have a strong influence on a visitor’s reaction to your design — when they can see them.
One of the largest web design faux pas is choosing colors with no contrast, such as white and light gray or peach and light pink. Not only will these color combinations fail to pop on screen, but they will also likely be washed out and illegible. Instead, consider choosing high-contrast color palettes or colors that are located directly across from each other on the color wheel, like orange and blue.
02. Create A Cohesive Look And Feel
While high-contrasting color palettes can create graphics and text boxes that jump off the screen, that doesn’t mean every color within your palette should be battling for the spotlight.
Create a color palette with 1 to 3 primary colors and 1 to 3 secondary colors. Your primary colors will fill most of the design, while your secondary colors serve as a contrast to complement the palette.
Consider using different tones of the same color for cohesiveness in your primary palette, adjusting the brightness to create your ideal shades. Next, choose one high-contrast secondary color and play with its brightness to create accompanying secondary shades, or choose colors of similar brightness and color family.
03. Choose Simple, Easy-To-Read Fonts
When it comes to web design, readability is paramount. While fancy script fonts and youthful bubble letters, both can have their moments to shine; that moment is not on your landing page. Overly stylized or condensed fonts will leave readers struggling to grasp the overall meaning of your message and, more than likely, will run them off the page.
Instead, choose a simpler typeface that allows your content to shine. Fonts do reflect tone and personality, so aim for a typeface that represents the theme of your site. Opt for serifs for an elegant look, sans for a modern, no-fuss look, and more rounded-edge sans for a friendly feel.
04. Keep Multiple Fonts To A Minimum
One of the “dos” of good design is incorporating at least two different fonts to indicate headings within page structure and make certain elements pop. However, one of the “don’ts” of good design is incorporating numerous typefaces and font styles on one page. Once you begin utilizing upwards of five fonts on one page, it becomes difficult for the eye to scan and absorb information.
You can create a difference in font-weight and style by applying one font family or typeface to text and manipulating its variants, such as bold, condensed, or italics. This creates visual uniformity by having all text elements share an overarching look but allows you to indicate structure and importance by adjusting the variants.
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05. Embrace White Space
It’s a common misconception dating back to the early days of the Internet that to create a stunning design, all areas of the page must be populated with text, imagery, or filler. In reality, web visitors much prefer simplicity as opposed to a Geocities-type website. This is where white space, or negative space left unmarked, becomes so valuable.
In a 2012 study completed by Google, researchers learned that more complex designs are less likely to be perceived as beautiful. Low visual complexity, or sites blanketed in white (or negative) space, are perceived as highly appealing.
Utilize white space in your design by focusing on a single element, such as a text box or video, and placing nothing around it to distract from it. This is more likely to grab attention and be viewed as attractive than a highly-cluttered graphic design.
Pro Tip: If you’re unsure how to begin adding white space or how to create balance among your elements, lines are a fantastic place to start. For example, when aligning a heading, text box, and graphic element, consider inserting a vertical line to the left or right. This anchors the text and acts as a mock-margin line to create a vertical structure.
Likewise, combine multiple lines to create squares, rectangles, or triangles that border your text. A strong border creates a visual contrast between text and the background that acts as a minimalist touch to create order within the design.
06. Be Aware Of Alignment And Structure
Keeping elements aligned will create structure across the page that will naturally lead a reader’s eyes to where you’d like them to go. Items that are designed without alignment can create a haphazard feel across the page that can confuse readers and ultimately cause them to exit the page.
Headings, bodies of text, and images should all be aligned:
Manipulate letter space or kerning to fill dead space, condense headings that take up too much, and overall align text. Be sure not to reduce letter spacing to the point that individuals letters cannot be read or increase it such that letters become detached.
ii. Body Of Text
Edit each line to consist of 30-40 characters each, including spaces. This makes content easy-to-read and will keep all paragraphs in-line with one another.
Align images with a frame or utilize a grid to make images flush with bodies of text or headings.
07. Use Color And Scale To Signal Importance
Every good graphic design leverages visual hierarchy, or the arrangement, contrast, color, and scale of elements, to imply importance. Web designers harness hierarchy to draw attention to the most visually dominant element in a design, which is usually the most important aspect of the message. This element is typically noted by its position, such as being highest on the page, or in a larger or darker font.
From the most visually dominant element comes a series of subsequent elements that are manipulated in size, weight, or color. These elements of visual hierarchy encourage a reader to follow a specific path down the page, towards what is ultimately a call to action or form. Try a free Form Builder like JotForm to create custom online forms for your website.
Consider applying contrasting colors or multiple font variants to create a visual hierarchy within your elements. Adjust various settings until you feel each element plays its role in guiding a reader to either the end of the page or to a call to action.
08. Emphasize Your Call-To-Action (CTA)
On the coattails of visual hierarchy comes the importance of emphasizing a call to action. A call to action (CTA) is designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage a conversion. Common calls to action include completing contact forms, signing up for an email list, or completing a purchase.
Essentially, your call to action should reflect why you’ve published the page in the first place.
When designing your CTA button, aim for contrasting colors between the button color and the button text. Similarly, you can choose to contrast the button color with the color of the background or leave plenty of white space around it.
Likewise, consider the above graphic design tips about forming a cohesive color palette. When designing your CTA button or other action items, choose a secondary color that contrasts with your other brand colors. It’s optional to have a secondary color used solely for action items, like links and buttons that can be used throughout the design.
09. Respect The Fold
From smartphone models to tablets, laptops, and desktops, many believe the variety in how we view websites has eliminated “the fold.” If you’re not familiar with the fold, it’s a graphic design term involving the top part of a page visible when a screen loads. At the bottom of the screen is the fold, and anything beneath this line must be scrolled to in order to be seen.
As the viewable area per screen does vary, it goes without saying that the fold is nowhere near as consistent as it was in the early 2000s. However, this doesn’t mean the fold simply doesn’t exist.
For each viewer that loads a webpage, there will only be a certain segment of the screen that they will be able to see without scrolling. Tools like Hotjar can even calculate the average fold line for your website.
Therefore, respect the fold in your design. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold. Ensure that you fit your key messaging and a CTA above the fold so that it’s easily accessible.
10. Use Images Of Real People in Your Graphic Design
As chic as a minimalistic website can be, one devoid of human touch can come across cold and impersonal. People don’t want to be sold to by robots, they crave human interaction. This is why incorporating imagery of real people can be so useful in web design.
Consider the case study by Basecamp, who experienced a massive lift in results when a cluttered design devoid of humans was replaced by faces and testimonials on a sales page.
When the sales page featured an image of a real person in the background, conversions skyrocketed by 102.5%. Faces help build trust and drive conversions — when you avoid stock photos, that is.
Most stock photos are staged and feature models with stiff, over-exasperated expressions. This can have the opposite effect that you are going for. Instead, opt for more relaxed photos of real people, preferably real employees or customers that understand your audience’s needs.
11. Stay Consistent
Developing a consistent style all depends on your choices of font, colors, quality, lighting, and proportion. For example, a headline of 120 px should not be paired with a subhead of 40 px. From the scale of your elements to how custom or stylized they are, create a cohesive feel by remaining consistent.
Similarly, this graphic design tip also refers to the images used across the page. While all images should be high-quality and well-lit, if you’re using more cool-toned imagery, all images should be cool-toned.
If you choose a variety of portraits taken from the shoulders up, retake or re-crop the photo of an employee who was posed from the waist up. These tiny details all create an overall consistent look to your design.
Pro Tip: Creating a brand book or style guidelines can go a long way to creating a cohesive design on your website.
12. Add Icons To Add Layers Of Interest
Sometimes we want to embellish on an area of text or call to action, but a full-size image would be much too distracting. This is where icons can come into play. From arrows and lightning bolts to social media icons, they can be placed to accent a section to direct traffic.
For instance, say you want to highlight the benefits of your service or product. You’ve created three separate text boxes to detail each benefit. The easiest and least-overwhelming way to add interest to these sections would be to place an icon above the top of each.
Just like photos, icons can be stylized to fit your unique tone: they can be made heavier or thinner, and their coloring can be manipulated. Likewise, icons like arrows can be used as a directional cue to guide visitors towards CTAs.
13. Keep It Simple
In the previously mentioned Google study, it was found that visitors viewed less complex graphic designs as more beautiful. That same study also discovered that “high prototypicality” also correlates with perceived beauty, meaning that a website that follows a standard template has a higher likelihood of being found appealing.
In other words, your audience likely prefers simple and easy to navigate websites. This doesn’t mean boring — feel free to utilize vibrant colors, various fonts, and high-quality imagery to create a high-impact website. However, do consider using ample white space, clean lines, and aligned elements to create a clean, simple structure.
14. Make Every Graphic Design Element Purposeful
A large part of embracing simplicity is removing extraneous design elements that serve no purpose. For instance, consider you added a thick vertical line to act as a margin for your heading and text box and stylized the section by adding various other lines.
While the original line serves a purpose, the elements added to stylize the section have actually made the text harder to read and less impactful. By removing the extraneous elements and simplifying the original margin line, the design looks cleaner and is easier to follow.
Before finalizing your graphic design, take a step to admire the page as a whole. Elements that don’t highlight or add structure to a section can likely be removed. If you’re on the fence, simply delete the item, review, and ‘undo’ the deletion if you dislike it. The beauty of most design programs is the ease with which you can add and delete elements until you’ve struck a balance of beauty and purpose.
Whether in the form of a new conversion or an increase in the average time spent on a page, good design has the power to improve your business ultimately. When you utilize these 14 tips, you can be confident you’re optimizing your site for success.