July 28, 2021
 in 
Web Design

Web Design Layout Guideline: 9 Most Important Rules Every Designer Must Know!

by

Eric Phung

Web design layout guideline is the first and foremost rule that every designer must learn to master.  Many people think that web design just needs to look great, and the rest is on the developing team. Yet that’s not true. A pretty layout is not enough for a website to be effective and helpful to users. 

Every website should be made based on usability and for the user’s experience, more than just an artistic look. At the end of the day, if your web page is not easy to use and attracts users to stay, then it’s not good enough. Now, let us save you a lot more time & effort tumbling around with thousands of words about website design practice. This is everything you should know about web design layout guidelines. Let’s dive right into it! 


  • What is a web design layout guideline? 

Website design could be a really complex subject to learn. But once you’ve understood and followed all of its fundamentals, the rest shall be your space of creativity.  If you’re wondering what web design layout is, then you’ve come to the right place. 

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In general, a website layout is a framework of a site’s structure. Think of it as the spine of your body. Without a clear layout, web designers won’t be able to navigate what they must do during the whole project. Keep in mind that when briefing and handling web layout, you must think about both the client’s need and the final user’s experience. What will be the most vital part of your site, how you’d lead users' attention and which element should be put on. Those questions are all that you should ask when it comes to web design layout.

Web design layout guidelines are the rules that define what you must do with your website. Those key points rarely change, although web design is an innovative subject. There are 9 main guides that we mention right in this article, each will tackle a different aspect of web design. These rules will help you navigate all the problems you might encounter, how to solve them to make an effective website. 

  • 9 Most vital web design layout guideline you must follow

Once you’ve understood thoroughly about web design layout guideline, now it’s time to get really specific. Down here are 9 rules that every designer must know about website design guidelines. With no further ado, let’s get to know them all! 

1. Simplicity

With website design, we just can’t underestimate the power of a gorgeous-looking website. However, not everyone comes to you just for the look. And if the look is not matching with the accessibility of information, visitors will still leave. After all, users don’t come up to a website just to admire its visual attractiveness. They have something to do with your site, and the best design will show them how to do it with ease. Don’t overwhelm your visitors with sophisticated graphics or elements. 

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Instead, try to opt-out for a simpler, yet more effective layout. Simplicity hardly ever goes out of style, so you can be sure your website will look stylish years from now. Simplicity is your best friend, but don’t keep it bland. In fact, you can still accomplish great design with simplicity by following these: 

  • Don’t use more than five colors on your webpage. Actually, a mix of 3 (plus 1 or 2) is more than just enough. 
  • Don’t use too many fonts. Just like colors, the more you have, the more complex everything becomes. Keep your design slick and minimal with a maximum of 3 fonts. Instead, try to use different sizes to create contrast or highlight. 
  • Graphic: We highly recommend using real, high-quality images instead of stock photos. But keep it clean, clean, and focus on what you’re trying to tell your visitors. Just don’t add graphics because it looks cool.

2. Visual Hierarchy

Next, right after simplicity is visual hierarchy. This rule has been our best guide from the very first day and still resonates with now. Visual hierarchy is how you organize elements on your website layout to create visual attention. Your goal here is to lead users to complete some actions in the most natural way you can.  

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To achieve this, you’ll have to learn about users’ behavior and what would trigger them to take action. Based on that, you can now determine what to show them first, second, or even last. Different ways of arranging elements will lead to a different result, and as a designer, you can 100% control that. Visual hierarchy is created through sizing, placement, and contrast of colors. We’d normally recommend always trying to highlight the brand’s tagline, call to action button to reach the conversion goal. 

3. Navigation

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The ability to navigate is always critical for visitors. Not only you’ll help them get what they want, but also clear all fussy thoughts out of their mind. Navigability should always be as effortless and simple as possible. Besides planning out a sitemap to optimize your navigability, you can also try these out: 

  • Keep your navigation bar and footer navigation simple and easy to understand. 
  • Leave trails for users to know where they are while digging into your site. Let them know they can trace back with ease. 
  • Always include a search bar for quicker action. Users can type in their desired keyword and get what they want. 
  • Don’t make users dig from layers to layers of your site. Make it simple and obvious. 

And last but not least, don’t forget to be consistent with your navigability. This means when you use one form of navigation on your first page, then all the rest must follow. 

4. Consistency

Consistency is the key fundamental that people often forget about. It’s way too easy for designers to get lost in their own creativity, and sleep on the importance of brand identity. 

In addition, to give your website a unified look and experience, there is some regulation you should follow. For example, every page must follow the same color schemes, font choice, and some specific elements’ placement. Thus don’t forget about your brand’s tone & mood. Keep your creativity wrapped all-around brand identity, you’ll create a much better website layout to serve the brand’s consistency. 

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But this does not mean that all pages must be the same. As long as you follow your web design layout guideline, then a twist here and there shall be just fine. In fact, if your page has more than 5-6 pages, creating a different layout for each might be a good idea. 

Keep in mind that everything you put on your site will affect usability and user experience. That’s why besides simplicity, designers must keep their layout consistent and strictly follow the brand guideline. 

5. Responsivity

It’s 2021 already, most of your time is spent on your mobile device, and so are your users. Most of the traffic on websites now is contributed by mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. And if a website is not compatible with their users’ screen, they’re missing out on reaching that traffic. 

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So, to maximize the effectiveness of a website, responsivity is extremely vital. If you haven’t hopped on the trend right now, then let this article be your guide. Responsive design will allow you to have an incredibly flexible website design. Just imagine it simple this way, with responsive design, every element can be stretched, resized to fit into the size of a user’s device. Sounds magical, right? Yet this is an extra step with HTML to provide a smooth & seamless experience to your users.  

One more thing we should also mention right here with responsivity is the ability to be compatible with different web browsers. Some of the most commonly used browsers are Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. And your device should work well and look slick on all of those browsers as well. 

6. Accessibility

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We’ll be understanding if you said you haven’t heard about website accessibility. Don’t worry, many others don’t know, either. However, to fully satisfy all of your users’ experience, you’ll have to step even further and make your site usable for those with disabilities. These people have all the right to scroll through any site and still experience it smoothly. However, you won’t have to figure it out on your own. The Web Accessibility Initiative and the World Wide Web Consortium have already set the guideline for accessibility. But to give you a glimpse through all of those, we’ve made a shortlist here: 

  • Visitors should be aware of your site’s content and visuals.
  • Your website should function in many different ways, both visually and through alt-text. 
  • Your content using on-page must be simple and easy to understand. 
  • Your website must be usable across different devices, browsers, and technologies 

If you want to dig deeper into this subject, we’ll soon have an article about website accessibility right on our blog here.

7. Conventionality

This is one of the most challenging fundamentals in web design layout guideline. Sometimes you’ll have to exchange uniqueness for users’ expectations. Sounds complicated, don’t worry let us break it down for you. 

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As we’ve all been an expert with internet use in some way, there is some specific convention that we’ve been too familiar with. For example, the navigation button is always on the top of every web page, or the logo should be placed on the top left. You want more, we have a lot more examples. A clickable logo that gets you back to the homepage, shopping cart icon for an e-commerce site. Images slideshow or buttons that change color when you click on. 

All of those are what we call website conventions. So the question is, should you sacrifice the uniqueness of your design for conventionality? In this case, our answer is not. This conventionality has been extremely familiar with thousands of users of all ages. If you change any of that, you’re definitely messing up with people’s habits, and it’s not going well. So in this case, conventionality is your key to users’ minds. Meet up with their expectation on such common sense, and they’ll stop wondering any further while scrolling your site. 

8. Credibility

Before coming to how you could and should build your credibility on the website, we’ll have to spend a moment to be grateful for conventionality. That guide will lend us a bit of trust from users. In other words, people trust what they feel familiar with, so the conventionality of a website will actually help a lot. 

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Next, just be clear and loud about what you’re doing, what product or services you’re trying to show them. Don’t ever make your visitors wonder about you, or have to dig deep from page to page to figure out something. Put what you sell on the front page, allowing people to know it right at first glance. 

Users’ feedback or testimonials is also a helpful way to give you some extra credibility. And last but not least, don’t forget to be clear about your contact info. Allow visitors to reach out to you at ease, and you’ll gain more trust from them. 

9. User-centricity

With web design layout guideline, no matter what you do, it all has to serve your users. Every journey you lead them through has to make them feel natural and joyful. Every detail of your design is made to satisfy their needs. If you’re not designing with user-centricity, you’re doing it completely wrong. 

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Besides focusing on all the principles, rules, and branded goals, you’ll have to design for your users as well. Do not hesitate to keep testing, collecting ideas and feedback from your audiences, and adjust accordingly. 

We hope that this web design layout guideline is useful for all fresh designers, as well as someone interested in website design. Those principles have to keep us going for years in the industry, and it’s always great to have a chance to share them with you. Now it’s time for you to put all this knowledge into real practice.


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