Things Web Designers Do That People Love

Posted in Tips, Web Design • Posted on 18 Comments

Web designers and web developers often wonder what kind of things they should do so that their audience will love them. Today we will talk about those little things that create a big impact on people throughout the internet.

As an avid internet user myself, I usually remember a website (even if it has a very difficult domain name) that gave an impact to me. Like the way how every elements are laid out in harmony, the simplicity or complexity (in a good way), and many more.

What are we waiting for? I’ll start with a few things and I hope you’ll add more in the comments!

Good Navigation

A good web designer understands that visiting a new website may be confusing at first, because it’s a new layout and the new visitor will not automatically know where to find things. The same is true when you visit a new friend’s home, you don’t know initially where the john is or where to sit and relax.

A good web designer is a good host to his guests, that’s why they will need to guide the visitors’ eyes like they are giving a tutorial on how to use the website, only it is actually without telling them. It’s the mark of a good web designer to place elements where the visitors will expect them to be, or create an attention getter. For example, the Login and Register links are usually at the top right corner of the website, below it is the search function. An example of a good attention getter are Call-to-action buttons which tells the visitor/audience what the button is about.

I’ve recently discussed the difference between using a horizontal and vertical navigation for websites. That applies here, obviously, because there will be people who would prefer to have all navigation at the top, laid horizontally.

Nettuts

One particular website that I love is Net Tuts+. The color scheme is simple, there’s a lot of space to breathe and navigation is simple –  all of the important things you need to use to navigate the site are at the top.

Familiar Setting

While it is perfectly normal to experiment and show the world your creation, it is not really a good thing especially if you are aiming for mainstream. Take for example websites with vertical navigation. There hare websites that hit the correct spot, but such a design is not really accepted widely.

A good web designer knows when to provide their audience new things, such as art-directed designs for blog posts. They also understand that, while unique is good, it will be bad to deviate too much from the accepted standards.

Key elements such as the navigation should be placed where the visitor will expect it to be.

Flexible Design

This might be the hardest and most stressful part of designing, making sure that your design is not messed up on different browsers and machines. One problem about new designers is that they tend to not take notice of the fonts they use, if the other users have it or not, or if it runs on a Mac and others.

Since we all have our preference with internet browsers, it is the duty of web designers to make sure that their design appear correct on my Chrome, on your Firefox, and on old Nan’s IE6.

We need to address this question here: is it a requirement that websites should look the same for every browser?

Useful article for CSS/HTML effects for people worrying about cross-browser compatibility. And yes, you’ll see good ol’ IE.

Redesign for Comfort

A good web designer does not redesign a website to give its users great discomfort, they redesign a website to make it easier to use, even for new comers. This is where some big websites failed in the past, websites like Digg and the Gawker network suffered major losses in their users because of their redesign. Whether it’s because of the redesign not being good or the hive mind at work, it’s still a great stab on them.

I’m proud to include 1stwebdesigner here. I’m pretty sure that 99% of our loyal readers and frequent visitors liked the redesign. I was actually ecstatic to see this website change from the dark blue background and small thumbnails, and a little compact front page, to what you see now.

1wd

I think you all will agree that 1stwebdesigner today is much cleaner than before. I can’t tell if it’s a good thing for certain, but the removal of tabs just after the post made the front page easier to look at.

Going back, if there’s an oath that web designers should take when redesigning a website, it should mention that they need to make things comfortable for the users, not complex.

Any of you redesigned your website? Now is the perfect time to boast your redesign by posting image links on the comments, before and after. You can take a “before” snapshot using the Internet Archive.

Listens to Feedback

Feedbackreply

Once a website goes live what owners usually do is ask people what they think about the design and functionality. You can easily spot a great web designer and web developer when they actually listen to the people and apply necessary changes when the argument is valid. People love talking to web designers and developers especially when they get the feeling of “being on the same plane,” when they respond to the people. Again, 1stwebdesigner did this when the announcement (see page 1 of comments) was made about the new design. People came flocking in and gave Dainis their suggestions. One was the size (570px by 300px) of thumbnails for the Further Readings, now changed to 150×150.

Small Things

In my previous article (Ancient Web Design Practices that Beginners Should Avoid) I mentioned that the worst thing a designer could do is to not learn new things and just settle for what they already know. That they need to follow suit as technology advances for the comfort of their users.

Things like learning CSS and jQuery can mean a lot to the users, especially when it’s functionality and usability we’re talking about. Take for example major commenting systems. Three years ago you will need to refresh the webpage to see if a new comment has been posted, now you don’t have to. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook, the ease of access is there, it’s a little thing that all of us love.

Another important factor to consider on your designs is negative space, often called white space. It is often overlooked because of the thought that every nook and cranny of the website should be filled with something. Wrong. The effective use of negative space gives a sense of relaxation to the visitors, erasing the feeling of being packed in a tight space. Negative space communicate

What else?

I’m pretty sure there’s still a lot of things out there that can make visitors/audience/users fall in love with your design, so why not share them here if you know one? I’m certain that other web designers and developers will find your tips useful!

114 Written ArticlesWebsiteGoogle+

Rean concurrently served as the Head of Operations and Editor-in-Chief of 1stwebdesigner from 2011 up until Aug 2014. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development with a little touch of internet marketing here and there.

18 Comments Best Comments First
  • Steve Royall

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 09:13

    8

    I work for a large insurance company and we still have a large base of users that use IE6. We have to take the approach that if they want/have to use IE6 then they should at the very least be able to use our website without hindrance.
    If they have a modern browser then out come the whistles and bells.

    0
  • Audrey

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 20:36

    6

    Nowadays, compatibility with IE6 is not really a problem. It can still sometimes be more difficult to optenir a 100% compatibility with IE7, but in general, now really beginning to IE6 abondonné, webdesigner life is easy. Anyway, personally, I like the designs proposed.

    0
  • govind Gupta

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 20:31

    5

    Some times its a pain
    in the ass to read what blog owners wrote but
    this website is really user genial!

    0
  • Jason

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 14:50

    2

    Good article. The only thing I really disagree with is having to support IE6. I think that’s a very outdated browser and if people are still using it they need to change. If developers and designers keep supporting it, there will be no incentive for Old Nan to upgrade. Oh, and shame on Old Nan’s grandson for not upgrading for her.

    0
    • PhamKy

      Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 15:26

      3

      I think in the future, we should not support IE6 but now, IE6 is also a popular browser. your website should be design to compatibility with IE6. Maybe you will lost more traffics if not support it!

      0
      • Dainis Graveris

        Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 20:07

        1

        Actually my own stand is also against worrying about IE6 support. From 1WD visitors for example just 5.50% use IE6 (and those are not all visitors..just IE visitors at all).

        Of course you should search your own analytics and it depends from site..but mostly it’s not worth..supporting.

        0
        • PhamKy

          Thursday, August 11th, 2011 04:13

          7

          Maybe you right! Thanks for the useful post.

          0
          • Sagar

            Sunday, December 25th, 2011 14:28

            16

            IE 9 is a good browser, but IE 6 is very outdated. I think people should switch to Chrome or Firefox because they are updated frequently with new features.

            0
  • Renato Alves

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 17:05

    4

    There are two things that I’d like to put here:

    First: I agree totally about the redesign purpose, this was a lesson I learned a time ago when reading a web design book telling that design is not revolution and yes improvements that you make on the overall design. The new design of this blog got much more better compared with the last one, besides trying to come out with something new I think usability and reading issues was considered carefully when deciding what to change.

    Second: Jason told on the comment above that it not a good idea to support IE6, I agree and on the same time I don’t with his statement. I’ll try to put an example of mine, right now I’m working on personal blog redesign (Blog Inglês na Rede), this is a personal blog where I share English tips to Brazilian students. The point is that my English blog has about 25% to 30% of users using IE6. Although I noticed that this number in downsizing each month. Although I think IE6 is a pain in the ass, when necessary, it’s worth the hard work, at least until everybody is updated.

    Thanks alot of the great article. :)

    0
  • Simon

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 19:38

    9

    Rean,

    Great article. Interesting your point about not causing the audience discomfort. I had not thought about it that way. However, I do know that (as I get older) I get annoyed when web sites change there navigation and I suddenly don’t know where to find something or how to do something.

    Classic was when ebay changed where they placed the purchase history. Obvious when you know but took me days to discover.

    Simon
    Colchester, UK

    0
  • Stan

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 21:13

    10

    IE 6 support is really becoming irrelevant. Firefox and Chrome are marketed enough online that the majority of users are using one or the other. IE 6 has become one of the hardest browsers to work with.

    0
  • Rafa

    Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 18:48

    17

    In my opinion one thing that designers shoul not forget about is investigation. There’s a tool called crazyegg which shows you where your visitors are clicking and that kind of information can be very useful to improve user experience. For instance, are people clicking on an image that is not linked? Why is that? Should you make it clickable? You can really learn a lot about the way visitors interact with your site.

    0
  • Shubham Gupta

    Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 09:44

    18

    Web design must be responsive, clean and fast loading. Responsive web design is very important because it adjusts according to the width of the device you are on. Very detailed article and it will help many to understand what exactly is a good design.

    0
  • Lance Brown

    Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 17:58

    15

    This is a good list. I try to incorporate all of these elements into my designs, but it’s good to have this refresher to review when starting a new design. Great tips.

    0
  • Michael Francis

    Thursday, September 29th, 2011 21:52

    14

    All good tips for designers! Definitely should be common sense by now.

    0
  • Melanie

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 21:43

    11

    Good navigation is essential. If people can’t easily find what they are looking for, they aren’t going to stick around.

    On another note, I love your “Did you enjoy this article and found it useful?” box!

    0
  • Josh Kohlbach

    Monday, August 15th, 2011 01:39

    12

    I have to say I do like the new theme you guys are using here in place of the old one. Dainis has done a great job.

    Isn’t it funny how we always want to iterate and iterate over our own designs so much. It’s so hard to settle on something as a designer!

    0
  • Tim

    Friday, September 16th, 2011 03:08

    13

    I will read the rest of this article because i am interested in the content, and then the comments, but I am compelled to comment now on what I love about a website. Correct spelling. Sorry, I don’t want to sound harsh but it takes away credibility, at least to me.

    0
  • Shubham Gupta

    Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 09:44

    18

    Web design must be responsive, clean and fast loading. Responsive web design is very important because it adjusts according to the width of the device you are on. Very detailed article and it will help many to understand what exactly is a good design.

    0
  • Rafa

    Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 18:48

    17

    In my opinion one thing that designers shoul not forget about is investigation. There’s a tool called crazyegg which shows you where your visitors are clicking and that kind of information can be very useful to improve user experience. For instance, are people clicking on an image that is not linked? Why is that? Should you make it clickable? You can really learn a lot about the way visitors interact with your site.

    0
  • Lance Brown

    Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 17:58

    15

    This is a good list. I try to incorporate all of these elements into my designs, but it’s good to have this refresher to review when starting a new design. Great tips.

    0
  • Michael Francis

    Thursday, September 29th, 2011 21:52

    14

    All good tips for designers! Definitely should be common sense by now.

    0
  • Tim

    Friday, September 16th, 2011 03:08

    13

    I will read the rest of this article because i am interested in the content, and then the comments, but I am compelled to comment now on what I love about a website. Correct spelling. Sorry, I don’t want to sound harsh but it takes away credibility, at least to me.

    0
  • Josh Kohlbach

    Monday, August 15th, 2011 01:39

    12

    I have to say I do like the new theme you guys are using here in place of the old one. Dainis has done a great job.

    Isn’t it funny how we always want to iterate and iterate over our own designs so much. It’s so hard to settle on something as a designer!

    0
  • Melanie

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 21:43

    11

    Good navigation is essential. If people can’t easily find what they are looking for, they aren’t going to stick around.

    On another note, I love your “Did you enjoy this article and found it useful?” box!

    0
  • Stan

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 21:13

    10

    IE 6 support is really becoming irrelevant. Firefox and Chrome are marketed enough online that the majority of users are using one or the other. IE 6 has become one of the hardest browsers to work with.

    0
  • Simon

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 19:38

    9

    Rean,

    Great article. Interesting your point about not causing the audience discomfort. I had not thought about it that way. However, I do know that (as I get older) I get annoyed when web sites change there navigation and I suddenly don’t know where to find something or how to do something.

    Classic was when ebay changed where they placed the purchase history. Obvious when you know but took me days to discover.

    Simon
    Colchester, UK

    0
  • Steve Royall

    Thursday, August 11th, 2011 09:13

    8

    I work for a large insurance company and we still have a large base of users that use IE6. We have to take the approach that if they want/have to use IE6 then they should at the very least be able to use our website without hindrance.
    If they have a modern browser then out come the whistles and bells.

    0
  • Audrey

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 20:36

    6

    Nowadays, compatibility with IE6 is not really a problem. It can still sometimes be more difficult to optenir a 100% compatibility with IE7, but in general, now really beginning to IE6 abondonné, webdesigner life is easy. Anyway, personally, I like the designs proposed.

    0
  • govind Gupta

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 20:31

    5

    Some times its a pain
    in the ass to read what blog owners wrote but
    this website is really user genial!

    0
  • Renato Alves

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 17:05

    4

    There are two things that I’d like to put here:

    First: I agree totally about the redesign purpose, this was a lesson I learned a time ago when reading a web design book telling that design is not revolution and yes improvements that you make on the overall design. The new design of this blog got much more better compared with the last one, besides trying to come out with something new I think usability and reading issues was considered carefully when deciding what to change.

    Second: Jason told on the comment above that it not a good idea to support IE6, I agree and on the same time I don’t with his statement. I’ll try to put an example of mine, right now I’m working on personal blog redesign (Blog Inglês na Rede), this is a personal blog where I share English tips to Brazilian students. The point is that my English blog has about 25% to 30% of users using IE6. Although I noticed that this number in downsizing each month. Although I think IE6 is a pain in the ass, when necessary, it’s worth the hard work, at least until everybody is updated.

    Thanks alot of the great article. :)

    0
  • Jason

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 14:50

    2

    Good article. The only thing I really disagree with is having to support IE6. I think that’s a very outdated browser and if people are still using it they need to change. If developers and designers keep supporting it, there will be no incentive for Old Nan to upgrade. Oh, and shame on Old Nan’s grandson for not upgrading for her.

    0
    • PhamKy

      Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 15:26

      3

      I think in the future, we should not support IE6 but now, IE6 is also a popular browser. your website should be design to compatibility with IE6. Maybe you will lost more traffics if not support it!

      0
      • Dainis Graveris

        Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 20:07

        1

        Actually my own stand is also against worrying about IE6 support. From 1WD visitors for example just 5.50% use IE6 (and those are not all visitors..just IE visitors at all).

        Of course you should search your own analytics and it depends from site..but mostly it’s not worth..supporting.

        0
        • PhamKy

          Thursday, August 11th, 2011 04:13

          7

          Maybe you right! Thanks for the useful post.

          0
          • Sagar

            Sunday, December 25th, 2011 14:28

            16

            IE 9 is a good browser, but IE 6 is very outdated. I think people should switch to Chrome or Firefox because they are updated frequently with new features.

            0

Comments are closed.

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