5 Key Elements for Effective Web Design

Web Design

Whether your goal is to build an online presence or sell a product, the difference in one more sale or “conversion” could come down to the choices you make in your website’s design. The story your brand tells and your customer’s experience is key to these choices. Read on to learn 5 elements that contribute to an effective web design.

Color Scheme

Believe it or not, color matters A LOT. According to the Institute for Color Research, the average person makes a subconscious judgment about a product, person or environment within 90 seconds and more than two-thirds of that judgment is based on color.

For example, when deciding the background color of your website you should also consider the color of your text. According to Silk Cards there are two basic compositional forms of color. One is harmony, and the other is the contrast and both need to work in unison to elevate user experience.  

You can also use color to influence your users emotional response to your site. TNW explains that each color evokes a specific mood: the brighter warm colors like red tend to energize a user and make them more alert, while darker cool shades like green or purple tend to be more relaxing and tranquil.

Color wheel shows how color theory helps a website

Usability and Utility

The success or failure of a website is heavily connected to its usability and function. A great user experience means your site is easy to navigate, intuitive to use and promotes conversions and returning visits. It also means that it does what it was meant to do, free of problems like broken links, missing images, or a botched checkout process.

It’s also important to remove any friction. Friction refers to anything that prevents a user from accomplishing a goal.

For example:

  • Cluttered or distracting visuals
  • Overcomplicated functions
  • Inconsistencies in layout
  • Unnecessary actions

Friction weighs down user experience, making even well-designed websites difficult to navigate. Your goal is to create interactions that unravel with a natural sense of order and logic. A frictionless website leads to clean interactions without complications and more often than not, a conversion.

The Wheels and Gears show how utility matters for a website


Typography has two components: legibility and messaging. You get a different feel from a website that uses a script font for headlines versus a website that uses a plain, sans-serif font. That feel, in part, is messaging. If you were a law firm, would you use an ornate script? What message would that send?

When it comes to reading text on a website, fonts are one of the most critical aspects that determine how well the readers will absorb your messaging. Typically, what works well for print does not work well for websites.

There are four essential aspects in considering font choices:

  1. Style: serif, sans serif, script, condensed, etc
  2. Size
  3. Line spacing
  4. Age of the reader
  5. Intensity of the font (light, regular, bold)

When it comes to reading online, small font sizes, thin and low contrast fonts are the number one complaint by users. Every typography display that you choose either adds or subtracts from user experience so it’s important to invest in typography that best reflects your brand’s personality and that your target audience can identify with.

Typography effects how users experience a website


The layout takes all the components of your content: photos, illustrations, copy, etc and organizes them in a meaningful way.

  • Does the flow make sense for your users as they scroll down the page?
  • Does it give them a clear direction of where to go next?
  • Is it visually pleasing?
  • Do the images next to blocks of text have a purpose?
  • Is it easy to read the copy?
  • Where is the navigation/menu?
  • How many calls to action are you giving?

A great layout will flow well and your customers will remember that. Anything you can do to minimize confusion or doubt will make the experience more productive for them.

Layout visually helps user experience


This probably seems like a “duh” element to include but you would be surprised how often design is undervalued. The design is more than just a beauty contest, it’s about messaging and consistency. You will almost always have multiple pages on your website so it’s important that no matter where a user is at, their experience is consistent across the board. Don’t mistake a good “template” as good design for your website investment.

All of the elements of color, type, layout, and usability should be working together with your content to make for a controlled and targeted user experience and design is the glue that keeps them all together. The design is an integral part of your web marketing strategy – it combines every aspect of web development and drives user experience.

Design and style matter for a website's user experience

Don’t Miss The Mark

Missing the mark on one element and could cause your business to miss out on potential inquiries or sales. But execute correctly on all parts and you will have an incredibly impactful website.

Designing a new website requires planning and is a lot of work.We recommend working with a designer or an agency that has a web development team, it will make your life so much easier! If you’re looking to improve your website we suggest starting by asking yourself these questions and after that, send us a note at [email protected]. We have a full team of creative geniuses that would love to transform your online presence.

About the Author

Piper Denney

Piper is a Senior Web Developer at Intuitive Digital. They bring a wealth of technical expertise and a keen eye for design to every project they work on. Piper's passion lies in helping businesses achieve their long term goals with beautiful & functional sites that integrate seamlessly with their existing technological needs. Outside of work, Piper enjoys taking long walks and writing music.

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