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20 Principles of Web Design Theory

Updated February 1, 2023
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20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Your website design plays a more significant role in conversions than you might think. You can use any conversion-boosting strategy in the world but if your website design is not professional, it won’t help you.

These web design principles are essential to remember when designing your website, no matter if you’re updating an existing site or creating a new one.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Intro

They can help you design a website that is contemporary, intuitive, and simple to navigate.

Design is more than something that designers do. Marketing is design. Your product is design and how it works. I have seen great results from web design.

This post will teach you essential web design principles you must know and follow. I will also discuss Gestalt Design Laws, which are crucial for web design theory.

These are the eight most important principles in web design.

1. Proximity law

Things that are very close in space are often grouped. They are merged into one perceived object.

To ensure effective web design, ensure that elements that do and do not go with each other are not interpreted as one. You also group related design elements together (footer, navigation menu, etc.). To communicate the idea that they are the same.
20 Principles of Web Design Theory: The Law of Proximity explains how the mind groups or separates items based on distance.
Craigslist makes it easy to see which sub-categories are included under “for sale” by using this law:

2. Consistency

Design excellence is consistent in all aspects.

Your target audience will trust you if your designs are consistent across all channels.

You should use the same visual style for your website and print marketing materials.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Communicating professionalism and brand identity through multiple channels by using the same message, colors, and identity is important.

This will help you build trust and familiarity with your readers and show that you are a consistent brand in all you do.

You should ensure consistency in your visual design and tone across multiple platforms you use to promote your business.

3. Visual Hierarchy

The grease is on the wheels, but prominent visuals grab the attention. The most important principle behind web design is the visual hierarchy. It is the way the human eye perceives things.

Exercise. Please rank each circle in order of importance.

You were not able to rank these circles without any information.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Some parts of your website are more valuable than others. Forms call for action, value proposition, HTML3_ HTML3_, HTML4_ HTML5_, HTML5_ HTML5_, calls for action HTML5_, calls for action HTML5_, calls to actions HTML5_, , , HTML3_ HTML5_, HTML3_ You want the most important parts of your website to be more prominent than the rest.

Are all 10 items on a website menu equally important? What do you want the user to click? Highlight important links.

Size is not the only thing that makes hierarchy possible. Amazon uses color to make the “Add to Cart”, and “Buy Now call to action buttons more visible.
Which buttons catch your eye? Color can help elements of a web page stand out.

Get started with your business goal.

Your business objective should guide you in ranking elements of your website. You won’t be able to prioritize elements if you don’t have a clear goal.

Here’s one example. This is a screenshot that I took from Williams-Sonoma’s website. They want to sell outdoor cookware.
Effective web design requires visual hierarchy.
20 Principles of Web Design Theory: The largest eye-catcher is the large piece of meat (make it want it), followed closely by the headline (say it is) and a call for action (get it). A paragraph occupies the fourth place under the headline. The fifth is the banner offering free shipping, while the top navigation is last.

This is visual hierarchy, a timeless principle in web design.

Exercise. Surf the internet and rank elements according to the visual hierarchy. Next, take a look at your website. Do you see something that is important? Is there any information (e.g., key information that visitors are looking for) that is too low in the hierarchy? It should be more prominent.

4. Gestalt law for similarity

The theory of mind and brain are known as Gestalt psychology. The principle behind Gestalt psychology is that the human eye perceives objects in all their parts before recognizing their parts. Similar things are often grouped. These similarities can be in shape, color or shading.

Because dots of the same color look similar, we have grouped them.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: How does this apply to web design? Mixpanel uses the same design for links to the case study, so they are all considered one group and reinforce each other.

The mind sees objects as symmetrical because they are centered around a central point. It is pleasing perceptually to divide objects into symmetrical parts.

The mind connects two unconnected symmetrical elements to create a coherent shape when seen together.

The image above shows us that we are more likely to see three pairs of symmetrical brackets than six.

People prefer asymmetrical appearances. The Trello homepage design is visually appealing with its alternating columns of images, text, and three-column lists.

Let me explain:

You can see the dog clearly without focusing on every black spot. Kurt Koffka was the founder of Gestaltism. Stated that “the whole exists independent from the parts.”

Web design is all about the site. People first see the entire website before distinguishing the header, menu, and footer.

Eight gestalt design principles are used to predict how people will see something. Let’s see how each one relates to web designing.

5. Typography and readability

If your content doesn’t look attractive, you can’t expect them to read it.

You need to choose fonts that are compatible with your website’s content.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Avoid using fancy fonts on websites. Stick to professional fonts that are easy to read and legible.

It is also a good idea to highlight keywords and phrases in bold or capital letters. To make your content more exciting and readable, you can use different font sizes.

Instead of writing all your content in one font, you can use several smaller fonts in different sizes to break up the page and make it easier for your readers to see each section.

It is possible to have your font too small or too big on a mobile device or computer screen.

6. Divine Proportions

The lower-case Greek letter phi is used for the Golden Ratio.
The Golden Ratio refers to the magic number 1.618 (ph). It is believed that designs using proportions determined by the golden ratio look more pleasing.

There’s also the Fibonacci sequence. Each term consists of the sum of two terms: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so forth. It’s interesting to note that it is produced by two seemingly unrelated topics.

Here’s how the Golden Ratio looks:

  1. Many artists and architects approximate the Golden Ratio with proportions. The Parthenon, an ancient Greek monument, is a famous example.
  2. 20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Is the Golden Ratio applicable to web design? You bet. Here’s Twitter:
  3. Here’s an old comment by Doug Bowman, Twitter’s creative director. This design choice was not accidental.
  4. Divide your layout width by 1.618 to get a value of 960px (=593px). The content area width should be 593px, and the sidebar should be 367px. If your website is taller than 760px, you can divide it into 470px or 290px pieces (760/1.618=470).

7. Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law states that every additional option increases the time it takes to decide.

This is something you’ve seen many times in restaurants. It can be difficult to choose the right meal from a menu with so many options. It would be much easier to decide if there were two options. This is similar to the Paradox Of Choice: the more options you offer, the easier it will be to choose nothing. These principles apply to web design.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Your website will be more challenging to use if more options are available. We must eliminate all options. Focus on eliminating distractions from the web design process to create a better website.

People need better filters in an age of endless choice. For easier decision-making, if you sell many products, make sure to add better filters. Wine Library offers a large selection of wine.

They do a great job with filters.

8. Gestalt law for Continuity

People tend to see a line as extending in the same direction if there is an intersection between objects (e.g. We tend to see the lines as one entity, even though they intersect (e.g. Stimuli can be distinguished even if they overlap.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Fixel makes use of this to connect bios to faces:

There are also other gestalt laws, such as Ground and Figure. These are, however, the most important principles to consider when designing websites.

9. Fitt’s law

Fitt’s law states the time it takes to reach a target area (e.g. Click a button. The distance from the target is dependent on the size. The simpler it is to use, the larger and closer an object is.

Spotify makes it much easier to click “Play” than any other button.

They also placed the play button conveniently on the mobile app.

Bigger isn’t always better. A button that occupies half of the screen is not a good idea. We don’t need to do a math study to see this. Fitt’s Law, however, is a binary logarithm. Therefore, the predicted usability results for an object are calculated along a curve and not straight lines.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: It is easier to click a tiny button with a 20% increase in size. However, a large object will not have the same usability benefits if it has the same 20% increase in size.

This is similar to the rule about target size. A button’s size should be proportional to its expected frequency of usage. To see which buttons are most used, you can use mouse tracking. Then make the buttons more accessible (and easier to hit).

Let’s say you have a form that you need people to fill out. There are two buttons at the bottom of the form: “Submit” or “Reset”. (clear fields).

99.9999% of people want to click “Submit”. Therefore, the button should be larger than reset.

10. Clean design and white space

White space, also known as “negative space”, is the area of a website that is left “empty.” This includes the space between graphics and margins, gutters, columns, visuals, and space between lines of text or type.

It’s more than just a “blank” space. It’s an essential element of web design. It allows objects to exist within it. White space refers to the use of hierarchy, whether it is for information, typography, or images.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: If there is no white space on a page, it can look cluttered or busy. It’s often difficult to read. People won’t bother to read it. This is why simple websites are more scientifically superior.

A website that has the right amount of whitespace will look clean.

Clean design makes the most of the space. You must know how to use white space effectively to create a clean website design. makes use of white space effectively:

It is easy to see the main message and visuals through white space, while the body copy is clear and easy to read. White space, in general, promotes elegance and sophistication, increases legibility and drives focus.

Learn more about whitespace and simplicity.

11. Rule of thirds

Images are a great idea. Visual communication is much more effective than text.

The rule to thirds is the best way to create images. An image should be divided into nine equal parts using horizontal and vertical lines. These lines should be used to place critical compositional elements or at their intersections.

See below how the image to the right is better. This is the rule of thirds at work.
20 Principles of Web Design Theory: The rule of Thirds is an easy design principle for images.
Good web design is achieved by using large, beautiful images. Your website will look better if your images are more engaging.

12. Simple is best

A website that is well-designed should be simple. This is crucial for both the readability as well as usability of your website.

Website design trends aren’t always the most effective.

Many people use complicated elements and templates to make them stand out among the rest.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Your designs should be simple and straightforward so that they are easy to understand. Avoid using unnecessary elements or details, and keep your website clutter-free.

It doesn’t mean you have to choose a minimalistic website design. However, details must be helpful and add value to your website when added.

Your content will shine when your website is easy to use.

13. Closure

We seek completeness. Our perception fills in any visual gaps between shapes or areas of a photograph. We perceive a square and a circle in the graphic below, even though neither of these shapes exists.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: We would only see lines of different lengths without the law of closure. The law of closure merges the lines to create whole shapes.

Logos and design elements can be made more interesting by using the law of closure. One example of this is the World Wide Fund For Nature logo. It was created by Sir Peter Scott in 1961.

14. Rapid loading

You want your website to load quickly in these times of instant gratification. Customers will leave your site if it takes longer to load.

Your readers shouldn’t spend too much time on the site when trying to find information or to make a purchase.

A WordPress theme will ensure your site loads quickly.

Here’s an example of how a website created with the Astra theme performs.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: It scored a 100 on PageSpeed insights. It loads in under a second.

The first impression is crucial. Most people will not visit your site again if it loads slowly.

It could also be why people leave your site before they find what they are looking for.

15. Common Fate

Our tendency is to see objects as lines moving along a path. We tend to group objects with the same motion trend and are on the same path.

People tend to group sticks or raise their hands in the same direction mentally. This can direct the user’s attention in your website design (e.g. a sign-up form, value proposition, etc).

If there are several dots in an array and half of them move upward while the other half move down, then we see the upward-moving and the downward-moving dots separately.

16. Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor encourages you to choose the hypothesis that makes the least assumptions and offers the most explanation. Occam’s Razor, used in web design, argues that the best solution is often the easiest.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Pipedrive’s team wrote this blog post about their Angelpad experience.

We were challenged by mentors and the Angelpad team in many ways. We were initially hesitant to agree with the statement “You have too much on your homepage”, but we are happy to try it. It turned out that we were wrong. We deleted 80% of the content and left only one sign-up button on the homepage and one Learn More link. The conversion rate to sign up rose by 30%.

It’s not about how it looks but also how it works. 37Signals is one example of such a company. Here is a quote taken from rework, by Jason Fried, founders.

Many people dislike us because our products are less efficient than the competition. We refuse to include their favorite feature, and they are offended. We are just as proud of the things our products don’t do as they are of the ones that do. Because most software is too complicated, it’s too complex. We designed them to be easy.

A simple, minimalist design doesn’t guarantee that it will work. However, simplicity is better than complexity in my opinion. Therefore, it’s important to simplify web design.

17. Mobile-friendly responsive website

Your success is dependent on a responsive, user-friendly website.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Did you know that almost 60% of all website traffic comes via mobile devices?

You want your users to be able to navigate quickly around your website, so make sure you design the site with mobile users in view.

This is possible by using responsive design, which adjusts the layout to suit the viewing device (e.g. tablet, computer or mobile phone).

18. The Color Palette and Imagery

You have millions of possible color combinations for your website design. You don’t want it to be too wide or too many colors.

Keep your palette simple, and only use three to five colors in the design.

Including too many images in your design is not a good idea.

Images that best represent your brand, product, or service should be used. You don’t want to use images that aren’t relevant or don’t add value.

It is important to think about the tone and visual style of a website when designing it.

You must also keep the design clean and simple so that it is easy to navigate.

Your website doesn’t need to be complex, with lots of images and details. You only need a simple, modern, easy-to-use design.

19. Simple navigation

The key to a modern, easy-to-use website design is a navigation

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: It is important to ensure that navigation is simple and clear with a logical hierarchy. This will make it easy for visitors to navigate from one part of your website into another.

You also want your navigation to be consistent across all pages.

This can be done in various ways, such as a navigation menu or structured navigation.

20. Communication

Communication is the key to website design.

Your website design should communicate clearly so potential clients understand what you are trying to say.

This can be done by using images, color palettes and typography to create a visual language that conveys your brand’s values and personality.

You also need to ensure your visual designs are simple and quick to load.


Web design and art are two different things. Website design is governed by many psychological and design principles. These laws can be applied to your layout, typography and images to create a stunning website.

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: Design for the user , and your business goals. Web design can be both visually pleasing and financially profitable.

Great websites are designed for readers, not the designer.

Your branding should be consistent and easy to use. These are all important factors for providing a great user experience.

It is important to remember that design is not just about aesthetics.

A website’s design should make it easy for users to navigate and find the information they need.

These are the key elements to make it happen:

  • What are your visitors looking to find?
  • What are the most likely ways your visitors will interact with your website?
  • What actions are they looking for or need?

20 Principles of Web Design Theory: It is not easy to create a website for a business.

The same goes for an online presence that potential customers and shoppers will notice.

We have you covered, but don’t panic!


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