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Design Principles that Shape a Web Site

Have you ever wondered why one web page interests you while another leaves you cold? If you're designing your own web site, that topic is of more than idle interest. There are specific design principles that you can use to ensure web surfers have a good experience when they visit your web site and keep coming back for more. This article explains the details.

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By: Stephen Davies
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July 25, 2007
  1. · Design Principles that Shape a Web Site
  2. · The aesthetics of web design
  3. · What Software?
  4. · Compositing the visual elements

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Design Principles that Shape a Web Site
(Page 1 of 4 )

The fundamental principles

As building a web site is a combination of graphic and information design, it is important to know the concepts of applying, selecting and arranging how the message will be communicated. Graphic design takes on many forms such as drawing, photography and of course today the now familiar web page. All methods have to be clear in how the message behind the visualization is conveyed.

There is a range of fundamental principles that apply when designing anything. This is even more true for web pages, which require an attention span from the site audience:

  1. Alignment - This describes how the information is justified against the margins of the page, left or right or center, as well as the spacing between the letters and sentences.
  2. Color - The choice of how bright and/or contrasting various images are in terms of their color directly affects the perception and observation of the viewer.
  3. Emphasis - This focuses on how noticeable the content is to the viewer and which part of it should stand out first against the surrounding frames of other content.
  4. Patterns - This refers to the shape of the web templates and how their design factors will appeal or not appeal to your target audience.
  5. Proportion - This describes how the elements in a design interact.
  6. Repetition - This refers mainly to the content and which areas are repeated more on the basis of emphasis.
  7. Texture - This refers to the image that is applied to the surface of the page and the page elements.
  8. White space - This is an aid to alignment in supporting the appearance and composition of the elements on the web page.


These factors form the principles of design -- all aspects of design, not just design for the web. The classic theory of design is based on the visual excitement of a piece of work and the resulting composition of the elements of that design following the principles of the design layout. The design elements are the fundamental aspects forming the parts of that piece of work.

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