January 23, 2020
When clients tell me about their vision of their dream website design, there’s always one word in common: clean. Even when a website is filled with personality or color, everyone still wants the design to “feel clean.”
What does that really even mean?
It’s not that you want your website to feel bland or sterile—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. You want to convey a LOT of interesting information and personality to a website user… but it can’t happen all at once.
If you tried to hit your viewer with ALL of your content at the same time, none of it would actually come through to the viewer. It’s too much.
“Visual Hierarchy” is the presentation of design elements in a way that assigns priority or importance. It’s at the root of all visual processing. It’s the foundation to any design—and it can make or break your website.
Imagine a traditional newspaper. Our eyes are immediately drawn to the headline: a short title in big letters, sitting above the fold at the top of the page. We read the headline first without even thinking about it. Our brains have prioritized those letters as being much more significant than the tiny italicized caption at the bottom right corner of the page.
The same is true within your website design.
If you’ve ever tried to DIY your own website design, you know that “clean” is not as easy as you might think! Sometimes simplicity is actually incredibly difficult to achieve… that’s why graphic designers spend years studying the Principles of Design (including visual hierarchy)!
Visual hierarchy makes your information easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, a lack of visual hierarchy makes your website look cluttered.
You want to convey a lot of information to a website visitor… but you need to choose the order in which that information is presented. Which information is most important / urgent? Which details can wait? Establishing visual priority helps our brains organize all of that information quickly.
And in our industry, there are a few common mistakes that I see all the time. These design choices are a near guarantee to make your website feel clunky and cluttered. If you can eliminate these problems from your design, it will do wonders to help your site feel so fresh and so clean (clean)!
You can implement these small changes to achieve a clean layout and well-established visual hierarchy. Good luck!
If you want more tips to help you refine your brand and website, be sure to sign up for my email list—that’s where I’ll share all my favorite resources, starting with a 5-page workbook to Build Your Brand. And of course, if you decide that you need professional assistance with your website… I’d love to hear more about your vision!
*Disclaimer: I’m generalizing here. Of course, there are talented designers who have been able to create interesting concepts by breaking these guidelines. But for most people working on their own websites… stick to the rules! 😉
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