Rules are made to be broken, and the world of web design is no exception. The Internet and the media that drives it are ever evolving, and so the law that dictates the design for one website may not apply to others.
Often, it is web designers who are willing to step out of the box and break a few rules who create the most stunning and memorable final design.
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Rule #1: Lay each page of a website out using the same format.
The basis of this rule is that consistency makes website visitors feel at home, and that is a good thing. It makes them more likely to remain at the website and travel between pages. Be aware, however, that it can also limit the site’s visual interest and design possibilities and make certain content unwieldy. By breaking this rule, while keeping its purpose in mind, it is possible to create a design that is interesting and well suited to the site’s content, while remaining consistent. The bottom line is that formatting should be created to fit the content, not the other way around.Design each web page with its content and purpose in mind, ensuring that the content is easy to navigate and use. Within that design keep certain elements, like thecolor scheme, a tool bar, a logo and the home page link, consistent on every page of the site. This will create an overall design that is both visually appealing and easy to use.
Rule #2: Use a limited number of fonts
Each font is distinct and eye catching; it sets the tone for the website and gives readers a sense of what to expect. The theory behind this rule is that using too many fonts sends conflicting messages, and creates disorder, making a web page’s design seem ammature and busy. This rule can and should be broken if the websites design is heavily textual. When experimenting with multiple fonts on a website, the thing to remember is blending. The fonts should blend into the overall design for a sense of direction and unity.Using many fonts is typically most successful when used in a non-linear design, or in a website that uses open space well to create division between fonts, and the themes within the site they represent.
Rule #3: Keep the design simple
This rule is intended to make the page easier to navigate, but like the first rule, limits possibilities. A complex website is not only more visually interesting than a simple site, it can also be easier to use, if well designed. This rule is also limits over-the-top animation, color, and other design flaws, which plague the amateur web designer, because they are trying to use every skill they know in a single design. Breaking this rule, in a way that is visual pleasing and improves site usability, is what separates the amateurs from web design professionals. Web designers push the envelope and use techniques outside the norm, and create complex web site interfaces using a variety of colors, in order to create a final site design that is completely unique, dynamic, and ultimately user friendly. When playing with design and color, remember that something that uses too many colors, animations, or other elements may look like a circus and detract from the site’s purpose, but playing it to safe will leave the website lifeless and users will quickly forget the experience.
Rule # 4: Use a different color palate for the background and text
This rule is really, largely a misunderstanding. The true rule is that text should be in a color that contrasts with the background, and which is easy to read. Most amateurs, however, interpret this rule as “Don’t put blue letters on a blue background.” Using a dark background and a light text for font both in the same color spectrum can give the website a sense of unity and garner interest if used well. Using darker letters on a lighter background, or vice versa, can give the site a 3-D appearance, making letters pop out of recess into the site. Use colors carefully, and with purpose. Ensure that each piece of text on a website is readable, and easy to access. Past that, use your best judgement in the final design.
Rule # 5: Incorporate social media
With the growing popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media groups, it has become a rule to incorporate social networking opportunities into every site. Truth is, however, that some things are still private, and there is no need to link them to social networks. The rule to be followed is instead, this: include space in the web design for social networking if the client’s business will benefit from the inclusion.
The most important element of any website’s design is its originality. If web designers followed all the rules, then every website would begin to look the same, and web-based media would lose the dynamics that make it work. The most effective way to break the rules is to remember and respect the rule’s purpose, without fear of doing what suits the designer’s individual purpose. Professional designers cannot be afraid to try something new in design, leaving tradition, or imagined rules behind. They break the rules, not for the sake of breaking them, but in order to create a progressive design. They push the envelope in order to deliver a finished product to their clients which cannot be dismissed or ignored.