Thursday, January 24, 2013

Design Is In The Details

Want to take your website design from good to great? Sweet! (I thought so!) Now go grab a magnifying glass and take a close look at some of your favorite websites. Chances are the things that make a site great are all those little details that you might not notice at first glance. Use these 10 design tips help you take your site to the next level!

Break The Plane: Think Outside The Box

Web design can get boxy with all this div div div business going on. One way to add interest is to make a visual element appear to extend outside a box or region of the page. Apple does this on the iPod classic section of their website.

Go Organic

Another way to break out of the boxyness of web design is to integrate some organic elements into your site design. Organic (the design firm) does a good job of integrating rounded shapes into a grid based design.

Add Dimension: Make it Pop!

Lets face it – flat design is boring! You can easily add dimension to your site by using gradients and contrasting lines. Envato does a good job of adding dimension to their sites without going overboard. They utilize 1px contrast lines and subtle gradients to make things pop.

Emphasis & Hierarchy: Make The Logo Headlines Bigger!

Hierarchy and emphasis demand attention and direct users to content. Your header tags should be sized according to importance. Huge Inc does a great job of adding emphasis and re-enforcing hierarchy within their site. Your eye immediately goes to the huge headline BOO-YAH text at the top of the page.

Make It Bleed!

The concept of a bleed is carried over from print design and simply means to make the image extend to the edge of the page or border in our case.  Bleeds give a sense of dimension and add visual interest.  Apple does a great job of this on their ipod section of their website.

Use A Grid

Using a grid adds order and structure to your design. A grid does not necessarily have to be a visible design element, although it is nice to see the bones of a website sometimes. Arc90′s site has a grid structure that is neat, clean, and organized.

Background Images

Having a great background image for your site is something that will add visual intrest, but not distract from the main content. The Styleshout Urban Artist template has a nice subtle wood background that adds color and contrast, but does not distract from the content.

Make It Move!

Since the web is a dynamic medium we might as well take advantage of it! Subtle animation is a great way to add impact to a website without being obnoxious. There are several java script libraries that make it easy to add simple animation to a website. CSS Tricks has some nice subtle jquery color fading going on in the navigation.


Branding should not be limited to the logo on your website. Your brand should influence your typography, image, and design choices. Pattern Tap does a great job of extending their brand by repeating an element of their logo in the category image thumbnails.

Icons, Icon, Icons

Icons are a great way to attract attention and to inform your visitors on what they are about to click on. External link icons, or icons for specific file types (.pdf .doc .xls ) are a good way to cue your visitors in on what they are about to get themselves into.

Wrapping it all up

Need some more tips? Check out these other great resources and articles to help you continue to improve your designs:

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