Design | 10 min read

Butter’s Six Fundamental Principles of a Successful Web Design

A successful website is not only visually appealing but also practical. Lack of functionality or usability can impart unfavourable outcomes to your website. Focus on every aspect that influences your customer’s perception, such as purpose, simplicity, navigation, load time, mobile-friendliness, and usability. Keep in mind that the best websites brilliantly mix practical features with design.
Dhanishta Sadhwani
By Dhanishta Sadhwani
January 20, 2021
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Imagine you’re attending a play.

You went inside the theatre, hoping to get blown away by the most celebrated actors in the business.

Unfortunately, everything’s a mess.

Missing props.

Tacky costumes.

Light and sound effects are just plain horrible.

Not to mention the lack of ushers and clear seat numbers to guide people to their seats.

While the performance of the cast is stellar, the whole play is nothing but disappointing. So you head out the door before it’s over.

Same concept applies to web design.

What goes behind-the-scenes matters.

It’s the reason responsive web design is a huge deal these days. You don’t see it, but you experience its benefits as it strengthens your website in more ways than one.

Web design is not only about style and trends. You could pick out the most optically appealing designs, but without focusing on the functional aspects, your visitors will bolt.

There are plenty of factors that affect your audience’s perception of your website. You don’t want to just win them over with design; you also want to have the ability to drive them to take action while establishing rapport through an excellent user experience.

How do you do just that?

There are plenty of moving parts in web design, and in this article, we’ll share with you six of Butter’s six web design principles that you can focus on, apart from aesthetics. Bear in mind that each aspect that affects the overall user experience contributes significantly to your website’s success.

Check out our Website Design Hong Kong services page.


1. Purpose

Let’s look at purpose as the director of the play. Without this individual, there’s no course to follow. And since no one calls the shots, everyone will do their own thing. This can leave the audience baffled. They are likely to miss the primary gist of the story through all the disorderliness.

Having a clear intention for your website sets the tone for what you want it to achieve. Craft a mission statement to establish your intent. From it, you can devise a design and content plan that support the direction of your business. Select elements that tie back to your purpose.

Also, ensure that your website solves for your visitors by keeping their needs top-of-mind. Take time to determine your target market, identify their pain points in every step of their buyer’s journey, and provide more value to your customers than your competitors. This is the key step in strengthening your site’s purpose.

As a core web design principle, your purpose prevents you from confusing your audience. This stability and consistency solidifies your position as a thought leader or an expert of the industry you’re in. If you want to achieve this for your website, making things up as you go along shouldn’t be the path to follow.


2. Simplicity

It can be really overwhelming for the audience when there are so many things happening on-stage, right?

The same idea applies to an over-designed website. Too many details can cause too much distraction for your web visitors, which can veer them off from your site’s purpose.

Unfortunately, simplicity is one of the key principles of web design that’s most overlooked.

Clean isn’t plain. White spaces are not something to be afraid of. There’s nothing more appealing than navigating through a website seamlessly while also being able to clearly understand the primary intention behind it.

Many website owners want to include as many elements as possible in the hopes of attracting more customers, but they don’t understand that doing so increases noise on their website. Unnecessary details clutter the space and slow down the page load, resulting in unfortunate consequences in user experience.

Simple web design guides your users to where and what they need, according to their journey — without delays and frustrations.


3. Ease of Navigation

One other critical web design principle that helps users find what they’re looking for is a good sense of navigation. If you want to make it easier for your viewers to access content, you make sure they can get to it within just three clicks.

According to a Small Biz Trends survey in 2019, 94% of the participants considered easy navigation as the most useful web design principle.

To understand why, let’s go back to our play analogy:

Seat labels or ushers in a theatre seem like trivial details, right?

But with their absence, theatre-goers won’t find their seats in time for the show. In fact, they’ll be too busy finding where to go, they won’t even have time to watch, let alone focus on the play.

Don’t give your web visitors a hard time with tons of internal links and countless buttons and drop-downs. Create a visual hierarchy for ease of navigation and prioritise consistency to ensure a superior experience. Provide a clear menu structure to serve as a clear map.

Moreover, do not play around with deep navigation. Your visitors should have no problem going from one page to another.


4. Load Time

A lengthy loading time can test anyone’s patience.

Just imagine being in a queue for almost an hour before getting into the theatre, topped off with a 30-minute delay before the play starts. If you hadn’t paid for the ticket, you would have skedaddled away as soon as you caught a glimpse of the long line of people, right?

Unfortunately, your website visitors won’t need to invest in anything to see your website, so you won’t have a hold on them. No ticket means they aren’t compelled to stick around for your website to load. They’ll leave your site if it takes three seconds or more for them to see what’s on it.

Another thing you should be aware of is that slow websites inhibit conversions.

Unlike watching a play, your visitors won’t endure the waiting time and complain about the experience afterwards. There also won’t be a saving grace or a second chance to earn their goodwill. Therefore, it’s more crucial to create a favourable first impression before laying out your products or services to them.

For a fast page load, shoot for two seconds or less. But how, exactly?

Images have been considered the top impediment in making web pages adaptable and scalable. According to Google, they take up more than 60% of the bytes necessary to load a page.

But you shouldn’t remove them altogether just to improve load times. According to a comprehensive study of Hong Kong Consumer Attitudes, Business Practices, and Legal protection, Hong Kong shoppers visit e-commerce websites to view product displays before taking action. However, the lack of images and other necessary information can prevent them from making a purchase.

What you can do to reduce page load time is to use responsive images on your website. By doing so, you not only guarantee your web pages load efficiently, but you also improve the quality of images on them.

Other ways to speed up your website by minimizing HTTP requests, combining your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, lowering the number of redirects, and reducing server response time.


5. Mobile Friendly

Ninety-seven per cent of Hong Kong internet users utilize mobile phones to browse online.

Therefore, it’s important to create a responsive layout for your website that readily adapts to different screen sizes and browser windows. It makes for an excellent user experience and favourable brand perception. Both of which are instrumental in increasing your website’s conversion rate and having more repeat customers.

Moreover, a responsive web design shows how much you value your potential and existing customers by indulging their needs.

There are plenty of best practices you can implement to transform your website into a more responsive design, such as media queries, responsive images, and flexible grids.

(Here’s a more in-depth discussion about responsive web design featuring examples of mobile-friendly websites.)

Seeing as how it also helps you cater to a huge chunk of the country’s market, it’s safe to say that keeping your website mobile friendly is an essential principle in web design Hong Kong.


6. Usability

Web usability is a crucial web design element that can distinguish your website from your competitors.

Surprisingly, this principle requires you to rely on web design conventions and your instincts as a fellow online browser. Why?

People prefer navigating through a traditionally built website rather than one that requires a manual just to get around. Focus on making your design entirely intuitive to improve web usability. This translates to every detail on your site, such as buttons and forms too.

To generate long-term positive experiences for your users and learn more about web usability, you should understand the three main facets of usability.

  • Effectiveness. This determines how your users can carry out their desired action with a high level of accuracy. This won’t be dependent on them, but entirely on the amount of support you can provide them.
  • Efficiency. This has more to do with speed than accuracy. How fast can your web visitors complete an action and achieve their objective? Of course, the easier and quicker, the better.
  • Satisfaction. Are your viewers engaged? This can be an indication that they’re happy with your website. Not only does it mean they’ll come back for more, but there’s a huge chance they’ll recommend your business to a friend. Using our theatre analogy, it’s like delivering a riveting and emotionally-moving story to the showgoers.

So, there you have it - Butter’s six fundamental principles of web design. Before concerning yourself with the aesthetics side of things, keep an eye out on practical features first. The last thing you want is for all your hard work to go to waste due to a lack of a foundation. Your website needs to be practical and unyielding to support the other elements you throw into the mix.

Digital Butter has been part of Hong Kong’s web design industry for years. If you’re wondering how we can integrate these six critical web design principles into your website, drop us a line here.

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Dhanishta Sadhwani
By Dhanishta Sadhwani
Digital Producer
Dhanishta graduated from the University of British Columbia in Canada with a degree in Visual Arts and Economics. She joined Butter as part of the Graduate Programme as our first Digital Producer and recently was promoted to Digital Strategist. With a background in graphic design, she is passionate about designing to solve problems and producing beautiful things with great functionality. She works closely with the design and strategy teams in providing solutions for our clients and managing tasks across the company. Dhanishta specialises in using her expertise towards guiding UI/UX design particularly with a focus on user-centric e-commerce projects.
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