Seven Design Principles to Live By

Design principles that must be followed

Good design is all about grasping attention, maintaining interest and passing on a message to the desired audience. There are some common principles that you can apply in all aspects of design including web design, graphic design, and print media.

There are thousands of web designers, however very few get success. Most web designs do not achieve the usability it deserves.

The best designs have some qualities in common that are listed in this article. Hope this will make you a better and focused designer.


When it comes to web designing, usability will determine your success. The visual design has got a lot to do with it, but a user-centered approach in design is the required standard for a profitable website design. If the user cannot use a feature, then it does not need to be there. 

The person who clicks on the page and uses its features is the person who decides everything, so the designer has to ensure that they can navigate through the page and access all the necessary features.

You may also want to look at some of inspirational sites with amazing usability.

Think like a user

Understanding the user’s approach to the content is necessary to come up with brilliant designs that have a great impact. Whenever a user looks at a new page, they often scan through the text and click on the links that catch their interest. 

Some parts of the page they will not even look at. The same applies in print media; people often skim through the text and only pick out the words that interest them such as new products, sales or discounts. Whenever you are coming up with a design, you need to get into the mind of your audience: what are they looking for and how can you make it easier for them to find it? You can implement different color schemes or typography to make some text stand out.

Be obvious & keep it Simple

Keeping it simple should be your primary goal when it comes to design. Your design should be obvious and self-explanatory, and with good graphic design, you can achieve this without using text. Navigation through your page should be intuitive in order for users to understand how the system works. 

You should use visual clues that guide the user down the page to eliminate cognitive load and any question marks. Websites that address a wider demographic of users such as social media sites best portray this principle. Most can be used by children as young as 11 years and seniors as old as 70 years.

Don’t test your audience’s patience

This design principle is crucial for website designing. Almost every day a new user will come across a website and the user requirements will determine whether they will stay on the page or navigate to another one. One of the greatest challenges about dealing with internet users is they have little patience and many options. 

If a new visitor is willing to try out the website, they should not have to go through long web forms to open an account. You should avoid making users share private data before they can get a feel of what the website is about. If they have to fill in a signup form, keep it short and allow them to come back and complete the form later once they have perused the site.

Focus attention & add tracking

Some aspects of design are catchier than others. Images will get instant attention as compared to the text; bolded words are more eye-catching as compared to plain text and so on. If you want to drive action to a URL or link, make sure it stands out. 

Making your focal point trackable is always critical to understanding the ROI and effectiveness of your ads. Adding URLs to print ads or UTM tagging to online ads are important to identify what’s working or not. Then make sure your tracking and sharing progress within your team via shared spreadsheets or free online tools. If some ads aren’t working to drive conversions, you know something needs to be changed.

Effective writing

When it comes to print advertising, you need to adjust the writing style to match consumer habits. Avoid long text blogs and exaggerated writing. Customers are more interested in short sentence paragraphs with bolded or italicized words that make it easier to skim through. Using multiple headings and bulleted points makes it easier for the reader to scan through the text, and if they think it contains the kind of information they are looking for, they will probably take a better read.

Test and Share Results with Your Team for Feedback

You should test your design early and test it often as opinions change over time. Testing your design project involves finding a small group of people that match your targeted demographic to give you feedback on what you can expect from potential consumers. There are many free online tools that users can use for user testing such as or 

Once you have the results from your test its critical to then share them with your team using simple tools like a Google doc. Let others on your team understand the issues potential customers are having and get them to help you brainstorm ideas on how you can make your designs more effective.

Hopefully your following many of these seven design principles already but if not, you know what you need to do to get to better designs.

VinodJethwani is the CEO and Founder of Walnut Solutions and he helps web based companies with his SEO strategies to grown their revenue. He started his career in 2007 as a software developer with an Indian based MNC and later in 2011 became an entrepreneur. Follow him on Twitter @VinodJethwani.

  • Updated On June 2019: Fixed Broken links and updated minor typos.

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