Best Website Design Practices: The Ultimate Guide

Best Website Design Practices: The Ultimate Guide

Best Website Design Practices: The Ultimate Guide

3D illustration showing a website design screen
3D illustration showing a website design screen
3D illustration showing a website design screen





min read

min read

Jul 14, 2023

Jul 14, 2023


In this article, we discuss the most important and relevant aspects of website design, ensuring a frictionless user experience, effective navigation, and adherence to best practices and standards. It highlights the impact of a visually appealing layout, effective use of colors and typography, and mobile-first design. Additionally, it emphasizes creating intuitive menus, using CTA buttons strategically, and maintaining color harmony for an aesthetically pleasing interface.

You’ll also learn about coding best practices, such as ensuring mobile compatibility, prioritizing security, optimizing for search engines (SEO), and enhancing website performance. These practices help improve site rankings, attract more visitors, and provide a seamless user experience across devices.

Furthermore, you’ll find valuable insights into the importance of accessibility in web design, following the W3C accessibility standards to make content easily accessible and inclusive. This includes focusing on perceivability, operability, understandability, and robustness.

If you want to create a website that attracts visitors and makes them return again and again, simply keep reading this article to the last word. By implementing these best practices and standards, designers can create visually appealing, highly functional, and user-centric websites that cater to diverse audiences and stand out in the digital landscape.



Founder & CEO

handsome man smiling and talking into a microphone
handsome man smiling and talking into a microphone
handsome man smiling and talking into a microphone

In today's digital era, a company's online presence is essential for its success. Looking to create an appealing website that captivates your visitors and helps you thrive? Read on to learn the best website design practices so you can establish a compelling presence online.

It’ll be quite true to say, “If you can’t find it online, it hardly exists.” With almost three-quarters of businesses having a website and three new ones built every second, websites are the modern digital storefronts, showrooms, and business cards. Whether you build it yourself or you opt for a professional web design service, your site is a critical element of your brand image and identity. A well-crafted site enables businesses to showcase their offerings, engage with potential customers, and ultimately increase lead generation and conversion rates. While multiple factors contribute to an effective website, web design plays a critical role in attracting visitors, ensuring smooth navigation, and enhancing the overall user experience.

A thoughtfully designed website should be visually appealing and user-friendly and guide visitors effortlessly through the online platform. Elements such as high-quality images, easy-to-read fonts, and a clear menu bar are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating an exceptional website. This article deals with the best practices for website design, revealing valuable insights and proven strategies to optimize your digital presence and achieve your business goals.

Let’s get started by discussing the importance of web design best practices.

Why are Web Design Best Practices Vital?

Here’s the deal. When it comes to sites, consumers judge by the looks. This is particularly impressive if we consider the fact that visitors form an opinion of a website and make a decision of whether to stay or leave in just 0.05 seconds. This means implementing best practices in web design and creating a captivating visual identity is critical. Let’s discuss the most important reasons why you should take website design best practices seriously. 

Here’s the deal. When it comes to sites, consumers judge by the looks. This is particularly impressive if we consider the fact that visitors form an opinion of a website and make a decision of whether to stay or leave in just 0.05 seconds. This means implementing best practices in web design and creating a captivating visual identity is critical. Let’s discuss the most important reasons why you should take website design best practices seriously.  

  • Following best website design practices helps create a great first impression: In the digital realm, a website often serves as the initial point of contact with potential customers, making first impressions crucial. A well-designed website captivates visitors, encouraging them to explore and spend more time on the site, while a poorly designed one may deter users from engaging further.

  • Implementing website design best practices enables you to increase engagement and conversions: An exceptional website not only attracts visitors but also persuasively guides them through the conversion process. For e-commerce websites, an effective design can directly translate into increased conversions and paying customers.

  • Best website design practices ensure consistent branding: A website is a vital extension of your brand identity, which includes aspects such as logo, color schemes, and marketing language. A consistently designed website reinforces your brand image, strengthening its recognition and credibility in the market.

  • Web design best practices help improve your SEO rankings: SEO rankings are influenced by user engagement statistics, such as time spent on a site and bounce rates. A well-designed website that encourages users to explore and interact with multiple pages can positively impact your SEO ranking, increasing visibility and driving organic traffic.

  • You can outshine the competition: In a competitive landscape, the appearance and user-friendliness of your website can make a difference in winning over potential customers. If your competitors' websites are more visually appealing or easier to navigate, visitors may choose them over your business.

  • Following best website design practices lets you save from advertising: Investing in a thoughtfully designed website can serve as an effective promotional tool across various digital channels, such as social media and blogs. By creating a high-quality website once, you can leverage it repeatedly across different platforms, raising your company's profile and saving on marketing costs.

Having learned why you should implement best web design practices, you may be wondering how they are developed and established in the first place. Let’s look at the foundations of best practices in web design.

What Are the Standards Behind the Best Website Design Practices?

Except for the various design elements, you need to be aware of the three groups of web design standards that underlie the best practices we’ll discuss later in this article. 

Brand standards: Brand standards, also known as branding, style guides, or mood boards, encompass the visual elements that define a company's unique identity. These standards dictate the consistent use of colors, typography, and design elements specific to a business, ensuring that the website effectively reflects the brand's image and values.

Coding standards: Following coding standards is essential for developing a robust, functional, and maintainable website. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international organization responsible for web standards, provides guidelines for programming best practices. Following these standards ensures that your website performs optimally across various browsers and platforms, providing a seamless user experience.

Accessibility standards: Ensuring that your website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is not only a fundamental human right acknowledged by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities but also has positive implications for both sales and SEO. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides a comprehensive list of accessibility standards outlining best practices for designing an inclusive website. Accessibility principles provide for building perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (POUR) websites. Adhering to these guidelines makes your website more user-friendly, reaches a wider audience, and contributes to a more equitable digital landscape.

By incorporating these three key standards – brand, coding, and accessibility – into your website design practices, you can create a visually appealing, functional, and inclusive platform that effectively communicates your brand's identity and meets the needs of a diverse range of users.

Branding Web Design Best Practices

Branding plays a crucial role in web design, as it influences visitors' perceptions, establishes credibility, and attracts potential customers. In this section, we'll explore three essential steps to ensure consistent branding when designing a website.

Research Target Audiences

Understanding your target audience allows you to tailor your website's design properly and make the right decisions about elements, color scheme, layout, and much more. Consider the following approaches to gain insights into your audience:

  • Study your competitors: Analyze competitor websites and social media profiles to understand their branding strategies and content engagement.

  • Study your audience: Examine their psychographics, demographics, and location, including age, gender, location, interests, and lifestyle choices.

  • Get feedback from your current users and buyers: Engage with existing customers to gain insights into their preferences and strengthen your connection with the audience.

Create Your Color Palette

A strategic color scheme can emphasize important elements, shape visitors' perceptions, and encourage action. Brands with consistent color usage across marketing materials can improve brand recognition by up to 80%. Follow these best practices for creating an appealing color palette:

  • Study color theory: Understand the associations of specific colors, internalize color concepts, and explore various color themes (monochromatic, triadic, analogous, complementary) to find suitable combinations for your brand.

Different colored rectangles on white background

Build on color harmony: Create a visually appealing combination of colors using the color wheel as a guide. It involves several techniques:

  • Monochromatic: Uses tints, shades, and tones of one color (e.g., yellow-green)

  • Analogous: Combines adjacent hues (e.g., violet, blue-violet, blue, blue-green)

  • Complementary: Pairs opposite colors (e.g., blue and orange)

  • Split-complementary: Combines a color with two flanking its opposite (e.g., yellow-green, red, violet)

  • Triadic: Incorporates three evenly spaced colors (e.g., green, orange, violet)

  • Apply the 60/30/10 rule: Allocate 60% to a primary color, 30% to a secondary color, and 10% to an accent color that contrasts or complements the primary color. For long-scrolling sites, use complementary colors to distinguish sections.

  • Prioritize contrast: Utilize contrasting colors to enhance readability and accessibility.

  • Completely eliminate the color of the competition: Identify the brand colors of your competitors and make sure to exclude them from your color schemes. This way, you’ll be able to differentiate visually and build a unique brand image.

Let’s look at the design o the Atlassian website.

atlassian homepage hero section

It uses a monochromatic blue (corresponding to the company logo) with white as a secondary color and monochromatic purple as an accent color, which creates a consistent, simple, and harmonious color scheme letting the website title stand out. 

Go For Reader-Friendly Typography

Effective typography comprises font style, size, appearance, and structure. The right typography enhances aesthetics while optimizing user experience and accessibility. Here are some best practices to improve your site's typography:

  • Limit font styles: Using too many styles can make your site appear unprofessional. Stick to two compatible yet distinguishable font styles for consistency.

  • Choose web-safe fonts: These fonts render consistently across browsers and devices, ensuring readability and brand consistency. The most common examples are Arial, Times New Roman, and Helvetica.

  • Set proportional text sizes: Aim for a minimum text size of 16 pixels or 12 pt. Use online tools like Gridlover to experiment with text sizes and preview their appearance on your site.

  • Limit characters per line to 50-75: This prevents boredom and eye fatigue while reading lengthy content.

Take a look at the Nuova Digital typography, for example.

Nuova digital homepage section

The headline font selection creates a memorable impression and strongly differentiates the brand. The black background makes the text stand out and easy to read. So, by following the branding web design best practices above, you can create a visually appealing and cohesive website that effectively communicates your brand's identity and resonates with your target audience. 

Visual Hierarchy Best Practices in Web Design

Visual hierarchy is a critical aspect of web design that ensures essential elements of a webpage are effectively showcased. This section will discuss various factors to consider when creating a clear visual hierarchy, such as balance, composition, grouping, scale, patterns, whitespace, textures, and visuals.


Incorporating high-quality images and videos enhances your website's appeal and engages visitors. Consider the following best practices when adding visuals:

  • Incorporate a hero image to welcome your visitors, create a strong first impression and establish trust with your audience. These visuals usually come as a photo, video, carousel, image slider, animated, or static image. Whether you opt for a product, customer, founder, or non-contextual hero image, this is what visitors will see at the top of your webpage. 

Nuova Digital have built a hero slider presenting a images from their best projects to highlight the great quality they have on their work and give a great first impression to their visitor.

Nuova Digital homepage hero section

The Azure homepage features a customer photo to highlight their customer-centered approach.

azure homepage hero section

And the HubSpot homepage below features a product photo, which complements the title and demonstrates what the user gets.

hubspot homepage hero section
  • Pay attention to image formats to enhance your site's performance and user experience

  • Ensure images and videos are responsive and optimized for various screen sizes and devices

  • Be cautious with image sliders and carousels, maintaining simplicity and relevance and allowing users to control their flow


Composition refers to organizing website elements cohesively. A popular framework is the rule of thirds, which divides a design or photo into nine boxes using a grid. This rule helps align text, adjust objects, and arrange elements effectively. In some cases, like the Atlassian homepage above, the design is built on three vertical grids, allowing the correct alignment of the title and the visuals.


The proximity principle suggests that people perceive items close together as part of the same group. To group elements efficiently:

  • Combine grouping with whitespace to separate elements according to functionality

  • Use additional elements like borders and backgrounds as visual cues

The Adobe Creative Cloud tutorial page is organized in such a way that items are thematically grouped, with each group separated by making use of whitespace.

atlassian homepage


Achieving balance in web design involves distributing visual elements proportionately to create unity and visual appeal. In general, there are four types of balance, and they find their applications in website design practices as well:

Symmetrical balance: Arrange elements evenly across the page's centerline like on the Zero homepage below

xero homepage hero section

Asymmetrical balance: Balance is achieved by combining colors, textures, or manipulating perspective – see the following Paylocity example.

paylocity homepage hero section

Radial balance: With this type of balance, elements radiate from a fulcrum (or a common center), just like the sun rays or the ripples after tossing a stone in still water. Look at the Spline example below. 

creative playful homepage hero section

Mosaic balance, known also as crystallographic balance: Like in the example below, this layout resembles balanced chaos and generates a sense of motion and action, attracting attention with a modern, dynamic style

Netflix homepage hero section


The viewing patterns users typically use follow the shape of the letter F or Z when scanning content on a website. Designing your layout according to these patterns improves information flow and user experience. The Z pattern is suitable for pages with minimal verbal content, like the landing page below.

onesta homepage hero section

The F pattern, on the other hand, allows for scanning the content horizontally – from top left to top right, repeating it on the next lines down the screen. This pattern is more suitable for pages that are rich in text. In the following example, the important information is located at the top to achieve better engagement as the first thing visitors see. 

forbes homepage hero section


Using scale strategically can draw attention to crucial details. To leverage size differences effectively:

  • Limit the use of sizes to small, medium, and large for variety while maintaining a clear hierarchy. The rule of thumb is to use font size of up to 32 px for headings, between 18 and 22 px for subheadings, and between 14 and 16 px for body copy

  • Enlarge up to two key elements to highlight them


Whitespace, or empty space between elements, is used to break up the text, direct attention, and streamline the user experience. To utilize whitespace effectively:

  • Employ both micro and macro whitespace to improve readability and balance

  • Strike a balance with whitespace to avoid making the site look empty or cluttered


Textures add contrast, reinforce site structure, enhance readability, and define your brand's tone. When incorporating texture, consider the following practices:

  • Keep it simple to avoid overwhelming visitors

  • Define the texture's purpose, such as dividing sections or highlighting images

  • Ensure textures don't distract from or overshadow important information

In conclusion, visual hierarchy plays a vital role in web design by guiding users toward essential elements on a webpage. By carefully considering the factors discussed in this section, you can create an engaging, effective, and visually appealing website.

Navigation Best Practices for Web Design

Efficient website navigation is crucial for ensuring a seamless user experience and guiding visitors to the information they need. In this section, we will discuss some web design best practices for creating intuitive menus and strategically utilizing call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

Provide Easy Navigation Through Intuitive Menus

Designing a user-friendly menu is essential for helping visitors explore your site. Some popular menu styles include:

  • Horizontal Menu: Often found at the top of a webpage, this horizontal bar lists primary site sections such as "About," "Contact," and "Products." This layout is suitable for showcasing important content or specific categories, like in the example below.

Nuova digital menu

Vertical Sidebar Menu: Displayed as a sidebar, this menu type lists links to key pages. For instance, Arbor restaurant uses a scrollable vertical sidebar menu for information on the restaurant, menus, events, and booking options.

Arbor menu

Drop-Down Menu: Best for sites with numerous pages, drop-down menus reveal additional options when users click or hover over a category. Typically, retailers employ this approach to display various product categories without cluttering the page. However, you can find it on other websites, such as the Ahref site.

ahrefs menu

Hamburger Menu: This iconic three-line menu saves screen space on mobile devices and provides an intuitive navigation experience. Popular apps like Google Maps use this style.

google maps navigation

Make Strategic Use of CTA Buttons

CTAs encourage visitors to engage with your website, so it's important to position them prominently. Here are some tips for creating effective CTAs.

  • Use clear, actionable language such as "Get Started" or "Add to Cart."

  • Choose a contrasting color to make your CTA stand out.

  • Employ whitespace to guide visitors' eyes to the CTA.

  • Ensure CTAs are easily clickable, especially on mobile devices.

The Dropbox website offers a prime example of strategic CTA placement.

dropbox home page

The "Find your plan" and "Get started" buttons utilize color contrast to attract attention.

Add a Footer

A well-designed footer provides additional information and helps visitors navigate your site. Consider these best practices for creating an effective footer:

  • Use clear language to avoid confusion.

  • Maintain a simple, consistent design that matches your branding.

  • Organize content into categories for easy navigation.

  • Check for and fix broken links.

Here is a great example of a clear and well-organized footer with additional links to content not available on the main menu, such as the individual service pages. The footer also invites visitors to sign up for Nuova’s newsletter and follow them on social media.

Nuova digital footer section

Coding Best Practices for Website Design

After designing a visually appealing and well-structured site, it's essential to ensure your website is discoverable on search engines, secure, and performs efficiently. In this section, we'll discuss coding best practices to achieve these goals, focusing on SEO, mobile compatibility, security, and performance.

Ensure Mobile Compatibility

As almost 60% of organic traffic originates from mobile devices, it's vital to make your website mobile-friendly.

graph showing mobile first users rising

Image Source

Adopt a mobile-first approach by designing the mobile version before the desktop variant. This method simplifies transitioning to larger screens without removing elements or reworking the entire design. 

Key practices for designing mobile-friendly websites include:

  • Using intuitive menus

  • Prioritizing important content and making it easy to locate

  • Minimizing disruptive pop-ups

Prior to going live, test your site using tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test.

Guarantee Security

Website security is crucial for credibility and safeguarding against data and financial losses. To secure your website, obtain an SSL certificate to encrypt data transfers, protect login credentials with strong passwords and two-factor authentication, regularly scan your site for malware, and choose a secure web host that provides SSL certificates and server security features.

Code for SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) enhances site rankings on search engine results, attracting more visitors and increasing conversions. Improve your site's SEO by writing quality meta descriptions, adding alt texts to images, optimizing URL structures, and implementing coding standards that cater to search engines.


Since 53% of website visits are abandoned if loading takes more than 3 seconds, optimizing site performance is essential. Assess your site speed with tools like GTmetrix to identify and address issues. Let’s look at an example of a report generated.

website page showing website peformance

Image Source

Improve website performance by enabling browser caching, minifying code (removing any unnecessary lines from the code), and using a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver static content from the nearest server to site visitors.

By following these coding best practices, your website will be more easily discoverable, secure, and efficient, providing an enhanced user experience for your visitors.

Accessibility Best Website Design Practices

Web accessibility plays a crucial role in designing an inclusive and user-friendly website, enabling individuals with disabilities to navigate and access your content effortlessly. Adhering to the W3C accessibility standards and implementing appropriate features will enhance the user experience, attract more organic traffic, and improve your site's SEO. Let’s look at the individual POUR standards for ensuring accessibility.


Make sure that all users can perceive the information on your website, regardless of their sensory abilities. Incorporate alt texts for images, pay attention to color contrast, and utilize captions for multimedia content. These measures will make your content more comprehensible to users with visual or hearing impairments.


Design your website to be easily operable by all users, including those who rely on keyboard navigation or assistive technologies. Create keyboard-accessible links, use descriptive headings, and provide skip navigation links to facilitate smooth and efficient navigation for users with mobility impairments or those who cannot use a mouse.


Make your content and interface understandable to users with varying cognitive abilities. Use clear language, well-structured content, and meaningful labels for form fields and buttons. Additionally, provide clear instructions and feedback for interactive elements to help users complete actions successfully.


Develop a robust website that is compatible with a wide range of devices, browsers, and assistive technologies. Follow W3C accessibility standards and use semantic HTML elements to create a consistent experience for all users. Test your website using tools endorsed by the Web Accessibility Initiative to ensure it meets W3C's accessibility standards.

By incorporating these accessibility best practices, you will create a more inclusive and user-friendly website that caters to a diverse audience and promotes an equitable digital experience.

Evaluate the Website You Designed

At the final stage of your website design process, assess whether your site serves its intended purpose and offers easy scanning and navigation. Utilize online heatmaps, such as Zyro's AI heatmap, or quick usability testing tools like Maze to gain insights into user interactions and identify areas for improvement.

Put the Customer at the Center and Design Your Awesome Website to the Best Practices and Standards 

Creating a remarkable website requires focusing on the customer and following the best practices in web design. What’s the right way to go? Establish clear objectives, design visually appealing content, and ensure seamless navigation through intuitive menus and strategic use of CTA buttons. Emphasize color harmony for a visually pleasing design and adhere to coding best practices, including mobile compatibility, security, SEO, and performance optimization. Prioritize accessibility to create an inclusive and user-friendly website for all visitors, irrespective of their abilities.

By following these guidelines, you will create a website that is not only visually appealing but also offers an exceptional user experience, attracts more organic traffic, and boosts your SEO ranking. Make sure to evaluate your design using heatmaps, usability testing tools, and accessibility audits to ensure your website effectively serves its purpose and provides smooth navigation for all users. By adopting a customer-centric approach and adhering to best practices, you can design an outstanding website that distinguishes itself in the competitive digital landscape.

And if you find dealing with all these tasks and requirements overwhelming, particularly while managing all the complex processes and activities in your business, remember you can rely on the professional helping hand of NUOVA Digital’s web designers. Our mission is to take the specialized technical part off your shoulders and support your growth. Reach out to our experts and build the website that will speak and work for you.



Founder & CEO

handsome man smiling and talking into a microphone

Has worked both independently and leading design teams. With strong strategic thinking and experienced execution he is creating user interfaces that help businesses stay ahead and embrace constant digital change.

Has worked both independently and leading design teams. With strong strategic thinking and experienced execution he is creating user interfaces that help businesses stay ahead and embrace constant digital change.

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© 2024 NUOVA Digital. All rights reserved.

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© 2024 NUOVA Digital. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to our Digital Transformation

From new blog posts to exclusive offers, we've got you covered. Only valuable content that keeps you in the loop.

Nuova Digital is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

11 Reviews

See our resource platform

© 2024 NUOVA Digital. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to our

Digital Transformation

From new blog posts to exclusive offers, we've got you covered. Only valuable content that keeps you in the loop.

11 Reviews

Nuova Digital is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

See our resource platform