Web Design 12: Principles of Web Design


“Good typography is invisible. Bad typography is everywhere.” This is a famous piece by London-based designer Craig Ward. How does this apply to our course?

Not only does this concept apply to typography but also to many areas of visual art and design–including web design. We often notice poorly designed websites when we see them because they pop out; however, nicely designed websites often go unnoticed or are taken for granted. This phenomenon occurs partly because we rarely critically analyze web design.

Principles of web design are general rules for designing effective web-based media that includes guidelines for page layouts and user interaction. Understanding these principles will allow web designers to effectively communicate with their intended audience.

In this activity, we will review a few articles on the principles of web design and examine real-life websites that disregard these principles. Sometimes through non-examples do we see the importance of these rules. Following up on website reviews, we will create our own version of the “top 10” principles of web design and share them with the class.


  1. Search principles of web design and review at least three articles.
  2. Go to Web Pages That Suck and apply the principles of web design to determine why the nominated web pages–ahem–suck. Also, read the commentary that explains why these pages got nominated.
  3. With a partner, come up with your top 10 principles of design and share them on a Google document. For each principle,
    • provide a brief description followed by an explanation (1-3 sentences)
    • provide an example and/or a non-example (either hyperlink or image)
    • include a reference (hyperlink)
  4. Edit the wiki on web12.wikia.com to include your top principle of design that is not already on the wiki. The later you do this, the less selection you get.