3 Ways to Clean up Your Designs
As discussed in Clarity Over Clutter, customers do not respond well to clutter. However, a page shouldn’t be boring either. Where is the happy medium? What does a “clean” design actually look like? A clean design is one in which the viewer absorbs the information presented with the least conscious effort possible. Here are 3 ideas for cleaning up your disorderly design, without reducing it to snooze-ville!
Alignment is a feature that is easy to overlook, but it may be one of the easiest ways to clean up a design. Making sure that text, images, or links are aligned in a logical way will make your design look more professional. There are two types of alignment: center and edge. Center alignment organizes according to the center axis, which more often than not, will look pretty awkward. It works best when working with a few lines of text or when incorporating images, anything longer will be difficult to read. Edge alignment, also known colloquially as flush left, flush right, or justified alignment, is preferred to center alignment for aesthetic reasons. As the name suggests, edge alignment organizes items according to the edge or margins.
Flush left is the strongest alignment choice, as it follows the natural flow of the eyes from left-to-right. It’s a natural choice when designing an ad or page that will contain paragraphs of text. Though traditional and somewhat conservative, there is no limit to what can be designed using flush left.
Flush right aligns text with the right edge of the page. Because of it’s unnatural flow, requiring the viewer to look at the right side instead of the left, it is a less common choice for ads. It is common however, in languages that read right-to-left. If using a flush right alignment, it is advised not to use it in conjunction with lengthy paragraphs, for it will leave the left edge ragged.
Leaving the edge ragged is a copywriting term that refers to the formatting of text on a page. A clean edge of alignment on the left will leave a ragged opposing edge on the right. For example, in this paragraph, because it is flush left, the left side is aligned perfectly, but the right edge of this paragraph is “ragged”. Not many people notice the ragged edges, but if you wanted a clean design with both sides aligned, then you would choose to have your paragraphs justified, so both sides of the paragraph are anchored by their associated edges.
People learn best by being shown and not told. One way designers do this with copy is through a typographical hierarchy of importance. Every site needs a clear hierarchy to tell the viewer where to start reading and where to stop. This concept follows the logic that consumers do not respond well to being overwhelmed by graphics that tell them what to do—no arrows or banner ads or pop-ups or zip-lining animated bears necessary. Sometimes all you need is neatly stacked typography, varying in size, color, or boldness, to help the consumer logically flow from one idea to the next.
3. Less Is More
If you don’t take anything else away from this blog article, please take away that you CAN take things away from an overly-complex design! Adding fluff makes the user’s brain work harder than necessary as they try to decipher what the individual elements mean. Bullets, boxes, lines, and other visuals without purpose do nothing but add clutter. Breaking designs down to the minimum will draw the eye naturally to where you want consumers to look. Alignment and hierarchy provide users with logic systems for figuring out how to assess the importance of information, but these alone are not enough.
Adding white space is one way to keep things simple. White space, sometimes called negative space, is a turn-of-phrase meaning the space between design elements. Right now, the white space is the space between these paragraphs. White space does not have to be white, however, it can be blue or burgundy or anything, but it has to be a space not filled by any text or visual.
Keeping your website pared down to the bare requirements is a practical way to keep things simple, focused, and easily communicable. Making just one important feature the focal point—your Unique Value Proposition, for example—will give design appeal without boring consumers. Writing down the content that you absolutely need is a great starting point. Sometimes what’s trending is simply that, a trend, and it doesn’t necessarily mean extra clicks will follow. The best way to stay current is to think of creative ways to stay practical.
Responsive Web Design (RWD)
A helpful side-effect of the “less is more” philosophy is better conversion to mobile or tablet. Minimalist designers have been greasing their gears with simplified designs for years, as these are the most responsive layouts to a user’s screen resolution. Creating a design that is flexible enough to fit across any screen resolution is no easy task, but with a simplified, responsive web design, your design is more likely to remain attractive and recognizable to your brand across many platforms.
Another unintentional side-effect of a minimal site is that it requires less maintenance. Because there are fewer moving parts, a minimal design is easy to maintain, easy to repair, requires less space on your server, and is more likely to load quickly. According to kissmetrics, 47% percent of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. Keeping this in mind, a site that loads quickly is as important to getting customers to your site as the site design itself.
At Creative Juice, our designers understand the importance of a sleek and practical design. Beauty and brains, who says you can’t have it all? Contact a Juicer with a list of your bare necessities and we can get you started with a sleek design.