There are a lot of principles that create good web design. Here I’ve highlighted what I think are the five most important tools to effective design.
1. White Space
This may seem contrary to the small voice inside you that cautions you from “wasting” space. But more important than your agenda is the user’s dread of cognitive overload. In other words, keep it classy. Leave some room to make your ideas stand out and allow your audience to process and breathe.
To make your site user-friendly and professional as possible, make sure things like type, buttons, colors and navigation stay consistent. Global navigation should remain static to ensure usability.
Contrast is key, but make sure it’s easy on the eyes. If you’re using type, it has to be legible (that means no lime green text with a black background). If you need help with your color palette, check out one of the sites below:
4. Balance (grid)
Whether you are striving for asymmetrical, symmetrical or discordant balance to your site, it needs an intentional structure to put the user at ease. If you’re familiar with photography’s rule of thirds, borrow that idea for your layout. Both the rule of thirds and the golden ratio are concepts of balance that are based on a grid. Ideal placement is along the intersections of a superimposed grid that looks a lot like a tic-tac-toe board.
Remember that using and designing type is much different for web than for print. Here’s a good resource for typography.