Web Design Theory Tutorial: Must Know Principles And Best Practices

web design theory practices

When you learn the principles behind web design theory, you develop a third eye for ‘good’ web design.

In this quick online tutorial, you will uncover 10 must-know web design theory principles that we believe will help you heighten your design intellect. Enjoy!

The Gestalt Principle

Think overall design first, then focus on smaller details. As the Gestalt principle goes, the overall structural shape of your web design determines its success and visual appeal. Defined as the essence or shape of an entity’s complete form, this principle is seen as one of the most important in the design process; setting the foundation for how a designer intends to communicate a website with the target audience.

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is one of the most important principles of web design theory. Designers use it to arrange certain elements of a webpage. It’s a method that helps direct the human eye to what is important. A great way web designers arrange a website’s informational pyramid is to designate information according to size, color, and font — this includes hyper link conditioning.

The Golden Ratio

Many mathematicians, architects, and artists believe the Golden Ratio (the golden rectangle) when applied triggers a feeling of balance and harmony in humans. Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador DalĂ­, and even mother nature all have used the golden ratio in their ‘designs.’ Many web designers today continue to apply the golden ratio: it’s a great way to balance the composition of a website with other web elements.

Color Theory

A well-designed site will have an effective color scheme. Color theory helps designers differentiate websites from the competition. It also helps websites leverage the effect color may have on users. Choosing the right color for ‘calls-to-action’ can make a difference between selling a couple hundred of products to hundreds of thousands of products.

Visual Direction

Visual direction helps a web designer control user eye movement. When you understand web design theory, you’ll understand web page heat maps; giving you an educated guess on where to highlight the most important information on your webpage. Pictures, colors, and graphics to just name a few, all can be planned out to help draw attention to particular calls-to-action.

F-Pattern Layout

The F-Pattern layout helps apply the classic left to right reading style onto web design. Scientific studies have shown Internet users naturally scan web pages in an F-Pattern. Many designers implement this design theory while planning out the visual structure of a website.


The Z-Layout might not work for all websites, but it’s a good point of reference when deciding on a layout plan. The idea is to design a site superimposed with the letter Z, where your web audience is guided through a Z path from the leading point at the top left of the page to the bottom right. The Z-Layout is known to cover 4 big principles of web design: branding, hierarchy, structure and a call-to-action.


A good grasp of web design fundamentals is key to creating a seamless website. Unity is what ties a whole site into one nice package; helping the elements on a site connect smoothly from one element to another, ensuring fluidity and better overall design.


Less is often more, especially in web design. A clean, simple and minimal design are all you need to effectively reach your audience. But before jumping in, you will need to develop a clear vision of the site’s purpose straight from the get-go; enabling you to avoid unnecessary clutter and information in your design. Being precise and consistent now will result in a stronger website later.

Responsive Design

From tablets to smartphones to desktops to smart watches, web access has been segmented across insurmountable levels. With the wide variety of devices out there for you consider, a designer must understand how to deliver a consistent design experience across various devices: a user should never be left wondering what to do next. You will need to tap into progressive disclosure as well: a way of thinking web designers apply; offering just enough information, leaving a user wanting more yet satisfied. We recommend for you to build different wire frames for particular devices; focusing on different breakpoints. A user’s overall experience on mobile devices should be the same as a desktop experience; meaning, images should be adaptive and flexible, content should be essential and more.


And there you have it friends, 10 web design theory principles that will help you be better designers. For more on web design theory please feel free to visit our training page. If you think we missed some key principles, please let us know in the comments below!

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