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Factors of a Clean Web Design

Clean and simple web designs becoming a trend now a days. This write up will cover the subject through a two-part discussion. First, we will talk about a few features that clean designs tend to have in common. Secondly, I will share some tricks and techniques that helps you to achieve a clean design.

Common Features of a Clean Web Design

Let us start by looking at some fundamental characteristics of clean web designs.

Solid Layout Structure of a Web Page

If you take a few minutes to browse websites that might fall into the "clean" category, I bet they all have one thing in common: a well-thought-out grid that the web designer is really putting to work.

For anyone not familiar with web designing using a grid, just imagine that each comp starts with an invisible structure of columns and rows, and that structure drives the scale and the placement of elements in the composition. This grid creates a sense of order by helping designers to establish hierarchy, rhythm and consistency.

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This Pixel Dreams website is designed in a grid using the popular 960 Grid System.

A solid grid layout structure gives the page an order and unity. For instance, Creative Reviews has several page layouts for certain types of content, Infact, the browsing experience is continuous because they shares the same underlying framework.

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When a website has a lot of content to display, such as an online magazine or a newspaper website, achieving a clean design aesthetic can be more difficult. But sites like The Guardian, a British newspaper, show that it is possible with a well-thought-out layout grid.

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If all the contents are plopped onto the page without a solid structure, the front page would definitely be a mess. However, by using grid as a starting point and relying on rules and white space to establish hierarchy, the robust content feels much far from overwhelming. Every pixel of margin and every rule in a page was tweaked until it was "just right," and all that effort resulted in a layout that feels effortless.

  • Good Typography

    It seems like good typography often centers around doing more with less, and when it comes to getting that "squeaky clean" feel in your webdesigns, restraint is key.

    When too many typefaces are used, they compete with one other, making a design appear to be disjointed and disorderly.

    If you do a quick survey of well-designed websites, you will probably find they rely on one or two typefaces, and then vary in size, case, color and weight to establish a clear typographic hierarchy.

    This approach creates a sense of consistency and refinement that can be seen on websites such as The New York Times and The Mavenist.

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    The New York Times

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    The Mavenist

    In both above shown examples, there are not more than two typefaces in the style sheets, yet the designers have established clear hierarchies in the page by using those typefaces to their fullest.

    A good typography is best displayed in the details. Leading, the spaces between lines of text, can help to make content easy to read and pleasing to the eye. When there is just enough space, the reader’s eye can easily return from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line. In website design, leading can be adjusted through the line-height CSS property.

    The optimal ratio of type size to leading often depends on the typeface, color and the width of text block.

    Additionally, the letter-spacing, the space between letters, can allow the letterforms to breathe a bit.

    Limited Color Palette

    In the print design, color is often limited by the necessity. The budget may allow for only a two-color poster, and so the designers are forced to work within those constraints.

    This is not the case with websites, though, since most modern computer monitors can display millions of colors.

    However, cleanly-designed websites seems to trend toward limited color palettes. From what I have seen, these websites often use core grays and one color. The color is earmarked for the most important elements like links and headers, a trick that not only enhances usability but also helps to visually unite elements throughout the website.

    A1 rolls in this direction, using a bluish green and gray color palette.

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    Meanwhile, the fine folks at Fuzzco take it all the way down to a single color: red,which is looking different.

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    Usually clean designs that successfully push beyond one- or two-color palettes often do so by using color sparingly and by using neutral colors to break things up. Solo is a great example for this.

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    Just like the connection between typeface and message, it is not all about picking colors that look good. Stronger designs incorporate palettes that set a visual tone which echoes the because of the nature of the website.

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    Does it bother you when the style of imagery photography, illustrations, charts, etc, shifts from one page to another throughout a website? Me too.

    Making sure these visually prominent elements are stylistically in harmony is a pretty powerful trick when it comes to creating a website with a clean appearance.

    For eg: IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign touched on dozens of topics. Throughout the related print and interactive materials, illustrations and charts that share geometrical frameworks, bold strokes and saturated colors helps to tie the campaign’s materials and topics together.

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    you can notice that even though the photography for the profiles comes out of different shoots, there is a carefully produced similarity across the images in terms of composition, depth of field and quality of light. Consistency across these often-prominent elements helps viewer Putting things on the web page is part of the design process. In my experience, one of the traps web designers can easily fall into when they set out to create something "simple" is becoming afraid to add anything to the page. The resulting web designs are usually pretty bland because the process did not allow for exploration (and those "happy design accidents" we all love).

    To avoid this problem, I find that it is helpful to "start complex, then simplify the process."

    During the early phases of the design, do not limit what you put on the web page. Explore different layers of page content and try out different design elements. Then, once that web design feels like it could be close to complete, start to simplify.

    Ask yourself that, "what doesn’t really need to be here?" If dropping a design element like a rule or texture, it seems to make the web page fall apart, keep it around. But, if that is not the case, ditch it.inciple" title="Pareto principle - en.wikipedia.org">20% ends up doing 80% of the work. onb We are just applying that theory to design by identifying the elements that are doing the heavy lifting in our layouts.

    It may even be worth bringing in someone who is more detached from the design for an outside opinion on what should stay and what should go. If you can not give a more solid defense for why something should be on the page other than "it is cool" or "they do it on this other site," then remove it.

    Ultimately, you will be left with the ingredients that will give you the strongest design. Once you get there, a little bit of fine-tuning leaves you with a strong, uncluttered design.

    Tweak, and Tweak Some More

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    Many people tells like, I tend to "beat my webpage designs into submission.I usually takes this statement as a compliment.

    For me, a webdesign is never really "finished" and can always be pushed further. As we explored earlier, that "clean" feel of a page is the product of all the aspects of the design — composition, hierarchy, palette and typography — working together harmoniously. If you are like me, making that happen means a lot of time spent tweaking: adding a point of line-spacing here, and removing 2px of margin there, trying #ddd instead of #eee for the dotted rules, etc. These may seems like inconsequential adjustments, but when it comes to getting all the elements in a composition to work together, even a single pixel can make a big difference.

    Making something look like clean and cohesive is a process that takes time and persistence and, generally, a lot of coffee. if you going to stick with it, all the details will eventually fall into place and the design will become cohesive.


    Whether you are a designer well-versed in the creation of "clean" design or looking to move in that direction, respect for imagination followed by an attention to detail will go a long way. Of course, each designer has moments of magic to do throughout his or her individual professional life.