Three Rules of Web Design

If you’ve made the decision to launch a new website, congratulations! You’ve done it! Now welcome to hell!

Alright, it’s not really that bad. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can actually be one of the most enjoyable (and fruitful) things you’ve ever done.

It all depends on whether you can navigate your way around the maze, whether you can tell the forest from the trees, whether you can keep your head above water and remember to breathe.

Here are three rules that’ll help you do just that.

RULE #1

If you’re at all like me, the biggest enemy you face is yourself. We have these defense mechanisms that keep us from doing what we need to. They can distract us, divert us, even blind us. Most importantly, they can cost us.

The best way to keep the defense mechanisms at bay is to never welcome them to the table in the first place. In web design, what that means is this:

Always address the WHO, WHAT, and WHY before the HOW.

(Read more about defense mechanisms and the first rule here and here.)

RULE #2

Since you’ve decided you want a website, you must have something you want to say or share.

Everybody knows they must define their message. Doing so isn’t easy, but it’s a given. What few people realize is that saying what you want your audience to hear ultimately isn’t enough.

The small (but incredibly important) distinction is this:

Concern yourself not with what YOU SAY, but with what PEOPLE HEAR.

RULE #3

The beautiful thing about websites (and the internet in general) is that you have a near-endless number of options to choose from.

The terrible thing about websites (and the internet in general) is that you have a near-endless number of options to choose from.

Imagine going to the World’s Largest Ice Cream Parlor, with hundreds of ice cream flavors and toppings to choose from. Personally, that sounds amazing. If such a place exists, let me know because I’ll do just about anything to reach it.

But you know what? If I was at the World’s Largest Ice Cream Parlor and was asked to create the best cup of ice cream I could possibly imagine, it would look a whole lot like the cup I get at Ben & Jerry’s, Cold Stone, and Dairy Queen. Because, for me, a cup of vanilla ice cream with brownies, chocolate chips, and hot fudge is about as good as it gets.

The world of web design is a lot like the World’s Largest Ice Cream Parlor, which is why rule I say to myself the most is this:

Keep it simple, stupid.