Jens Oliver Meiert

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Web Design and Principles

Post from January 30, 2015 (↻ June 5, 2021), filed under and .

This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved ebook: On Web Development.

Web design has become complex. More people, more ideas, more use cases, more technical innovations, more design variations, &c. pp. More makes for more complex. The developers of us have already observed that with our standards.

But, there’s a life line helping us with this complexity, as well as trends. No, not differentiation. Principles. Web design principles.

There are principles for each sub field of web design: design itself with e.g. Fitt’s Law and Golden Ratio; typography with its traditions; usability with its conventions; accessibility with its heuristics; interaction design with its ground rules; web development with e.g. Don’t Repeat Yourself and Separation of Concerns; &c. pp.

Principles are a life line because they are simple (countering complexity) and don’t change that frequently (countering trends).

Centuries of typographic craft firmly root the designers and developers of content-rich websites, and our colleagues in usability and UX know the anchoring effect of principles, too: “A remarkable 80% of findings from the Web usability studies in the 1990s continue to hold today.” (Other people, like Jakob Nielsen, have more than once emphasized how little we change.)

Unfortunately, then, is this not a definite guide to web design principles (we should write one [edit: it seems Jeremy has just done that!]). It’s just a reminder that there are principles, and that they serve us, as web design experts and professionals, to counterweigh complexity and trends—and not be tossed around by them.

Many thanks to Daniela Strassberger for the inspiration for this post.

About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead—currently manager for Developer Experience at LivePerson—and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!

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Cover: The Web Development Glossary.

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