The most important principle of designing effective website is its usability.
To put it simply, refer to Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think.
Focus on your potential users who likely will use your website. Because whatever website that you're designing, be it company profile, e-commerce or another social media maybe, it will finally deliver to the users. Don't get trapped to the this popular image:
Before digging up deeper about usability, let's briefly talking about its terminology.
Then what is usability? Taken from the book, usability often breaking down into attributes like:
and recently even
If something is usable - whether it's a website, a remote control, or a revolving door - it means that a layman, an average person (or even below average) with their ability and experience can figure out how to use it to accomplish something easily.
Don't make your users think
Make your website self-evident or at least self-explanatory. When you're creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks.
Get rid of those potential question marks.
Get rid those potential question marks, by ...
Don't burden your creativity, but it's always better following conventions. Conventions are your friends to make your users don't think while using your website.
Why reinvent the wheel?
Design it for scanning, not reading
I just realize that people are using website by scanning, satisficing, and muddling through it. I think in silence, and then nodding.
Why are things always in the last place you look for them? Because you stop looking when you find them!
If you want to design effective website, always consider this three facts about how people use website:
Create effective visual hierarchies
Get the most of html heading tags. Use h6 after h5 after h4 after h3 after h2 after h1. Make sure your page title always "bold and clear". It's not just for your users, it's also for robots.
Make sure you have breadcrumbs on your navigation design. It's like "You're here" on a map, so your user will easily recognize their current position. If you don't know where are you right know, a map will useless.