How your website looks and how it performs are two different things. Your site can look visually appealing but give users a poor experience. Your site can also look dreadful but perform surprisingly well. Of course, you need some balance, as most people won’t trust a horrific looking site enough to shop on it. But, if your site is all looks and no game, the same people probably won’t return.

Knowing how important an aesthetically pleasing and well-functioning site is, here are eight web designs principles to pay attention to.

1. Follow Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy gives users a sense of direction when they visit your website. Within seconds, they can determine the usefulness of your product or service, how to use it, and why they should care. With proper hierarchy, visitors know where to go next, what they need to do, and why it’s important.

2. Let Your Design Breathe

White space is breathable space. It gives your content a chance to breathe and users a chance to pause and enjoy your content. It can be tempting to cram all important information above the fold, but avoid doing so. Otherwise, it complicates the design and distracts visitors from what you want them to do.

3. Let the User Journey Lead the Way

Your website should be designed around the user’s journey. If you do this effectively, visitors won’t get lost or frustrated when visiting your site. They’ll be able to find exactly what they came for in as few clicks as possible. To make your navigation easy, clearly divide categories, make navigational elements clickable, and include ALT text on clickable images.

4. Strive for Consistency

Consistency leads to good UX. Your entire site should be consistent in terms of color, layout, font, and more. No matter which page a person is on, they should be reminded that they are on the same website and part of a cohesive experience.

5. Choose a Responsive Design

More and more people use their mobile devices to browse the internet. Your website should be responsive – not just accessible on mobile phones. Don’t automatically trust the template you choose, either. Test your website using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to make sure it works well across browsers.

6. Be Honest – and Build Trust

Part of providing a good experience is showing customers exactly what they can get for the price. So, don’t mislead people with unrealistic expectations, even if makes your company look better. Be honest and upfront about pricing, awards you’ve won, and more.

7. Test Your Site

There are always going to be things you’re doing right and doing wrong. Fortunately, split testing your site allows you to identify your shortcomings and fix them. Test your site on a regular basis to ensure that people are actually engaging with it. This will help you deliver information that your customers are really looking for.

8. Keep Design Elements Simple

Finally, keep your design elements simple and streamlined, just the way users like it. Use color, but don’t overdo it. Usually three colors are enough to achieve perfect harmony, providing that they contrast each other. The same is true for fonts. Keep it balanced with several different fonts – one for the content, one for the headlines and so forth.

Your website should always look its best, but it still has a job to do. Make sure that you test your site and follow the tips above to ensure you’re offering the best web experience possible.