There are several aspects of design that you will need to consider when creating your website. 

Interactive design

Interactive design focuses on how the user will interact with the screen and find their way around the site and to locate the information they want easily.

The user needs to feel at ease with your site very quickly. If you have a site where the user can't see what they are looking for, or understand the route they should take, they will go elsewhere.

Understanding your users

Visitors to your website will usually want to complete a specific task, eg read a report or find out how to contact you.

To help users easily complete these tasks you should include features like:

  • clear navigation menus
  • a clear structure 
  • a good search facility
  • a sitemap.

Homepage design

Your homepage needs to give a good first impression and the user should immediately know where they are and what information they will find there.

  • Provide prominent links on your homepage to the key content that your users will want to access.
  • Showcase your latest news and activities on your homepage (this keeps it fresh and interesting).
  • Avoid using a splash page as your homepage as they tend to annoy users.

Establishing consistency 

Keep your design consistent throughout your website. There should be consistency between different pages and sections of the site. Suddenly jumping to a different colour scheme or layout can be confusing, as the user has to relearn how to move around your site. Even if this only takes a few seconds, it is annoying for the user and not good practice.

Structuring information

There should be several layers in your site, each with an increasing depth of information. Users should be able to drill down into your site until they reach the level of detail that satisfies them. You should ensure that each section is clearly labelled and only holds content that users would logically look for in that section. 

Graphic design

Graphic design concentrates on the 'look and feel' of the site. Your site should portray a professional image that reflects your research interests and brand. Your website must use fonts and colours that are visually appealing and accessible.


If you are funded by ESRC, your website must adhere to our branding guidelines.

You should:
•    display the ESRC logo on your homepage and other main entry pages to your website.
•    use the correct version of the logo
•    ensure that the logo acts as a clickable link to the ESRC website.

If you use your own logo on your web pages it should act as a clickable link to your homepage.

Our preferred position for the ESRC logo is on the top left of the page, but this may vary depending on your site design.

For further details see the guidance on using our logo and branding or email

Fonts and colours

Your users need to be able to easily read your content. All users, including those with poor vision, colour blindness and dyslexia, need to be able to use your site.

You should:

  • use fonts that are easy to read on-screen, eg Arial or Verdana.
  • use consistent font styles across your website. 
  • use a few compatible, accessible and non-clashing colours.
  • contrast the colour of your fonts with the background colour of your pages; dark fonts on a light background tend to look best.
  • use colours that are subtle and co-ordinated. For users, the contrast between text and background is more important than the colour palette used.
  • use whitespace to give your site a neat look and feel and make it easier to see the important parts of the site.
  • choose a background that is a single, solid colour – avoid loud textures, patterns or images.
  • avoid gimmicky design like Flash introductions or animations. They may seem like a good idea but research shows they tend to annoy users.
  • use cascading style sheets (CSS) to control fonts and other styling across your site