Is Your Website Crap? Tips on Great Website Design

Apply Design Principles for Your Website

is your website crap?

That might be a good thing

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How to use simple website design basics to build a better site.

There are some basic principles to designing a great website. In real estate, we tend to think about things like the RETS or IDX feed, the “what’s my house worth” page, lead capture, and such. We want our sites to look great, be built for mobile-first, and to have great SEO.

These are important, but there’s a lot more to it. What I’m talking about today are the essential design principles. They apply whether you’re building a real estate website as an agent, you’re a coach or consultant, or you’re a tech startup serving the industry. In fact, they apply to any website, regardless of the purpose or the industry. They also apply to design for things that aren’t websites. Your property brochures, listing presentation or pitch decks, and social layouts. 


introducing the best acronym ever


Sounds bad.  But it’s not.  Totally the opposite.

CRAP stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity in design.  Start with a cohesive brand style and message, then apply great design basics.  You’ll end up with a site that’s professional, impactful, attractive, and balanced.


This is the difference between light and dark or it can be colors on opposite sides of the color wheel. It can also be very bold fonts paired with lighter ones, or big vs small. The stronger the contrast, the more impact it has. The easiest example is to think about shades of grey next to each other compared to black and white.  High contrast is best used for call-to-action buttons or sections where we want to draw the reader’s attention.  It’s about visually separating one thing from the rest of the site.


We repeat section layouts and change up content, repeat font styles, etc.  Call to action blocks are styled the same and repeated across the site. We aren’t duplicating the content. We’re keeping a cohesive style and using similar block styles throughout the site for similar types of content. This makes it much easier for the reader, instills meaning, and builds trust. All of these help to make the site easier to understand and will increase your site conversions.  As a reference, I use bright yellow for my callout blocks like the one below.  Buttons are the same styles and so are fonts, like the one I’m popping in below. 

not sure what your
brand personality is?


Think of it as a rhyme with a reason, but in linear form. The page width on all pages is the same. Your text alignment is consistent. For example, always justified left. It’s not just your side margins, but also how things align to the center of the site.  It’s also internal margins in your sections and blocks.  For example, I use a lot of left and right large blocks on my site, with  the center of the two always being the center of the page. It’s like there’s an invisible grid that everything is set within. Everything is visually connected to something else. Section and block padding and margins should be consistent. Things above align to things below, text block spacing is consistent and aligned the same, and so on.  Looking at the same callout block that I added for Reptition, I use spacing and padding to keep blocks aligned with the rest of the page and my content blocks.  


This is what goes by what.  It keep your website user-friendly and makes it easy for people to find what they need. The closer two things are to each other, the more the reader sees them as connected. The further they are apart, the more separate the concepts are. You’ve probably heard of “white space” in design and how important it is. It’s because of the proximity principle. It doesn’t have to be white, though. It’s breathing room around your most important call outs or headers. It’s keeping things that need to be connected close to each other. In general, the more white space (or black space, or whatever color) a site has, the more minimal and modern it feels. The less there is, the more traditional. Regardless, clear separation and smart grouping keeps a site easier to navigate.  It’s also easier for the reader to understand your messaging.

Building a great website based on design principles helps you stand out, and the same rules apply to your other branded assets. Think beyond just your brand style, header images, and content. Great design inspires action, helps you to be memorable, and ultimately will help you grow your business. 

The only time ever that I’ll tell you to aim for CRAP 🙂 

Need help building a new site or fixing your old one?  Let’s chat.