Designing a new website, or redesigning an existing one, can be overwhelming. It’s not just the visual elements and overall website design you have to keep in mind, either; you need to keep your mind on SEO, mobile-friendliness, and even content.
My goal here is to give you the website design resources and knowledge you need to help you make these all important decisions.
Key Web Design Trends
Let’s begin with web design trends, because if you’re thinking about building a site, you should first take a peek at what’s already out there.
As you look around the web, you will notice a lot of sites appear quite similar. This has come about for a couple of reasons. Responsive design is partially responsible (we’ll come back to this topic), but WordPress and theme development have also contributed to this trend in a big way.
With a WordPress theme, users get a pre-formatted site that they can customize while keeping the same overall structure. So some sites might look similar because they use the same theme, but they feature different images, fonts, colors, and even widgets.
Then, of course, there’s the overall aesthetic of your site. Websites in 2016 today look much different than they did in 2006, or even 2012. Two major concepts that have a significant influence on web design are flat design and material design. Flat design came first — it’s a simplified, basic style. Material design is in some ways an evolution of flat design; it keeps the pared-down elements but uses depth and shadow to create more striking visuals.
Another trend is the abandonment of “above the fold” design. In the past, getting all the key information on that first part of the page, before anyone started scrolling, was absolutely crucial. Today, largely thanks to the rise of mobile, we are accustomed to long scrolling. Some websites even use an infinite scroll. You don’t have to feel pressure to get all of your information front and center so long as it is easy to find. In fact, many sites use “hero” images — big, dominant visuals that catch the eye, as a way to break up a long-scrolling page.
Animations are also more common now. This includes both background animations and videos, as well as small-scale visual elements that tie your site’s design together.
Card layouts, a concept introduced by Pinterest and widely adopted across the web, make it easy to present different information in chunks. These cards are square or rectangular in shape, making them easy to adjust for different platforms as well.
There’s always something new in design, and trends disappear or reappear with time. Keeping your site visually appealing is but one aspect of good design. The other is usability and utility. The bottom line is, the website visitor determines the usability of a website. A user will scan your site and home in on the first thing that seems to be what they are looking for. Forget a bunch of persuasive words or striking images — people want instant gratification, which means they want answers. Make your website easy to use. It should be self explanatory and not leave someone frustrated because they don’t understand how to navigate around. You or your designer might have a clever or cutesy idea, but resist the temptation and stick with what your users will recognize.
Deciding which platform to use for your website design can be a challenge, with so many options out there. I have said many times that I recommend WordPress (shameless plug I can help you design and build yours). It’s typically easy to maintain once you’ve mastered the basics, and it has a substantial number of plug-ins and widgets available to take your site to the next level.
Some of the big names that currently use WordPress on their own sites include TED, NBC Sports, CNN, TechCrunch and ABC Radio. But if joining the ranks of some major sites isn’t enough of a reason, check out these WordPress statistics and 3 reasons you need a custom WordPress design.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what your site might look like, are you ready to launch a shiny new website that impresses your visitors and pays the bills? There are so many decisions to make, and key steps that you shouldn’t overlook if you want to really define yourself and draw in traffic.
These WordPress stats will give you some of the information you need to make an effective decision about your website design journey.
When you are building a website, search engine optimization cannot be an afterthought. It should be at the top of mind while you build your web pages, from which keywords you are targeting to the overall layout of your site. You can design and build a beautiful website, but if you don’t take steps to help the search engines to find it, you will remain a secret. Remember the movie “Field of Dreams”? Well if you build a website, they won’t come — not unless you let them know where you are!
While it’s an imperfect science at best, SEO does involve some best practices you need to embrace. You need to start when you build the site, and then continue to make adjustments periodically. SEO is definitely not a “one and done” marketing strategy.
If you want to start learning the basics of SEO, here are some good resources to start:
Building a new website or rebuilding an existing one, choosing the right colors for your website design could be a challenge. This post offers some of the best tools for choosing your website colors. The right colors can make all the difference is whether your website resonates with your visitors or turns them off. Just one more important decision in website design.
Website typography is a critical component of good web design. It’s always been a prevalent factor in any design consideration – think back to old-fashioned movie advertisements and the big, garish lettering they used to use – but, with more people looking to the Internet for answers and services than ever, great typography can make or break a user’s impression of your service. This rings particularly true if yours is a new website, as established competitors can and will already have their own share of the market.
This post will share the 10 rules to consider before you make a choice on the typography for your new website design.
In 2008, Mary Meeker — an analyst at the venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers — predicted that mobile access would beat desktop access to the web by 2014.
The latest data shows that we are now well past the tipping point that she predicted. Mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher than desktop usage (51% compared to 42%). (via Smart Insights)
Many small businesses are now acknowledging that their website does not provide a good experience for visitors who are on a mobile device. And a fundamental rule of the Internet is, if a site doesn’t work, people will leave and find another that does.
There are two solutions to the challenge of going mobile: building or retooling a site with a responsive design, or building a separate mobile site. This article covers what you need to know about both — but the important takeaway is that you can’t overlook a mobile solution, whatever it is.
Not convinced? Check out these 5 reasons to go mobile.
Are you ready to make one of the most important decisions for your business? That may sound a little dramatic, but everything you do online will revolve around your website, which means you need to have a site that truly stands out. Contact me today to get help with ramping up your web presence and take your business to the next level.