The challenge is to create an effective website that helps your visitors quickly find the information they’re looking for, whether it’s your company’s contact information, the latest blog post, customer support and more. So how do you keep up with the trends?
Effective Web Site Design: Basic Elements
When it comes to designing your site, there are a few basic design elements that make a website a more pleasant experience for your visitors. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your site:
1). Purpose: your site needs to work for the user — can your visitors find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily? Each page needs to have a clear focus that fits the needs or your site visitors.
2). Communication: clear communication is the goal here. Your site visitors want to find the information they need; they expect the information on your site to be laid out clearly, so it’s fast and easy to “digest.”
3). Colors: convey information and/or make your visitors feel a certain way. Your site’s color palette needs to be well-thought out and enhance the information you’d like visitors to view. Colors that are a lively draw the eye but can be overwhelming if used too much, while white space helps your visitors focus on the information, giving your site a clean, uncluttered look.
4). Navigation: how easy is it for visitors to get around your website? Things to keep in mind: use hierarchy to arrange the information on your site’s pages. Arrange the information on your site in a logical manner and use bread crumbs, clickable buttons, etc. to guide your visitors to information they need and to perform the actions they desire (for example joining a newsletter or making a purchase).
5). Mobile friendly: these days people have a wide variety of devices they can use to visit your site — everything from smart phones and tablets, to desktop computers. Having a responsive layout helps make your site easy visitors with any device to use your site.
These are some of the basics to keep in mind when it comes to effective website development. Next, we’ll take a look at several creative web trends to use sparingly.
8 Web Design Trends to Use Sparingly
What web development trends should you use sparingly or even avoid? As we saw above, the best sites are those that design with the user in mind. You want to keep your site useable, keep it uncluttered and easy to navigate.
With these goals in mind, here are some design trends you can use, but do so sparingly so your site visitors still enjoy the best experience possible:
1). Mobile-only sites
With mobile-only sites, you run the risk of running awry of Google’s search algorithms, which could mark your site as duplicate content. You’re also doubling your SEO and operations by having multiple websites per devide! You still want to make your site easy for visitors using mobile devices to access your site, so rather than having an entirely separate site, consider making your current site responsive. It’s easy now with WordPress web design
This has been a popular web development feature in recent years; however, it can cause problems for your visitors. A couple of issues with parallax scrolling:
• Slow down your site’s load time: that’s a problem when visitors want to quickly view your site.
• Confusion: it can also cause confusion when people are trying to navigate your site—information may seem to be presented in a haphazard manner, driving visitors from your site.
We’re not saying to avoid parallax entirely – a well placed parallax effect can look spectacular! – just don’t go too overboard.
There are a couple of big problems that flash can present (and it’s amazing that there’s still organisations using it):
• Not supported by mobile devices: according to Mobify, over 1.2 billion people are accessing the web from their mobile devices. By using flash, you’re keeping all of these people from visiting your site!
• Flash content is ignored by Google: as a result, you won’t derive any SEO value from flash implements.
• Can make your site load slower, which causes visitors to become annoyed and leave.
Animations are everywhere these days — they’ve fast become an effective, popular web site design trend. However, there are some things to keep in mind when using animation:
• Browsing errors: can be caused by animations: these include stall-outs, buggy behavior, etc.
• Can make browsers load slower—similar to flash issues.
• May get in the user’s way by slowing them down and making them frustrated.
• As well as being distracting, some animation behaviour can confuse visitors!
5). Hover effects
Similar to the above, hover effects can be a useful website development element; however, hover effects should be used sparingly. Avoid using hover effects to reveal important content, for primary triggers and actions (such as dropdown menus), etc. Hover can cause problems for mobile device users when they can’t use the effect on their mobile screens. Equally using hover effects to reveal important content is not widely accessible and leads to your message being lost.
Using shadows on too many of your site’s design elements can look amateurish. If used sparingly, shadows are great for adding depth, can improve the look of digital mock-ups, and can improve readability on busy backgrounds. When in doubt, opt for soft rather than hard shadows to create a more tasteful look — but avoid using them on everything!
7). Image sliders
Sliders used to be and still are a very popular design trend; however, these days they’re not always the best solution. Image sliders, also known as carousels, are slideshows of images. They can be confusing for site visitors, as these visitors may mistake them for ads. In addition, sliders may also be animated too fast or too slow, distract from featured content and more. Ensure slider navigation is intuitive, that the images you use for multiple slides are optimised and that you’ve got the animation speed at a pace that users can digest what they are seeing!
8). Splash pages
Splash pages are another design trend to either avoid or use sparingly on your site. The problems with splash pages are:
• They’re not search engine friendly, so you don’t derive much SEO value.
• Animation can be annoying or distracting for site visitors — they may even see these pages as pretentious.
• Visitors may feel forced to take some action as a result, those who don’t want to take that specific action may leave without viewing the valuable content they came to find in the first place.
We’ve taken a look at the basic elements of website development, along with 8 design trends to either avoid or use sparingly. The goal is to create a wonderful web experience for your site users. If you keep them in mind, you won’t go wrong — you’ll have a beautiful site that can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone! Also, you can learn more about us.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.