There is no one answer to what makes a great site, but attractive, clean yet functional and purposive design is the key to a successful and effective one. Achieving all of these things simultaneously is not as straight forward as many people think, and maintaining them is even harder. As web design is constantly expanding and evolving and consumer tastes subject to constant change, it is important to keep up with the trends and pay attention to visitor feedback. Here are some essential web design tips for 2014.
Nothing will make people reach for the close tab button more than a cluttered, overdone website. Ranked as one of the major web design trends for 2014 by the highly acclaimed Forbes, simplicity and clean design is all the rage, and it looks set to continue to soar in popularity as the year progresses. Contrary to what some may think, keeping things simple and clean does not necessarily equate to bland, plain or boring design, and minimalism is a complex art form in itself. Your website can be enthralling and aesthetically pleasing in its simplicity, and you can be just as creative in developing a clean, easily accessible and navigable website as you can a more involved one. Don’t be creatively or artistically indulgent for the sake of it, avoid causing information overload, and never lose sight of what your actual message is.
2. User experience
You should always have user experience in mind, and in the modern age, people want to be able to land on a web page and access and utilise the information or services they need quickly and easily. This is in part why minimalistic design is, as mentioned in point 1, so favourable these days. Make sure that when you are designing and composing your site, the things people need are clearly visible, and that there is nothing that will cause any confusion, even for those with limited computer experience.
3. Be big and bold
Keep typography, fonts and text big and bold. This makes everything stand out, captures people’s attentions and also improves readability for those using portable devices such as mobile phones or tablets. Zooming in all the time or constantly squinting to try and read text is no fun for anybody and can put people off. Check out these excellent examples of big, bold design for inspiration.
4. Use videos
Videos are a great way to showcase products and get ideas and messages across, and can often do it in a much quicker and more effective way than text or static images can. Moreover, they can break the page up and people are less likely to get bored watching a few minute long video than they are trawling through lengthy blocks of text.
5. Flat design
Say no to over the top visuals and 3D by keeping things flat. Flat design, thanks in large part to Apple iOS, is fast becoming the most popular and in demand form of web design. In short, flat design embraces the clean interface and keep things looking sleek with no frills layouts and more subtle and neutral colours. Winamp’s website is a fine example of flat design done right.
6. Use animations
Animations, when done properly, can be highly effective in getting across a particular product, idea or story, and they don’t necessarily need to take up much space. A sophisticated animation that blends in well with the rest of the site can also help hold, or gain, a person’s attention span without being too obviously promotional or sales-like.
7. Easy user registration
Have a quick user registration form that is easy to access and won’t take up more than a minute of someone’s time. Mailing lists and obtaining contact information of your visitors or customers remains as important as ever, and the information is valuable. Try to integrate this into one of your main pages or have a pop up where they simply enter an email address rather than making them go out their way to sign up to anything. Just don’t be too over-bearing, and try and make it beneficial for them in some way.
8. Mobile compatible
People are increasingly accessing and browisng the web on their smartphones, and if your website doesn’t translate well on a mobile, you could lose out big time. As this guide full of web design tips from Google suggests, keep flash to a bare minimum and ensure it is totally compatible with mobile phones and that it looks as good on a mobile browser as on computer one.
9. Fixed navigation toolbar
This plays a huge part in usability. Keep things straight forward with a fixed navigation toolbar which will be at the top of the web page at all times so people can move around your site freely and won’t have to keep looking for it.
10. Quick loading pages
Don’t overload your web pages with big files and content that will take a long time to load. This is impractical and in 2014, people simply do not have the patience.
11. Make contact information clear
There is nothing more annoying than struggling to find a business’s contact information, and the truth is that people will give up pretty quickly if it isn’t obvious. Don’t make them work to find it. Keep contact info visible at all times, preferably on every page.
These are just some web design tips to get you started, and there is plenty more to learn along the way. Keep an eye on trends and new developments, and always keep user experience in mind to keep providing the best web experience possible.
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Photo Credit: BASF – The Chemical Company via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Ross Merritt Photography via Compfight cc