5 Ways to Amp up your Web Design
We live in a digital age where people are constantly immersed in the digital media that exists all around them, especially in the palm of their hands. Your online presence (or lack thereof) says more about you than you think. Having a website makes you look up-to-date, legitimate, and credible. How you present yourself initially to a viewer will make or break their perception of you. People expect fast, modern-looking sites, and they are easily turned off by a site that doesn’t appeal to their standards. If they feel that your website is dated, not relatable, difficult to navigate, or boring, then chances are that they will move on to the next search result until they find one that seems more promising. After all, if you haven’t updated your website since 2003, how can they really be sure you will even answer your email or return a phone call?
So, in this two-part series, we’re going to explore a few of the top design trends to consider when evaluating your current website or planning to launch a freshly-developed one.
1. Responsive Design
The fact of the matter is that most people now access the internet first and foremost (or even solely) from a mobile device. The days of static web design—a design that is built to fit only one type of screen size—are over. Now, it is not only standard, but crucial practice to utilize a responsive layout that will adapt appropriately to fit different monitor sizes or devices.
Investing in a mobile responsive website will allow users to easily visit your site from their phone verses a desktop computer. Nothing is going to turn off your page’s visitors like trying to view a desktop site from a mobile device. Nobody likes the inconvenience of having to try to zoom or click buttons too small for the tip of a finger to press. The more difficult you make this for the visitors to your page, the less time they will be willing to spend there. From a potentially dedicated new follower to somebody else’s client or congregant, your site’s inability to respond to mobile devices could send people straight back to Google to look for someone who understands today’s technology standards.
2. Authentic, High-Quality Photography and Video
As the average user experiences increasingly fast internet speeds, it is more and more possible to support large, high-quality photo and video without significantly impacting page load time, which had been an issue in years past. Now that you don’t have to wrestle between speed and content, eye-catching and creative photography and videography is a great tool to draw people into your site and make them want to spend time there.
High quality photos and video are key. Nothing makes a site look more outdated than blurry iPhone photos on your website. If your organization doesn’t have access to a high-quality camera, consider hiring a photographer for a few events or if purse strings are tight, a photography student may be willing to help you to expand their portfolio.
To maximize the potential of images and video, make them visible in the header area of your website and as background elements. This not only makes you look professional, it also calls upon the strongest human sense to capture the attention of users and engage them in your website’s content. If you really want to “wow” people, great photography and videography is a crucial element to pay attention to.
Make sure, though, that the images and video interact well with the overall message and purpose of your site. If these glossy elements clash with what you mean to represent, you may turn people away at the door. An image of a wide expanse of nature may be beautiful, but it may play against you if your church or business is city-based. Try to keep in mind what you think your visitor wants to see in those attention-grabbing pieces of media. Those pieces need to add up to an accurate image of what you represent.
3. Flat, Minimal Design
The appeal of flat, minimal design was probably inspired by branding introduced by Apple, Inc. Think of the clean look Apple presents the world: lots of open space on the page with a few sharp, clear images. This has become the preferred look across the web now, and users will reward you when they see it.
In an added benefit to the “cool” factor, a flat, minimal web design keeps your website from looking cluttered and focuses on quality content and information (along with those eye-catching images and videos mentioned above) that users find pertinent without the unnecessary, distracting bells and whistles.
While it can be tempting to throw all of the clever tricks you and your web designer know onto the page, keeping things simple and neat keeps users from having to constantly dig for what they are interested in on your website. As another nice bonus, it translates better into mobile-friendly layouts.
A word of caution, though. Minimal design reinforces the need for quality content with carefully chosen colors, use of white space, and intriguing photography to effectively engage and inform users. With fewer distractions, the quality of your content shows through—like everything else—much more clearly.
The flat, minimal design is key to any site that wants to look like it was made today and not 1996. But it’s not as simple as copying Apple’s use of space. There are a number of smaller elements required to really make the site’s design come together.
4. Bold, Strong Typography and Iconography
Larger, simpler type usage and fonts on websites has the double benefit of being trendy and also eye-catching. It aids in the process of developing a minimal design and allows designers to place emphasis and call-outs on a site in a clean, catchy way. Plus, with more font resources than ever, designers are able to call on more fonts for usage, allowing many designers to get creative.
The use of icons as a design is on the rise as well. Icons are easy to remember graphics that quickly convey ideas. Icons create simplified visual interest in conjunction with headline text or as stand-alone items. As with photographs, icons help encapsulate your identity at a glance in a way text simply isn’t able to. Although you want to avoid cluttering the page with too much, a few choice icons can save a lot of space and make the text you do use stand out more.
5. Hover States
A hover state is an action that occurs when a user puts their cursor over a particular item. A common example is with navigation menu entries: when moused over, the color of the menu item changes.
But, hover states can be so much more. Examples of these include size changes upon roll over, icon swaps, or images fading and blurring. This is becoming a popular way to engage users in conjunction with minimal design framework. Hover states make things “pop.” These simple animations add areas of interest and creativity to a website without being distracting or gaudy.
These are only a couple simple trends in the world of site building. Design trends are constantly changing as new innovative ideas change how we experience the internet every day. As you can see, at the current moment, it is imperative to adapt to the fact that most websites are accessed via mobile devices.
At the same time, users now expect to see a clean, minimalistic design that delivers information in a heavily visual fashion. Even if you don’t personally care about these things in your online experience, it is important to stand out and avoid falling behind in website trends because many people judge a business or ministry from that first impression. Having a site that looks modern and interacts in the way users expect it to can make all the difference between a user sticking around to learn all about you and drifting off to the next link on Google. Make sure, based on their web experience with you, that they don’t need to search any further.