All web designers want to guarantee that visitors will have a long stay on their site, peruse its contents and, if applicable, purchase the products the site promotes. What methods and approaches in web design best ensure this outcome? The below 12 tips detail the new steps to take for web design success in 2016.
1. Start your Designs Offline
Most web designers are accustomed to starting the design of their site inside a code editor, relying heavily on the ability to modify and clean it up later on. However, designers should not discredit the priceless tools of pencil and paper. A sketch or blueprint could save a lot of re-coding in the future since it aids in the visualization process. And if pencil and paper are too old fashioned, there are a number of excellent prototyping design apps that can outline the web design concept prior to starting its development, saving a lot of time from potentially coding something that doesn’t fit the bill.
2. Give the Page Space
Whitespace, AKA negative space, is the section(s) of a page left unmarked, blank or empty. In order to incorporate more white space in a web design and deliver a less cluttered look, think about the big picture: every detail on the page. Buttons, margins, headers, footers, menus, images and lists, all text; consider every element and try leaving more space between each. The best benefit of adding white space is that it will help your site traffic navigate your site quickly.
3. Respect the Fold
The idea of designing for the fold has always been a priority for web designers, but as technology continues to grow and diversify, some have gotten away from this notion. This may not be the best idea. Putting the site’s call to action in the upper portion of the page caters to window shoppers and lazy browsers. With no need to scroll, putting the most imperative information on your site at the top only seems logical.
4. Use Style Guides
Style guides are valuable and popular resources in the world of design. They were created for publications to maintain a uniform style throughout their range of content. Web designers can themselves create a style guide to ensure continuity throughout one site, or one primary site and its sister sites. This continuity will be aesthetically pleasing to visitors of the sites, and also allow them to recognize the relation of one page to the other.
5. Forget Flash
Adobe Flash, as the internet standard it used to be, is becoming obsolete. There are many alternatives to Flash out there, such as HTML5, which has search engine friendly text and the ability to function on iOS and Android operating systems without the need to install a plugin.
6. Use Larger Fonts
Large text sizes aren’t a new or exciting trend in web design. However, its proven practice shows that it’s a simple and easy way to grab a site visitor’s attention. Bigger fonts can direct visitors on where to look and what the big idea is. Once their attention is captured, you’ll need only to find a way to keep them hanging around.
7. Keep it Mobile
If the site visitor has your web page in the palm of his hand, it’s no inconvenience for him to keep scrolling. This is why it is imperative to make sure a website is designed to function on all mobile devices (tablets, cell phones, smart watches, etc.). Part of making a site mobile-friendly includes more than just the layout and coding – images should be optimized for mobile viewing, and so should links, font sizes, and color. Using a professional responsive WordPress theme makes this a lot easier.
8. Expand and Reevaluate Existing Methods and Tools
Everybody’s workflow could be made more efficient. New tools and resources are becoming available at an increasing rate. It is always in a web designer’s best interest to seek out the newest and most highly rated design tools. Updates in software that’s already being used should always be downloaded. Changes are made, after all, because somebody found a better, easier or new way of doing something.
9. A Picture Tells a Thousand Words
Stock photos are typically what fill the far reaches of a website. These are royalty free images that web designers can choose from a wide array of, and which are not usually the best of the best images on the internet. In order to increase a web site’s chance of success, consider the impact of better photography. Creating or commissioning images from scratch can be easy if you have the time and supplies, or it can be time-consuming and expensive. But it is not an option that should be ruled out.
10. Perform A/B Testing
Remember learning the scientific method in grade school? Well, there’s a web designer version of it too. A/B testing lets us see which of a web site’s designs are more likely to be successful. Also known as split and bucket testing, A/B testing has a web designer create two versions of the same site or page, demonstrate these to the same audience and gauge which is more attractive, user-friendly, and effectively designed.
A/B testing is also a good method to negotiate with clients since it rests on actual evidence that can help support a web designer’s recommendations. Guides exist for those using A/B testing for the first time, with WordPress and CSS.
11. Design Every Page as if It Is a Landing Page
Most websites have a design that assumes a visitor enters through the home page and navigates to other parts of the site. The reality, however, is that a majority of traffic to a site does not begin on the home page. For this reason, consider designing every page of a website to be successful by treating each as its own landing page. Include all relevant information in bold and in a large font and don’t forget links to the actual home page or directions on how to navigate the site.
12. Eliminate the Clutter
A final note on making a website successful this year, and in the future, is to clean it up. It’s too often that site visitors will be overwhelmed with graphics, clickable options or too much information. The intention is to draw them to the site and keep them there, reading, buying, learning or playing – not being distracted by infographics or any irrelevant information on the page. Cut it out. Show, don’t tell. Simple design can narrow a viewer’s focus and hold their attention longer than messy, scattered banners, logos, and hyperlinks.
In conclusion, every design decision impacts the overall product that is a web page. Web design is an art and a science, and following the above tips can help any website achieve success in 2016.