Color Schemes and Style Guides.
We may be in the final months of 2016, but it’s not time to give up on revamping and refreshing your skills when it comes to web design.
Looking back over the year gives you plenty to learn from, and having some skills in hand makes it easy to move into 2017 a much stronger player.
Responsive Designs Only
Mobile has at the very least caught up to desktop when it comes to websites, if not surpassed it completely. That means that choosing a fluid design is no longer something that is optional if you want to satisfy the 50 percent of visitors who arrive at your website through mobile devices.
In fact, it may even be better to choose a mobile first design and put your primary focus on mobile users as that number is growing rapidly.
- Consider Cards
Arranging your website using a card design makes it easier to navigate, cleaner to read and simpler to design. Containing the most important elements to cards also makes you plan carefully and truly think about the user response and actions on your site.
The user experience should always be the first thing we think of, but too often we forget to accommodate the most important people – our customers. Clean, crisp, card design is a great way to refine your focus in this area.
Lose the Sidebar
In theory a sidebar is designed improve the user experience on a website. In actuality, however, the sidebar on websites is making your otherwise beautiful website more crowded and even more confusing.
The sidebar has been hijacked by ads, affiliate offers and entirely too many links to be manageable for a visitor, and it really needs to go. Reduce or even remove the sidebar completely to make your site design more user friendly.
- Free the White Space
Clean. Simple. That is your goal for the modern website. If you have not embraced the more simplistic web design make 2016 the year you increase white space and decrease clutter. Remove elements on your site that are too distracting and not particularly beneficial.
Then space out the important components of your site so that there is plenty of empty space to set them off properly. This provides a cleaner, easier to navigate space for users.
Design a Style Guide
The large companies have developed their own style guides and you should, too. A style guide is the approved formatting, font and styles for a company.
When you develop one for your websites, you will ensure that all of your sites are consistent company wide. The style guide also helps to reduce the decisions needed for every new site since font, colors, spacing and formatting are already decided.
Use a Drafting Process
Sometimes we comfortable with designing website elements and just start coding or filling in content on a template. This can lead to fast results, but they aren’t always the most attractive ones.
A better choice would be to use a drafting process when you write. This will allow you to plan, arrange, organize, consult the style guide and then create. Sure, it might take a few extra minutes, but starting a web design process offline will lead to improved results online.
Size 18 or Bust
Larger font isn’t a new thing, but it’s certainly a big thing in 2016. Using a larger font does a few great things for your site. It improves readability. It encourages you to use fewer words for simplicity sake. It looks better on mobile devices.
Make your text at least a size 18. Then use even larger fonts for headers and subheaders. The resulting site will be much more navigable and reader-friendly.
Remember the site trees we used to obsess over? Hopefully you’re still obsessing about yours, but this time with an effort to streamline and reduce the clutter. If you have too many links to too many other pages in your content, you aren’t helping your reader stay on the site. You’re confusing them.
Offering fewer choices to new destinations can actually boost audience interaction with your material. There is definitely such a thing as too many choices. Give them a few choices and make them natural ones that interested readers would like.
- Improve Simple Graphics
If you’ve been grabbing free stock images, it’s time to stop. Make 2016 the year that you replaced tired, overused free graphics with images you either create yourself or those you actually have to pay for.
When you consider that images can cost as little as a dollar or two, it makes sense to invest ten dollars per website to bring in fresh pictures that your readers haven’t already seen on twenty other websites in your field.
- Images, Images, Images
Speaking of images, do you have enough of them? As 2016 marches into 2017, look again at your use of graphics. You should be thinking about using larger, more impressive images on your website.
Readers love images and they are drawn to images and even videos on websites more than they are drawn to text. That means you need to give the readers what they want and include more images, better images, ideally paid-for images.
Reduce Sliding Distractions
If you’re still using sliders on your website consider removing the slider in favor of a large static image. Why? Because the sliders create distractions and too many choices for readers.
Readers aren’t particularly interested in navigating the sliders you have on your website. They see something interested and want to check it out, but now they are clicking through arrows trying to find the right spot to read. In the interest of user patience, ditch the sliders and go with static images. The simpler design you’ll create can be considered a great bonus.
A new year is quickly approaching. Don’t you want to start 2017 with new, shiny websites? If so, this is the sweet spot of 2016 – a time to learn from what’s come before us and prepare for what is to come!