by Nancy Seeger
It’s 2015 and a wonderful time to take stock and set new goals for your business. As you look over your business marketing, you might wonder – if it’s time for a new website!
As you can imagine, website technology is constantly evolving, as are the devices we use. There are so many fabulous possibilities including:
- Mobile-friendly (responsive design) coding technique, which means only one website to update for all devices (instead of a separate mobile site);
- Thousands of fonts to choose from (hey, have you checked to see if your logo is available as a web font?);
- And don’t forget WordPress, which gets better every year! Talk about amazingly easy video embedding!
Now before we go further, let’s discuss web trends you need to be aware of so your website looks current, works well, and dazzles your audience.
- HTML5. If you’re purchasing a theme, make sure this is the HTML it’s using. Theme sellers will most likely proclaim this loudly in their features list. If you have a web designer, ask. Video support really improved with HTML5.
- Responsive Design (sometimes referred to as mobile-friendly). Introduced in 2009, this game-changing and Google-endorsed technique should be incorporated into your theme. (Mobile-usage in 2014 surpassed desktop-usage of websites.)
- Relevant for Your Industry. When choosing a layout, remember what’s appropriate for your target market and field. For example, a portfolio theme would be great for a photographer, but not for an accountant.
#2 Design Elements
- Beautiful fonts! You are no longer limited to Arial. Fonts are very powerful design elements! There are thousands to choose from. Check out the leading font sellers.
- Big Typography. With the enhanced resolutions of so many devices, big fonts are in! Minimal sizes for body text are now 16 pixels with many designs starting at 18 pixels.
- Full screen photo backgrounds. While these are a favorite, if your audience is largely interested in content, they may be a distraction.
- Clean style social media icons. Fancy icons are out; your readers know what Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the gang are. Simple icons or just the logos are what top designers are using.
- Flat style. Rounded corners, if any, are usually minimalistic and flat. Embossing, gradient backgrounds, and overlapping ribbon banners are out.
- Most Overused Color – Blue. It’s a lovely, calming color. That’s why banks love it and unfortunately every other website out there does, too. FYI if you’re going for Zen, think sage!
- Keep Your Audience in Mind. Magenta may not be the best color for a male-dominated market. Or okay perhaps a rainbow effect if you’re supporting the LGBT community. Choose colors your audience can relate to and be consistent with your branding.
- Keep it Readable. Red and green are difficult colors for those with some form of color blindness (up to 10% of the population). That doesn’t mean you can’t use them, but be wary of using it for text or buttons. Also, older readers have trouble focusing on red.
#4 Trends to Avoid
- Sliders. Alas, the data is pouring in; sliders do not convert prospects. Many people have developed banner blindness and simply scroll right past them.
- Embossed buttons. Flat style is in, bulging buttons are out.
- Rounded corner boxed designs. This much overused design technique surrounding all of your text has left the building.
- One page Parallax design. This was so overused in 2014, some industry experts speculate this technique may quickly die out.
- Facebook Like Box. Speed is king with websites and Google is pushing for fast-loading sites. Unfortunately, the like box will slow your website down.
#5 Layout Elements
- Search bars. If you are a busy blog or informational resource, include them. But having it in the header is a bit much (unless you are Mashable). Your sidebar or footer will do just fine.
- Social Media Sharing Icons. Keep it light and don’t overwhelm the content with sharing icons that eclipse your blog posts. Current recommendations from usability experts advise no more than four (see Amazon example).
- Three column designs. With mobile devices taking over website viewing, it’s best to keep it simple with one or two columns. Only desktop designs typically show more than one column, while mobile devices resize down to one.
Whew! I hope this helps you get started with a new website design. A well-planned, strong design is appealing to your audience and it’s an integral part of your marketing toolkit.
Nancy Seeger is based just outside of Washington DC in Virginia but still thinks of Michigan, her birth state, as home.
For Nancy, it has always been about the audience. First as a professional musician, then as an orchestra manager learning how to engage the public with marketing campaigns, even when websites were still considered optional.
After leaving orchestras, Nancy realized her passion for web design. She spent two years taking classes to hone her skills while working with her first client, a GRAMMY artist. Currently, Nancy’s web design firm, Arts Assistance, creates sites for a variety of industries. Nancy believes it’s about connecting with the audience and blogs weekly, sharing website tips for businesses. She is a strong advocate of design as part of the marketing toolkit.
When not buried in Photoshop or code, Ms. Seeger thinks being green is buying a fancy espresso machine to cut out daily trips to Starbucks. Because she can’t live on espresso alone, she also loves drinking green smoothies (with her latté of course). Is there any better way to start the day?