There is no way to give a single answer to the question “What makes a good site?” However, attractive, purposeful and clear yet functional design plays a major role for the success and effectiveness of a website. It is not as easy and straightforward to achieve all those things simultaneously as some people may believe, and maintaining the balance among them can be even harder. With the ever-evolving web design field and the ever-changing customer tastes, it is essential to run with the trends in order to stay relevant. Here, we have tried to list out the elements that your website should definitely have in 2014 in order to stay up to date.
A cluttered and overdone website is the easiest way to scare off the visitors and make them close the tab with your website. Forbes has ranked simplicity as one of the major trends in web design for 2014. Clean and simple design is the most ‘in’ thing right now and by the look of it, this trend will continue to grow steadily throughout the year. If you think that keeping your website simple will lead to a plain, bland or boring design, you are totally wrong. Minimalism is a whole art category in itself. Simplicity can yield an aesthetically pleasing and impressive site and at the same time, the uncluttered design can be perfectly complemented by a clean, easy to access and use navigation. You don’t have to use excessive design and visual elements just for the sake of it. Instead, avoid the information and visual overload by keeping in mind the actual message of your website at all times.
This is another major trend that is seeing a rise in 2014. Avoid 3D and over-the-top visuals and stick to a flat layout instead. The redesign of Apple iOS has played a major role for the popularity of this trend and flat design is quickly turning into the most sought-after design form. In short, this design method relies on sleek looks and clean interface with more neutral and subtle colors and less complicated layouts. A fine example of good flat design is Winamp’s website.
Maximize the User Experience
The best user experience is your ultimate goal when designing a website. Today, the primary thing that users want when they land on a website is to be able to access and utilize the services or information that they need easily and quickly. This is one of the reasons why, as we already mentioned in the first point, minimalistic design is so widely preferred these days. When you are composing and designing your website, make sure that the things which people will need can be seen clearly and that nothing on the site will cause confusion or distraction, even to the visitors with limited experience in computer use.
Easy User Registration
In our fast-paced world, no one has time for long registration forms. Obtaining the contact information and building mailing lists of your customers or visitors is as vital as ever, but you should keep your registration forms easy to access and fill. Instead of prompting your visitors to go out of their way in order to sign up for your updates, for instance (which will most likely make them lose patience and give up), try to incorporate your user registration form somewhere on a main page of your site or use a pop-up where they would simply have to enter their email address. Try to add some benefit to subscribing for your newsletters, too.
Go Big, Go Bold
You should keep your site’s fonts, text and typography big and bold. When you stick to this rule, everything will stand out (especially when well combined with a simple design), you will capture the attention of your visitors and this will also improve the readability for the ones browsing your site through mobile devices. If your visitors have to squint or zoom in to be able to read your content, they will soon be tired and annoyed and may decide to leave your site. Prevent that through the use of bold and distinctive typography.
With the number of people who use their smartphones for accessing the Internet constantly rising, you should ensure that your website is easily readable on mobile devices; otherwise you may lose a lot of traffic, and revenue too. You should keep the use of Flash to a minimum and test your website’s compatibility with different devices, both mobile and desktop ones. Responsive web design is your best bet in this regard, as it can cater to multiple device types with just one website.
Videos can put across messages and ideas as well as present products much more effectively than text and static images. They also do that a lot more quickly and engage the viewers more successfully. They break the monotony of the web page and studies have shown that people get bored more easily when they have to go through large sections of text as compared to watching a video with a few minutes’ length.
When properly done, animations can play a great role in communicating a particular message or idea or presenting a product to the users. Furthermore, it is not necessary that they should take up too much space on your website. A clever animation which is well blended in with the other sections of your site can also aid you in gaining or holding the attention of the visitors without looking too promotional or sales-oriented.
Fast Loading Pages
If you place big amounts of content and large files on your pages, they will take a lot longer to load. Apart from being impractical, this is also annoying, and today people don’t have the time or patience to wait long for web pages to load.
Fixed Navigation Toolbar
This particular element has a huge role to play for the usability of your website. Use a fixed navigation toolbar to keep everything straightforward. Make sure the navigation stays at the top of the page all the time in order for people to be able to easily navigate around your website and find whatever they are looking for without much effort. Users don’t like to spend much time looking for the desired navigation button. Organize your site navigation cleverly and do not overstuff it with categories.
Clearly Visible Contact Information
It is utterly annoying to struggle to locate a company’s contact information and it has been proven that people are inclined to give up on this task pretty quickly in case they cannot find the contact info at a glance. Don’t make your visitors exert efforts in order to find your contact information. Keep it clearly visible; it is best to ensure that you have it or a link to it included on each one of your website’s pages.
We have gathered just a few tips to help you get started with your web design. There is a lot more to learn along the way. You should keep a close watch on the design trends and the developments in the field. Also, don’t forget to put yourself in the users’ shoes and keep improving the user experience for maximum satisfaction of your visitors.