- Mar 23, 2017
- by Brad Litwin
Web design is an ever-evolving art form. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to be constantly aware of the latest developments in technology and what other designers are doing. While this takes some effort to achieve, it’s doesn’t have to be quite as resource-intensive as it sounds.
In fact, it’s never been easier for designers to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. If you want to create a top-notch website, all you have to do is pay attention to some of the fundamental components of modern web design.
In this article, we’ll reveal four essential tips to ensure that your web design skills remain on the cutting edge, and point you in the right direction to implement those tips on your next project. Let’s get cracking!
1. Focus on Usability
When it comes to web design, most people concentrate on making things look stylish. While that isn’t necessarily a bad approach, it’s also not the best one. Ideally, every web page should be both attractive and easy to use. If you hit both these nails on the head, you’ve got a winner on your hands.
Focusing entirely on style may seem like a good idea, particularly when it comes to a visual field such as web design, but here’s why doing so is wrong:
- Focusing on style over usability may lead you to make bad decisions when it comes to structure, making it hard for users to find what they’re looking for.
- If your users don’t have a good experience, they’re less likely to return to your website.
- If your website looks attractive but is a pain to use, people may walk away from it (which translates to a higher bounce rate).
The key to a great website is to make it both attractive and a pleasure to interact with. To optimize for usability, you can start by focusing on building a better navigational experience, keeping your layouts simple, and making sure your site doesn’t include any unnecessary content.
2. Choose the Right Typography
Typography is far more than just text; in fact, it is considered an art form. With that in mind, figuring out which fonts to use and how to use them is crucial. They need to be easy to read and fit well with your branding. For example, a simple sans serif font suits a website that preaches minimalism:
The perfect font may mean the difference between readers choosing to skip over your content and making their way through it. This may sound like an exaggeration, but when we’re talking about web design, making things as easy to digest as possible is critical.
Aside from improving your site’s readability, the right font may also enable you to stand out among your competition, particularly if it’s unique. Moreover, the fonts you choose should mesh well with your site’s overall design to help create a cohesive brand image. For example, you probably wouldn’t expect a tech-focused blog to use gothic fonts.
Thankfully, there are tons of resources available to start you off on your search. There are also font pairing guides to help you combine fonts that complement each other. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you might even want to try creating your own.
3. Optimize for Mobile Devices
Ignoring mobile sensibilities may seem like a small oversight if you’re new to web design, but it’s actually a costly mistake. Here are the two main reasons why:
- Mobile devices actually account for more traffic than desktops these days. In short, mobile users are your new main audience.
- Most people spend more time on their smartphones or tablets than on PCs. That means it’s critical for you to adjust your website’s design to their needs.
Whether you’re new to web design or an experienced developer, you may currently consider design from a desktop-first perspective, so the change could be jarring. However, adjusting to this new paradigm isn’t necessarily that difficult.
If you’re dealing with an existing site, the key is to test each of your designs for responsiveness. That means making sure your content is readable on smaller viewports, that your menus are easy to find, and – of course – making sure your website looks good. If you’re using a platform such as WordPress, picking the right theme can help you tackle most of these issues quickly.
If you’re starting from scratch, there are some excellent guides available that describe exactly how to take a mobile-first approach. It basically involves designing all of your content for the smallest screen first, before scaling up. This is simply the opposite to the traditional desktop-first approaches, which involves designing for the largest screen first.
4. Use a Style Guide
There isn’t a universal standard for what constitutes ‘good’ web design, but most of us can agree on a few guidelines, such as those we’ve described previously. In that same vein, plenty of organizations have come forward lately with their own design guidelines or style guides, such as Google’s Material Design:
If you’re struggling with adapting your website to modern web design standards, using a style guide might be just the solution. Here’s why:
- They usually take into consideration all modern elements of web design, and tell you how to implement them adequately.
- Keeping up with the latest trends can make your website look more professional (as long as you don’t overdo it).
Aside from Google’s Material Design, there are plenty of style guides you can check out for more tips on how to design your next web project. Two of our favorite examples are Mozilla’s Style Guide and MailChimp’s UX Guide.
The best part is, if you’re using a style guide created by industry leaders such as the above-named three, your designs are bound to adhere to modern standards. Just remember to add your own nuances here and there so you don’t end up with a design that looks identical to someone else’s.
Being a web designer is far easier than it used to be in some respects, but definitely doesn’t come without its challenges. Thankfully, staying up to date with the key components of modern web design doesn’t have to be one of them.
Using the tips we’ve provided, you can take your designs to the next level and provide your users with a better experience. Let’s recap them quickly:
- Focus on usability.
- Choose the right typography.
- Optimize for mobile devices.
- Use a style guide.
Also, if you are just getting started you may consider checking out the many content management systems available (such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal). At A2 Hosting, your CMS comes pre-installed on your shared hosting account, giving you a head start on your way to building the perfect website!
Image credit: Pixabay.