Web design is moving faster than ever and it only takes a few years now for your website to get left behind. From April 21st Google will favour mobile optimized websites in its search rankings across the world – just one example of why you need to keep up with the game.
More important than search engines though are your users and expectations are higher than ever, as people become more fluent with all things web. If you can’t satisfy your visitors with a top-notch user experience, then one of your competitors certainly will; which makes the evolution of web design a priority for every business.
The age of mobile internet
We’ve already mentioned Google’s plan to push mobile optimized sites up the results page – and this is because smartphones are the favourite browsing device for people around the world. This includes your target audience, potential and current customers as well, making mobile optimization a must-have for users and search engines alike.
There are a number of ways to optimise for mobile devices, but Google recommends responsive design as the most effective solution (the option it uses for itself). Responsive design allows you to adapt your website for different devices, screen size and orientation – all in the name of creating a better user experience for users across multiple devices. The key benefit to responsive design is you can cater for all of your visitors with a single website, no matter which device they use.
Web design trends & best practices for mobile
Mobile devices bring a number of challenges to the design table we never had to worry about before smartphones matured. Smaller screens mean less space to display content and a key attribute of responsive design are layouts that degrade into a single column for mobile. The golden rule here is that users should never have to zoom or scroll horizontally to use your website.
Text size may change and it’s important to think about colour – especially with text and backgrounds – as daylight can make it hard to distinguish similar colours on-screen. Then we have the issue of navigation: users need to move from one page to the next, but you haven’t got enough screen space as it is, let alone with a navigation menu. Which is why you see many sites adopt off-screen navigations that users can click to display and hide. Meanwhile, you want to steer clear of hover navigations, because they simply don’t work on touchscreens.
Where function meets form
The line between web design and development has blurred in recent years, because they not only share the same common goal, but also have to work closely together to achieve it. This goal is to deliver the best user experience possible to every visitor and contact forms are a perfect example of where flawless functionality needs to meet intuitive design.
Pick any element of a well-optimized website – whether it be the navigation, contact forms or responsive layout – and you see the combined work of a design team that creates intuitive solutions and a development team which makes it all happen. Performance is as vital as visual form for any modern website and even though you can’t see that code working in the background, it needs to be fine-tuned for smooth operation.