As a designer or creative professional, you understand the importance of keeping up with cutting-edge design trends. You have roughly 3 seconds (usually less) to capture your audience’s attention, so it’s critical to produce eye-catching designs. This year, the surge in smartphone and tablet use, growing influence of social media and a renewed focus on user experience will impact the best practices web designers should be utilizing. With those factors in mind, here are top 10 design tips to help you create the most innovative and inspiring visual content for the web, regardless of what device your audience is using.
Before you even begin the creative process, it’s important to know what exactly you’re trying to accomplish with your design. Identify your audience, what the design’s main purpose is and what reaction you want to evoke from your users. Considering these factors from the very beginning will help your design become much more intuitive and effective. All of the following tips influence the user experience and are creative ways to optimize your design. For more information on UX design, take the advice of Silicon Valley experts and follow the 4 Rules for User Experience Design we recently outlined.
Whether you’re using a large desktop monitor, a smartphone or tablet, a responsive design will adapt to your viewing environment. Consider how your design will appear on a range of different displays, making sure it adapts well to all screen dimensions. This is a key element for web design and should always be tested across all devices including the vertical and horizontal displays on smartphones and tablets.
Simplicity is a design concept that has always been stressed when designing graphics and images. Minimalism is back in vogue to keep the viewer’s focus on what’s really important. Like for landing pages, keep the core product and call-to-action the main focus. Avoid overdesign and having too many elements that distract and frustrate the end user. And since your audience is increasingly using tablets and smartphones, you don’t want to compromise their experience with clutter.
Following in the vein of keeping your entire design simple, choosing flatter colors over bold, bright and loud hues will keep the focus on your company’s content and brand. Single tone colors are more appealing to audiences, drawing their eyes to what’s really important on the page.
Incorporating large background photos are a great way to quickly engage your audience and make a statement. Choose relevant images that blend well with the rest of your site’s design. Repurposing these photos on Pinterest and Instagram will carry over your brand image to multiple platforms and improve consistency and recognition.
Vertical scrolling may not be the right fit for every web design, but it’s definitely a trend worth considering. With the increasing popularity of smart devices, it’s only natural for designers to think about creating an effortless web experience for their user. Product tours are beginning to transition to the one-page layout where all you need to do is scroll down to navigate through the content – no need to click separate links to explore different areas of the site. Pinterest really revolutionized this model of infinite scrolling, and the trend has caught on with sites like Google Images and many media sites that offer an endless stream of stories and content.
Don’t forget about the ubiquitous social media badges that grace just about every website you go to these days. Strategic placement and design of these buttons can make the difference between a lackluster traffic day to your content (and brand) going instantly viral.
Your web audience doesn’t want to waste time scrolling through endless pages and squinting to find a call-to-action link. Use big, prominent buttons to optimize your site for conversion and help your visitors easily find what they’re searching for. Another bonus is that large buttons look great on smartphones and tablets.
At the end of the day, content is still king, and these days, it’s more important than ever. All the hard work put into your design will be a waste if it isn’t supporting extraordinary, captivating content. Producing engaging, entertaining and educational content for your audience is the key to gaining traction and launching your brand to new levels or recognition in the digital world. When you start with thought-provoking original content, a well-executed design can help kick off a viral marketing effect.