Web design, for a long time now, has always been about the looks. It’s been about the colors, the typography, and the language used to build a website or the core platform the website is based on. With a judicious mix of concepts, wireframes, graphics, content, and overall planning, websites would come alive. They’d make it to the “designers” hall of fame or gain massive recognition among the design community, but are these websites worth the money being spent on them?
The only way to figure out whether the investment on your website was worth it, was to compare your leads, sales, or business you’ve received from it to the original cost.
Designers will design. Developers will code. It’s essentially up to the entrepreneurs to make a profit on their investment. Making a website that will work for you isn’t going to happen after the website is ready. You’ll need to plan everything – from concept to results. You need to take the lead and come up with a list of things you want (or don’t want) your website to have. You need to build a website that converts; not one that just exists.
Here’s how you can set your priorities right for 2014 and beyond:
It’s responsive. It’s responsive. It’s responsive
There’s just no escaping responsive design these days. Go by the statistics and you will see that the number of mobile devices grows every year. People are falling in love with smartphones and tablets. This trend is only going to grow in the next few years. If your website isn’t responsive, it’ll be ignored.
Ignorance of a business asset (your website is one of them), is pure loss. If you already have a website, get it optimized for mobile. If you are about to build one, make sure your develop a website that’s all-out responsive or at least has mobile and tablet versions.
Your customers demand responsive design, so why not give it to them? Responsive web design will also provide benefits like better SEO rankings as Matt Cutts explains.
Flash is dead. Anything heavy on your website makes it slower to load and your customers will only be excited to leave. Do too much of anything and you kill your possible conversions. Have bland copy on your site and it’ll cost you dearly. It took a while for the world to realize this, but simplicity triumphs everything (and not just in relation to web design). The world’s greatest companies have the simplest logos. Some of the hottest startups have the simplest USPs or value propositions.
Awesome gadgets, products, and designs are all simple. It’s easy to mess things up; and it takes a lot of hard work to bring out simplicity in design. Remember: Don’t ask what you can add to your design, ask what you can take away.
Those things you thought were awesome. Let them go
Call it inertia. Or maybe it’s laziness. It’s pathetic to see some websites still looking like sitting ducks. If this were war, we’d see a bloodbath. Blame the designers for sticking to what “seemingly” works and continue to produce designs that don’t work any longer.
Most websites have those sliding banners today. They also feature forms that’ll take ages to fill. Surprisingly, some still have circular script logos, flash intros, too many fonts, and complicated designs as Maryam Taheri points out in her great article titled: Web Design Trends That Will Disappear in 2014.
Then, there’s more: animated GIF flags, large hero images, stock photos, automated popups, m.dot sites, irrelevant elements, auto-play videos, and even sidebars are all things that have to go from this year on as Scott Gerber of Mashable helpfully explains with contributions from at least 12 entrepreneurs.
Good content will take over in importance. UX/UI will increasingly pull you back to the drawing board to make multiple tweaks. Like marketers, you will always have to be testing.
Stick with the trends, this year and beyond
Web design is a morphing industry. Changes happen way faster here than anywhere else. Ben Moss of Web Designer Depot points out a few trends that we’ll see in 2014. We caught this:
“Mobile first doesn’t mean desktop-never”.
Mobile users will grow but so will desktop users. He also insists on making sure that you have only one website that renders for every mobile device and not have multiple sites (like mobile-only websites and along with desktop ones).
He also explains that content – by itself – will now need voice, personality, and character that will play along with the design. The importance of rich media will grow and Google will continue to play with its algorithms.
Design for conversions
Make conversions your priority and not design itself. Good-looking websites are good on designers’ portfolios but not for your profit-and-loss statements. The only thing business owners and marketers should be concerned about is conversions and nothing else.
Sacrifice what doesn’t help on your web pages. Go ruthless. Eliminate any element that does help with conversions. Use tools like optimizely.com for your general web pages. If you use landing pages, you can use unbounce.com and it’s in-built A/B testing to make sure you work with conversions in mind.
Even traffic, paid ad campaigns, email marketing campaigns, and a humongous social media presence won’t make any sense if you can’t convert.
Branding is still alive
Branding depends on design, content, and your products or services. It also depends on how you do business and treat your customers. All that fancy design and awesome content won’t mean a thing if customers get more frustration than a simple transaction. Keep your graphics, content, design, and attitude consistent is essential.
How are you planning your frontend design this year? What are you going to set up as web design priorities this year? What are some of those things that you’ll never see (or see from now on) on your website in 2014?