As I often mention in my emails to you, I get a lot of messages from readers asking for help with various elements of their online business.
One of the most common emails that lands in my inbox is when I am asked to take a quick look at someone’s website and tell them what I think.
Usually, with a big idea and a whole lot of passion behind the site itself, it’s not the content that is worrying you. It’s how the site LOOKS.
Many of you, like me, are FAR from being skilled web designers. Luckily, using WordPress themes (or similar) means a lot of that stress can be taken out of the process.
But there’s still some need to keep an eye out for trends in web design and how the (successful parts of the) Internet is changing visually.
Websites need to evolve to keep up, and so making sure your site looks relevant, modern and well maintained can be a big part of success.
With that in mind, today I want to talk to you a little about some trends in web design…
How you can make sure your site looks modern, professional and practically perfect in every way…
Check out modern fonts –? These days, designers are experimenting with lots and lots different typography on websites. In the past, you saw very little other than Helvetica or Arial and even Times New Roman fonts. Now you’re going to start seeing more personality added, with the use of non-typical fonts.
You want your website to look professional and be readable, but why not experiment with some new fonts? It’s easier than ever before.
If you used WordPress to build your website, you can get access to more fonts using a simple plugin like Easy Google Fonts.
Using a plugin like this gives you more font capabilities on your WordPress site without having to understand the technical side of changing fonts within your existing WordPress theme – which would usually require the editing of some code. It’s a great way to get control of your website’s typography.
Whatever font family your site uses, there are some rules that many of the sites I see break, but that can be easily avoided…
Limit how many fonts you use – You should try to keep to no more than two or three different fonts, at the most, on your website overall.
Choose a font for emphasis, one for paragraph style text, and perhaps one for headlines. Using more fonts than that can make your website look confusing and cluttered.
Your fonts HAVE to readable – this sounds obvious but there are so many sites I struggle to actually read. A font might look beautiful to you, but if it’s not readable to EVERYONE, it won’t matter. Check out how your font looks on different browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari – to ensure readability.
Use high contrast – Your font and the background need to contrast with each other. For instance, use dark font on light background and light font on dark backgrounds (be careful with the latter though: it’s something I personally hate to see). Use the reverse for only certain elements on your site, such as graphics, headers, menu items and so forth.
Use design elements to draw attention to words – Use things like arrows, colours, large buttons, and so forth. However, keep these graphical additions to a minimum in order to keep the content at the centre of everything.
You want the content to stand out, not the graphics. Graphics are there to enhance, not replace the words and meaning of your website.
If you consistently use the same types of fonts on every website, website page, reports or books you write etc, you’ll become known for that and stick in your audience’s mind better.
Simple design is key to your site looking beautiful…
These days, a website needs to be viewable, readable, and useable on any mobile device, as well as a PC. To make this possible, web designers are choosing to go back to basics by using simple, minimalistic design.
If you used WordPress themes for your website design, you already have access to excellent themes to choose from that are beautiful, simple, and responsive to the way a reader has accessed the site.
If you are using an older WordPress theme, you might want to start looking at newer themes and focus on using only responsive ones.
If you don’t use responsive themes yet, you are going to miss out on sales. Your business, whether online or offline, really depends on people being able to use your website with a mobile device.
Why you need to keep things simple:
- Users have gone mobile – mobile screens are small: complex, cluttered, dark or old fashioned sites just don’t translate very well to the screen in people’s hands.
- Google prefers responsive designs. Responsive design (a design that alters with the format its viewed in) is good SEO. It’s that simple. The time to start making sure your theme or design is responsive has pretty much already passed. Check your site on your mobile now.
- Simple, minimalistic sites load faster – another SEO must, as well as being something users really need. No one likes a slow-loading site. The more simple and minimalistic you can design your site, the better it will work on any device and the faster it will load too. Users will not wait for your site to load. It’s that simple.
But make sure it doesn’t look boring!
With all this talk of simple, simple, simple, you may think that a site is going to look a bit, well, DULL. But there are lots of ways to add some interesting features to your design.
- Use lots of images. High-quality images bring sites to life. Take advantage of the interest they can add to your design.
- Change menu colours. This is a great way to immediately add interest to the website by having the menu items change colour when you roll your mouse over them.
- Create a popup. Perhaps you want to hide a form under an icon for the form so that the form isn’t cluttering up the page. You can allow the form to show at mouse over and only appear for use if the user clicks.
- Enlarge images. Add hover effects that make an image pop out and look larger at mouse over so that the user can see the image better.
- Hide extra buttons. If your minimalistic design is being affected by too many buttons and choices, leave some hidden that do not show unless the user needs them.
‘Hover’ designs, which relates to a lot of the above points, can be found on many WordPress themes already. Google it and check them out.
I could talk about this subject in a lot of detail (it’s one of my favourites), but I think I’ll leave it there for today.
Do take a look at your own website/s after reading this email and think about if they are as ‘good looking’ as they could be.
As always, don’t hesitate to send me an email if you have any questions.