Web Design Trends: Building a Competitive Website in 2016
A website is undeniably essential for any small or medium sized business these days and there’s an infinite number of ways to put one together. But before you dive right in—whether you plan to hire a web designer or plan to make it your weekend DIY project—it is important to set out the the goals you plan to accomplish with a new website.
In defining your goals, the first question you should ask yourself is why you need a website. Are you trying to sell a product? Build a new brand? Or just have a great presence when someone searches your name on Google? What do you want to show them? It is important to think about these things beforehand, and have them in mind when you talk to a web designer or begin your project. Taking 10 minutes to write down your goals is always a good idea.
In the year 2016, websites are seemingly easier than ever to create. You’ve got Wix and Weebly, Squarespace and WordPress, all of which claim that you’ll be up and running in no time with a website that will take your breath away. While it’s true that drag and drop templates don’t require advanced coding knowledge, the technical side is only one piece of the pie. The other pieces (and critical pieces, at that) include creative expertise, optimization for search, mobile and social, and ongoing content marketing integration. It’s important to keep in mind that while templates can be used as a quick start or for novices, the trade-off is that you’ll most likely be sacrificing individuality and the opportunity to fully optimize the user experience in the long run.
Anyone who has spent time perusing their favorite sites, blogs and social media has seen these websites: poorly designed with no clear message for the potential customer or client. Sometimes, the sites look fragmented, broken or incomplete. Obviously, a poorly designed website won’t allow for effective engagement, and missing call to actions or simple functionality will not entice anyone to read more, nor will it set your brand apart in the ever-growing digital marketplace.
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when putting together your initial website plan.
- First, remember that mobile is king. 80% of all website visitors are using smartphones, tablets or other devices to view your website. Your site will need to be fully mobile-responsive and have the capabilities to keep up with videos, infographics, and other rich interactive media that can weigh down a poorly built website.
- Next, website accessibility is a concept that’s rapidly gaining traction. About 75 million people in the US are disabled, and as the current generations age, there will be a significant need to ensure that our websites are accessible to those who may encounter visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities. A good place to start is by researching best practices for web users with disabilities. Simple ways to maximize the usability factor for web visitors with disabilities include controlling color schemes, using alt tags, and incorporating an accessibility guide on your pages.
- Another item to consider is storytelling. Collectively, your brand, narrative and certain user interface elements on your site all will come together to tell your company’s story and keep visitors engaged. Engagement is critical to keep an active audience, so don’t be afraid to experiment where possible. Try different themes or mixing up dynamic content. You can always run some testing during a soft launch to see what your audience prefers.
At the end of the day, there’s a lot more that goes into an effective website than simply reproducing a generic template. It’s not about reinventing the wheel, but rather innovating and improving upon a successful model. Hiring a web designer to customize your web presence is the best way to get the professional look and feel you’re shooting for, all while increasing engagement to help your brand flourish in the long run.
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