Best of the Best
- Keeping a strong user focus
Designing a site that is “cool” is great; but if it takes a considerable amount of time to load on a mobile device, then you aren’t doing yourself – or your users – any favors. With more and more clients and customers viewing sites on mobile devices, thinking up front about their experience on different screens is paramount. So what are a few ways you can enhance user experiences and boost conversion rates?
- Responsive design: Make sure you are either designing your site to be responsive to multiple platforms; or, build a specific mobile site to accompany the desktop version.
- Load times: Sometimes function over form just makes sense. Leveraging best practices such as optimizing your images, caching the latest version of your site and using a CDN can drastically cut down your load times
- Telling a story with visuals
Video is clearly a medium that users are consuming and reacting positively to when it comes to communicating a brand message, service offerings or product features. Infographics is another. Rather than listing statistics in traditional narrative form, you can really engage users through the use of infographics. These types of visuals get shared more often and are remembered by your viewers.Other visual strategies: Taking a user through a long “scroll” with the use of parallax can be a great way to unveil content and allow the designer to control the order in which the content is viewed. Also, animated gifs are a fun and easy way to show multiple steps in a process (for example, an assembly process) or a simple before/after scenario.The important takeaways here are this: Users tend to respond better to visual content, and when it comes to the use of copy, less is more.
- Using cinemagraphs
As designers seek new ways to differentiate their sites, cinemagraphs offer a unique experience for the user. The technology has been around since 2011, but it hasn’t yet been widely adopted. The technology marries still photography and video, enabling you to show subtle movement in a still image while keeping load times down. For some great examples, visit https://flixel.com/cinemagraphs/fresh/.
Out With the Old
Here are three dying trends that I believe will fade off into the sunset (if they haven’t already).
- Home page hero sliders
We’ve all used hero sliders – so much so that sites which still feature them now tend to look templated. If you are able to get away with a single strong image, or possibly a video to tell your brand story, it’s a better way to go. Also, based on user testing, people just aren’t spending the time to read through a handful of different messages on multiple slides. They want to find what they’re looking for, and find it fast.
- Heavy load times
- Stock photos
Let’s face it: Stock photos aren’t going away anytime soon. However I think we will see a growing trend to push more vector and hand-drawn illustration. You may find stock photos still used; but given their frequent usage (or overuse, depending on your perspective) through the years, you should consider modifying them so that they conform better to a company’s branding through color or other elements.Another trend that popped up recently: Stock photo sources pushing less “stocky” looking photos. This, I believe, will be a growing and much needed asset to designers who might not have sufficient budget or time for custom photography.