For today’s post on web design tips and trends, we’re bringing out the big guns. Meet Justin, Mikael, and Rebecca — Webs’ intrepid team of UI/Product Designers.
What do you think is the biggest trend in web design right now?
Mikael: Flat design is getting a lot of attention right now. That is, putting colors and images right up against each other without drop shadows, bevels, and gradients. Think Window 8 and Microsoft’s new look. While flat design can be really nice, it’s important to use it appropriately – as with any other design trend. Do not just follow a trend, but do what makes your website look best and communicate the message — and your brand – better.
What is one web design standard that stands the test of time?
Justin: We all agree that a grid system is massively important to all website design. Legible fonts and generous spacing are also at the very top of the list.
What are the 3 biggest mistakes you see people make when designing their own websites?
Rebecca: Lack of quality images. But there’s no need to hire a professional, you can take quality images yourself. There are tons of free tips and techniques on the internet to help with lighting, camera settings, etc. If you’re trying to sell something, spend the time to make your product look awesome and worth the price.
Mikael: Adding too much information. Most people scan a website and will not read big blocks of text, so it’s always a good idea to have your copy well organized and have key elements that you want your audience to see highlighted and easy to read.
Justin: Not starting with a plan. Before you even begin, write the copy, choose images you want to use, see what competitors are doing, and find ideas you like — then implement them when you build.
What is the best step-by-step process for designing your own website?
Justin: Browse competitors’ sites, or other sites you may admire. Decide what links you want in your main navigation, which will help you figure out content you’ll need. Gather ideas for content, like copy and pictures. Do some rough sketches of a layout. Start placing your content into a building tool matching the sketches you’ve made for yourself. Once the page layout looks the way you want it to, choose some colors and fonts that match your company’s style and brand.
Rebecca: Decide what message you want to convey to a visitor who may be there for less than 10 seconds. If the first thing on the top of your website was like a billboard on the highway, what would it show? It’s important to grab visitors’ attention first so they stay on your site, and then explain the rest of the details underneath.
What are your best sources for finding good images?
Justin: Having quality images of your shop or products is key. This will stand out to potential customers over anything else you can have on your site. If possible, have someone come take pictures for you. A lot of photographers-in-training would be willing to come set up for a day and take quality images for you at a reasonable price. Contact a local college and see if anyone is available.
If this isn’t an option and you’re willing to pay a couple of bucks for a nice image Stocksy and Shutterstock are good options. If you have a strict budget you could try out Flickr’s creative commons or stock.xchange.
How can small business owners best integrate their social media with their websites?
Rebecca: The social media management app Pagemodo will help develop your presence and visual brand identity in the social atmosphere. You can direct people to from your website to Facebook, and fans from Facebook back to your website. Pagemodo also allows you to schedule posts to your Facebook and Twitter accounts — showcase these posts on your website with social tools (like the ones in Webs’ builder), and your site will constantly be updated and current.
What advice do you have about mobile websites?
Justin: My most important piece of advice about mobile websites it to have one. More and more people are using their smartphone to browse webpages. Mobile sites are exactly the reason why “less is more” websites are becoming more popular. It’s easier to transfer a most efficient amount of content to a mobile-friendly layout.
Mikael: When designing for mobile, always remember the limited space you have to work with. If you are designing a responsive website, and have a lot of content, make sure to narrow down to only the important parts of your website.
What is your favorite of Webs’ SiteBuilder3 theme and why?
Rebecca: Organic White because of its simplicity.
Mikael: The Sports theme is one of my favorites. It offers an area for large beautiful images, and a lot of customization options. Although it is called “Sports”, it can be used for variety of businesses, apps, and product websites. The simple grid allows for an uncluttered and clean looking site.
Justin: Soft Light and Savvy are nice options, they’re definitely in my top choices.
What are some of your favorite places to find design inspiration? Also, what website designs do you admire?
Rebecca: I use Pinterest. Whenever I find inspiration or something I want to come back to later I pin it. Dribbble is also a great way to find inspiration, get feedback from other designers, and stay current with trends.
Name the 3 most important things small business owners can do to make their website look like it was designed by a pro:
1) Keep your color palette and font sizes consistent.
2) Keep elements on your site aligned with a grid.
3) Keep it simple. Only add things to a page when it makes sense.
Thanks to the Webs’ design team for taking the time to share some expert advice with us today!