Web design by its very nature continues to evolve, as it must, to make the most of modern browsers and the likes of HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery, and to provide a wonderful user experience for tablet and smartphone owners.
Nowadays there is plenty of opportunity to stand out from the crowd, by being ahead of the curve, or by embracing new techniques that can help you to improve the performance of your website.
So I thought I’d round up some of the more recent trends in experiential web design. I say ‘experiential’ because I’m less interested in seeing whether drop shadows have made a comeback.
The focus of this article is primarily about the aspects of web design that directly affect the user experience, rather than particular stylistic trends to do with the look and feel.
Great designers understand how to design for user interaction, and how to encourage new user behaviours and habits. World-class designers introduce emotion and have fun along the way.
Some of these trends aren’t just-out-of-the-oven new, but they’re in here because they’ve become adopted by the mainstream. I have included other design features because they rock, and I’d like to see them on more websites.
It’s worth pointing out that user experience professionals are on the fence about some of these things. Do leave a comment if you feel strongly, one way or another, and be sure to let me know what I’ve missed.
Due to the global appeal of the Premier League and the fact that most fans buy tickets online you would have thought that e-commerce was a valuable revenue earner for top flight football teams.
However a quick look at the homepages of the nation’s top clubs suggests that they don’t see UX as a top priority.
It would be easy to say that with the amount of money in football they should probably spend some of it on user-testing, but I’ll rise above that and instead I’ll simply point out some of the more obvious flaws that clubs should be looking to address.
For more information on the digital strategies of Premier League clubs, check out our blog which ranks the teams' search and social performances.
Last week Asda launched a new photo website claiming that it is “the easiest and most convenient to use in the United Kingdom.”
It sells a range of personalised products including canvases, pet beds, mugs and stationary.
Customers can upload images directly from their computer or social networks. So now any photos you’ve uploaded to Facebook, Picasa, Instagram or Twitter can be turned into a personalised dog’s bed.
Never one to turn down a challenge, I thought it would be interesting to test Asda’s claim that it’s the UK’s most user-friendly photo site and see if there were any glaring UX errors.
It is the little things in life that count, according to the old adage, and this is certainly true as far as user experience is concerned. The devil really is in the detail.
All too often some minor oversight on a website makes me furrow my brow, but more and more websites are taking a microscopic approach to user experience and interface design, and the results can be useful, amusing, fun, and functional.
I thought I’d share some of my favourites, as well as a bunch from Little Big Details, a fantastic website that collects these examples of smart user-focused design. It has hundreds to browse through, so if you're interested in UX design then do check it out.
I've always found it ironic that some of the most fancy hotels have some of the worst websites in the world. It's the same with restaurants. Both are long serving fans of Flash and autosound, and the result can be hellish.
If websites are particularly bad, and if I'm the one tasked with booking or buying something, then I can tell you for a fact that I will look elsewhere. The problem is that there isn't always an 'elsewhere'. Luxury brands pride themselves on their uniqueness, after all. If your better half wants some Jimmy Choo for her birthday then that's what you need to buy.
I've seen signs of improvement, especially in the restaurant sector, but many top class brands still have a lot of work to do.
Here are 17 examples of the kind of user experience issues that drive me mad, and which feel like a punch in the face when the brand in question charges a premium for the quality of its products and services.
Quiksilver recently revamped its European websites as part of what it calls “a very aggressive market expansion strategy”.
The sites, which were launched using Demandware, use a range of interactive and visual features that it claims offer an enhanced user experience.
But aside from all the new graphics, is the site actually easy to buy from?
We have previously flagged up ASOS as an example of shopping basket best practice, so using the same criteria I looked at how Quiksilver stacks up...
Why should we expect more from our usual social media mobile platforms? Well, why not?
Without feedback, preferences, and usage patterns, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare wouldn’t be connecting us on a daily basis.
In 2012 however, we should expect a contextual experience from these sites – desktop and mobile alike.
Lee Duddell is the Founder of WhatUsersDo, a UK based company that offers online user testing to customers including O2, Dixons, ASOS and Schuh.
For examples of these user testing videos, see the site reviews we have done of Four Seasons and the Thomas Cook tablet experience.
I've been asking Lee about the challenges of starting the company, the common user experience problems unearthed by testing, and how he sees the UX market developing in the next few years.
In the past year or so there has been a trend in web design towards the use of scrolling, which can help to engage visitors and provides a feeling of movement and animation.
These web pages are entirely static, and rely on the visitor to interact in order to generate the ‘movement’. Back in the day if you asked for this a developer would reach for Flash, but nowadays HTML5 (which has a <ParallaxScroll> tag), CSS3 and JQuery are usually employed to achieve scrolling effects.
I’ve collected a bunch of scrolling websites that are built with the arrow keys in mind. Some of these are more 'animated' than others, and some scrolling websites feel a little bit clunky, but all of them are interesting and creative web experiences.
I’m not yet convinced that scrolling is something that e-commerce companies should be embracing en masse, but it can certainly be used to support brand and product campaigns, given that the best examples are inherently narrative. Portfolio-based websites (such as the two agency sites I've featured) are another area where scrolling could come into play.
Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, keep those websites scrolling…
Four Seasons unveiled its new website earlier this month, with many eyebrows raised as a result of the reported $18m pricetag.
While this seems like a lot of money for a site relaunch, it is an international brand, and the $18m may cover more than just a redesign.
The important point is whether or not this website will help it achieve its aim of improving its online revenues, which currently stand at 12% of overall sales.
With the help of some user testing videos (kindly provided by whatusersdo), I've been looking at the user experience on the new Four Seasons site.
While the site contains some great imagery and content, there is plenty of room for improvement, and it's a big fail on accessibility...