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.
Given the popularity of infographics, you’d be wise to consider using them to help achieve your content marketing goals. They can be great for social sharing, blog fodder and inbound links.
The last time I created an infographic I used – wait for it - Microsoft Excel. Thankfully there are now some far better options, and they're surprisingly easy to use.
I have compiled five of online tools that will help you to create infographics. They’re all free, though some require registration (or to connect your Twitter or Facebook account) and most have the upgrade options.
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.
Twitter Search should be brilliant but the reality is that it pretty much sucks. I can only assume that the reason Twitter has limited the scope and functionality of its search tool is so that it can sell its data.
As such it has taken a third party called Topsy to create a ‘social search’ engine based on content posted to Twitter. It has been around for a little while, but I thought I’d give it some love because it has become my go-to place to unearth old tweets, and there are a few other things it can do too.
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.
Back in January Google wrote about the importance of the amount of visible content on a page once you click on a search result. Nobody likes having to scroll down just to be able to see the content you visited the page to see.
Google said: “As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.
“If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.”
Hell yeah, we thought. Enough with these sites that bombard visitors with ads and other above the fold rubbish.
Google added: “Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.”
As such, it is somewhat of an irony to look at Google’s own web pages, specifically those for high value search queries.
We’ve been blogging at Econsultancy for the past six years and it has been great for our company. I have long held the view that all businesses should have a blog.
Our blog now accounts for two thirds of site traffic and has claimed lots of valuable search placements on Google, which we’d otherwise have to buy. It also provides our social media manager with a bunch of fresh content to feed into the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
Furthermore, it has helped to grow awareness and perceptions of our brand, while establishing a warmer tone of voice than might otherwise be expected of a ‘consultancy’ (we’re actually a learning-based business, as opposed to an outright consultancy!).
When new writers start at Econsultancy I give them a handy cut out and keep list of blog post templates, which they can use for inspiration. Everybody gets writer’s block from time to time, and my checklist helps to provide a framework for the blog.
I have adapted these 34 ideas to make them less Econsultancy-centric, so that you can use them. I hope they prove helpful, whether you’re a writer, editor or content strategist.
I’ve touched upon this subject before but thought I’d compile a post specifically aimed at bloggers / writers / content creators.
Many brands are investing in content like never before. They use blogs and social networks to attract traffic, and to encourage people to share their posts.
So what do they need to think about to try to increase the amount of sharing on Twitter?
Following somebody on Twitter is always a small leap of faith. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, for whatever reason.
A couple of days ago I created an online poll to try to identify the common reasons for unfollowing people on Twitter.
More than 500 votes have since been cast and as such we can now start to analyse the results.
If you read my blog post about new tools for Twitter users then you may already be aware of Buffer, a fine productivity app that helps me to schedule the content I choose to share on Twitter. It's well worth a look.
I caught up with co-founder Leo Widrich, who focuses on customer experience and support at Buffer. He is also the marketing head who works on spreading the word about Buffer through blogging, social media and "other forms of hustle".