Web design trends come and go, and some of them stick around long enough to become rock-solid conventions.
As a web designer, I like to stay on top of the current thinking on how to deliver online content more beautifully, efficiently, and with the best results. So I go to the occasional webby Meetup to find out what my colleagues know about the state of web design.
Curb your user options
Don’t give users too many choices of what to read.
When it comes to menu tabs, four is the new seven. Apparently, seven was once the “magic number” for menus, but now the new magic number is three or four. It looks better and confuses the user less. Also, giant long footer menus are on the way out as are the amount of links in the footer in general.
On the other hand, if you are minimizing top menu links, where else should you put links to all your pages if not in the footer?
Overall, too many up-sell and cross-sell offers can overload readers with TMI (too much information), which may result in fewer conversions.
I totally agree with this point. The sites I’ve been seeing these days feel like crawling over broken glass just to read the content. Offers that come fast and thick just addle readers and drive them away.
Don’t do it!
Hold off on adding a menu icon shaped like a burger because it impacts user engagement. Apparently, clicking on something in order to bring up a menu to click on is too much to expect from people.
According to Graphically Speaking, hamburgers only get used 27% of the time, makes the task seem 21% harder, and slows users down by 39% on desktops as opposed to 15% on phones.
I don’t believe Hamburgers belong on desktop designs ever. Like never.
But how do you avoid them on mobile designs? On a phone, hamburgers are the best way to show a menu. Whatever horizontal menu of 4-7 tabs a site has is going to suck on a phone, so what other choice do we have?
Save your hamburgers for mobile.
While often a beautiful thing to behold, a parallax web design is not without a downside. All that sexy sliding around of images behind content may look impressive, but the data does not arrive easily in your browser.
Parallax design increases load speed and, according to GS, can damage your organic search engine rankings if you go for the one-page look. By doing that, you limit your use of meta data to only one URL and one H1 tag.
I recently used the parallax feature of Twenty-Seventeen for Howie Moscovitch’s minimalist website and am quite pleased with the result. What’s interesting about this theme is that it requires pages to build the parallax effect. Each image is the Featured Image of each page. The text come from the pages as well.
So, if you go with a parallax theme, be sure to have a good reason for it.
Test more, assume less
No matter what you think you know, you can always be proved wrong. The best way to know if a web design is successful is by testing, testing, and more testing.
Among the best tests are:
- Card sorting – where participants organize topics into categories that make sense to them
- Usability labs – where users are studied as they interacting with a system
- Google Optimize – offering online AB testing, website testing, personalization tools
- Multivariate testing – to determine what variations perform best
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