By John Eberhard
I have been doing a lot of web design projects lately. Every couple years, the typical, expected and common things to do, in designing a website, changes dramatically. Here’s an update.
- Websites Over 3-4 Years Old: If your website is over 3-4 years old, it’s time to take a look at re-designing it. Styles and approaches have changed a lot in just the last year.
- Width: Ten years ago, most sites were 800 pixels wide or less, because that fit the screen resolution of the computers that most people owned back then. Today, that has changed to the point where most sites are 1,000 to 1,200 pixels wide. If you have a site that is 700 or 800 pixels, it will look tiny on the screen today. But in the last year, the newest trend is to make the site go the entire width of the browser, regardless of the screen resolution of the computer. This trend seems to be gaining a lot of traction.
- Mobile Friendly: It is a must today for most businesses, to have a web site that is mobile friendly. This can be accomplished in one of two ways. You can make the site responsive, which means that it will respond to the size of the screen of the device. And for tablets or mobile phones, it will move site elements around so you just have to scroll down the screen, not from side to side. The other way is to make a specific version of the site for a mobile device, and then put code on the site that recognizes the type of device used, and serves up the right version. Either method works.
- Slide Shows: It has become very common over the past few years to put a slide show on the home page of the site, with 4-8 slides. Usually these are big pictures that go across the same width as the site. The Revolution slide show will go all the way across the width of the screen, for sites that go 100% width of the screen. Each slide can link to a different page on your web site.
- Contact Info: You should put your contact info on the site in such a way that it displays prominently on every page, either in the header at the top or in the sidebar. Don’t make people have to hunt for your contact info when they are ready to contact you. I am usually in favor of putting some kind of response form right in the sidebar, so it appears on every single page. Remember, you are not just out to make your site look great. You want people to respond.
- Social Media Links: It is common today to put links to all the major social media sites on a web site. It is a good idea to also put buttons allowing the person to like your Facebook page. And there is software that allows you to display the most recent activity you have posted to your Facebook page or to Twitter.
- Personalization: One mistake I see a LOT with some small businesses is to have a site with lots of information but no pictures of the business or personnel. You see with a lot of dentist web sites for instance. This is a mistake, because one of the things you are trying to do with any promotion is to differentiate yourself from the competition. Otherwise, why should they select you?
- Video: Having a video or several videos on your site can make a big difference. Having people see you, your company, your staff, your products, your customers, helps to make you more real to and more trusted by the prospect.
- Quality Design: The quality of the design is important, because that is the thing that the visitor first sees, and it is the quality of the design that will invite him in and get him to see more and read your message. This involves things like the color scheme (using colors that go well together and fit your topic), graphics, the fonts and size of the type, large photos, the placement of the various elements, etc. The competition in most industries today is fierce. A high end design will get your site noticed more, help you differentiate your business, and help you deliver your message.