Effective Ways to Handle Clients’ Web Design Expectations

Web Developer Job Description

Every web design agency needs to know how to manage their clients and their clients’ expectations successfully. Effective client management is at the core of every healthy and profitable business relationship. Why? It’s because satisfied clients will always seek more of your expertise, especially expertise that they can’t find from other suppliers.

This is not a discussion of what a client’s web design expectations are, but rather how these expectations can be effectively handled.

There are two types of clients:

  1. Those who provide the clearest briefs, appreciate the development team’s skills and recommendations, and even give a bonus when satisfied with the work. These clients know and acknowledge that they are not experts.
  2. Those who undervalue the expertise of the team, devalue the finished project to the point of requiring it to be reproduced from scratch because they do not know what they want exactly, and refuse to pay in the end. Their requests are endless and their approvals are inconsistent.

With that said, what clients expect for a web design project is probably the same as your own expectations. But since you are the expert, your number-one priority is making sure that you and your client are on the same page. Here’s how to do just that.

1. Address the Red Flags Early On

It’s rather easy to spot the red flags. The tricky part lies in correcting them to further guide the expectations of the client. When a client tells you, “The design is easy, it should only take three days at most,” tell him, “The team needs to look at the specifications first, and they will give you a timeline for that.”

If they ask, “You can make all the decisions for us, so we can focus on other things,” tell them, “No, this is your website, not ours. Your full commitment is needed.” Or, you can say, “We will send a progress report with all the notes about the project. We expect your feedback in 1 to 2 days.”

2. Provide Clear and Honest Answers

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At the start of any web design project, the client is sure to have plenty of questions. You need to answer those questions as truthfully as you can. Clients yearn for transparency right from the moment they started scouting for a provider. The more they know about the services and providers, the more they either narrow or widen their expectations.

Part of being honest involves telling a client that the features she wants do not add value to the site. When a client hears these things, the web development representative needs to offer alternative solutions appropriate for the client’s needs, preferences, and budget.

As the chosen provider, opt to educate the client whenever possible. Some clients asked for the craziest features because they don’t know any better. However, if you can guide them on what works on the Internet now and why their website must have this and that, do so. Explain the rationale behind every recommendation if you must. Prove your case by showing examples or statistics.

3. Build Trust and Confidence Ahead of Time

Whether the client used the contact form, phone, or email, the goal is to respond to the inquiry as fast as possible. That’s probably within 3 hours, definitely not after two days. Consider a canned reply to assure the client that his email message went through. There is no such thing as over-communication in the business world.

Your openness is integral to the trust-building process. It’s not just about the way you answer their questions, but also the quality of your answers. While at it, it would be nice to provide some background on how the team works, the composition of the team, how milestones are set, etc. This helps in managing their expectations in a much better way.

4. Put Everything Into Writing

Matters discussed in meetings must be put into writing. This includes things that are not included in the specifications, proposal, project scope, and contract. These are the things you can refer back to–your assurance–if the relationship turns sour. For instance, all the additional features would incur an extra cost. Additional works not included in the scope entail a signed request if necessary.

In the same vein, the deliverable, time frames, deadlines, milestones, KPIs, and feedback must be documented appropriately. The agreed outcomes should be put on paper also. All these keep the vagueness of expectations at bay while allowing you to justify additional costs if there would be any in the future.

5. Communicate Everything

Communication is the key to the kind of relationship that both clients and providers strive for in the first stages of the project. Agreeing on specific aspects of the project, including pricing, modes of payment, reporting, etc., is paramount to ensure that both understand what they are responsible for and what they can expect from the project and the processes involved.

Throughout the project, the company representative, which is usually an account executive or project coordinator, must communicate with the client by email, phone, or in-person if there are any challenges. This is mainly for issues that may affect the deliverables and on-time delivery of the project. This, too, must be included in the contract.

There are instances when approvals would take weeks when they should only be completed in 3 days. Setbacks are inevitable, but both parties must understand the reason behind their occurrence, so they won’t blame one another once their expectations are not met.

Staying in constant touch does not only guarantee a smooth sailing project. It is also an opportunity to speak about the project more when something’s not right. Things may not always go as planned, but addressing them is necessary. Tell the client if you have any concerns.

Under Promise and Over Deliver

How To Hire A Reliable Web Designer

Meeting the clients’ expectations is your goal, but you can always go beyond those expectations. What you promised is the bare minimum expected from you. If you can throw in a few freebies such as doing minimal additional works or completing the task a week ahead of the deadline, the better the business relationship will be.

As such, if you want to keep a client and keep meeting their expectations of a project, you need to exert time and effort also. Be the prudent web design and development company that you are so that you keep on winning more business.

Find a Website Designer: 9 Tips for Finding the Best Website Designer

Did you know 38 percent of visitors stop engaging with a site if the content or layout is not attractive to the user?

If you want to keep leads on your site, you must invest in your website’s design. To have a quality website, find a website designer that can create a dream website for your business.

In this post, we’ll tell you why you should find website designers and nine tips for finding the right local web designer for your business.

And don’t forget, whether you need web design services in Washington D.C., or a web designer in Tampa, WebFX has got you covered.

Why should I find a website designer?

You’re ready to start building your company’s website, but how do you know if you should find local web designers?

Check out these four signs that you should find a website designer.

1. You don’t have time to build your own website

Web design is time-consuming. It takes time to develop a website to drive impactful results for your business. You need to invest in creating your customized design that makes your business stand out from the competition.

If you don’t have the time to invest in your website’s design, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to attract leads to your business. People will be turned away from your website if it isn’t visually appealing.

You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to drive valuable traffic to your site. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to building your website, you can rely on a website designer to help you build your dream website.

If you find a website developer, they will have the time to dedicate to building your dream website. You won’t have to worry about finding time in your busy schedule to build your website right.

2. You don’t have experience building a website

Your website is a crucial part of your business. It’s important that you put in the time to create an awesome website for your business. If you don’t have any experience building a custom website, it can be difficult to build an effective website that drives results.

It isn’t enough to just build a website and hope it drives results for your business. You must put thought into constructing your site and think about how each element impacts the user and their experience. If you don’t have experience building a website, you may not know how to create the best version of your site that drives results.

If you find local web designers, they will have experience building websites that drive impactful results. They will know how to build different elements on your website and will know how those elements impact your audience.

3. You don’t know how to drive results with your website

It isn’t uncommon for businesses to have a starting point for their website. You may have a vision or some idea of what you want your site to look like, but you may not know everything you need for your site to drive the best results.

Different elements on your site can add a different experience for your audience. Something as simple as adding a video or a certain call-to-action (CTA) button can impact how your audience experiences your site. If you don’t know everything you need for your site, you can find a website developer to help you figure out what you need for your website.

By finding a local website designer, you’ll partner with an expert that can help you figure out what you need for your site. They can take your basic plan and ideas and execute them for you, providing guidance along the way. This ensures that you get the best website that drives impressive results for your business.

4. You want a website that stands out from the competition

When you’re building your dream website, you want it to stand out from the competition. It’s important that you have a unique website to create a memorable experience for your audience.

If you build your website on your own, you may rely on a template website builder to create your site. While these template builders make it easy for you to build your site, they don’t help your site stand out from your competition. You will blend in with hundreds of other sites that have the same templates as you.

You want your website to stand out from the competition. If you find a website designer, they can help you create a fully-customized website that is unique to your business. You will have a site that stands out from the competition and brings a unique experience for your audience.

How do I find a website designer?

Now that you know why you should hire a website developer, your next step is to find the best web design companies for your business.

Here are nine ways to help you find the right web design company for your business.

1. Set a budget for your website design

If you haven’t thought about how much you’re willing to spend on web design, this should be your first step when looking for a website designer. There’s no such thing as industry standard pricing for how much a website should cost, so you need to have a good idea of what your upper limit is.

The size of your budget determines both what level of web design you want and where you’ll get it from. Once you’ve established a tentative budget, you‘ll have a better idea of what results to expect, and where you might go for your design work.

2. Choose what kind of designer you want to hire

Web design is a very saturated industry. This is good for you as a business owner or marketer because you have a lot of room to find the perfect fit for your project.

Here are the most common providers of web design services:

The freelancer

Web design is filled to the brim with freelancers of varying capabilities. Freelancers will generally be the cheapest option, excluding certain well-known designers that are constantly sought after.

Working with a freelancer is usually more of an informal process, which is both good and bad. Good freelancers will be communicative, accommodating, and adhere to typical turnaround times on design work.

On the other hand, there are plenty of unprofessional freelancers that will do just the opposite.

The design agency

Agencies that specialize in web design are made up of small-medium-sized design teams that work together on client projects.

Design agencies will usually be more expensive than freelancers because you’re paying for pooled expertise. Professional design agencies offer frequent communication, extreme customization, and quick turnaround times.

The full-service agency

As the name implies, a full-service digital marketing agency does web design alongside things like SEOPPC advertising, and more. Full-service agencies are more expensive than freelancers, and may or may not be more expensive than specialized design agencies.

Full-service agencies are a great bet if you think you’ll be interested in digital marketing services beyond just web design. All of the specialized teams within these agencies work closely together so that communication is simple and the final result will be cohesive.

3. Look at their portfolio

The first step to finding the best web design companies is looking at their portfolio. You want to see if they have experience with your industry. Looking at their portfolio gives you great insight into a website development company.

You can see if a website developer has experience with your industry. If they do, you can look at examples of websites they’ve designed for companies similar to yours. It’s a great way to get insight into a company to see how they produce designs for your industry and if you like their designs.

If they don’t have experience with your industry, you can still look at their portfolio to see their design style. It’s a great way to understand a company’s design style and see if it fits with what you like.

Taking a look at a web designer’s portfolio will help you see what they can potentially create for you.Check out these swoon-worthy web design trends for 2020

4. Read client testimonials

The next step is to look at client testimonials. Client testimonials give you insight into a company and the type of work they do for their clients. When you aren’t familiar with a website developer, client testimonials, as well as reviews, help you see if a web design company will provide you with great services.

Companies that have dozens of client testimonials typically provide great service for their clients. People are happy to talk about the positive experience they have with a company. When dozens of people are sharing that same positive experience, it’s a good sign that a web design company is a good company.

5. Check out pricing

Your budget is an important part of your business. You want to find a web design company that you can afford. By checking out the pricing for website designers, you can see who will work with your budget.

This can be a tricky task because it’s hard to pinpoint an exact price for building a website. The cost depends upon what you need on your site. Someone who needs a simple site will pay less than someone who needs an in-depth website.

Many companies don’t publish their prices online, either. Companies want you to contact them to get their pricing. This makes it challenging for you to price compare and see which company fits your needs and budget best.

When you’re looking to find a website designer, look for any indication of the online pricing. Some companies may offer a website design cost calculator, which allows you to input what you need for your site. You input the information and see the approximate cost for your website.

6. See if they offer additional services

When you try to find a website developer, you want to see if they offer additional services.

As you build your customized site, you may find that you’re going to different services. You may need search engine optimization (SEO) to promote your website or copywriting to create content for your website.

You want to find a website designer that offers more than just web design. Look for a full-service company that provides other services. It’s a great way to keep your campaign cohesive and all in one place.

By looking for a full-service digital marketing agency, you’ll get everything you need in one place.

7. Ask lots of questions about the web designer’s process

Many aspects of web design can be hard to understand if you’re not familiar with the industry.

The very best agencies and freelancers will have no problem sitting down and explaining exactly what they do, how they do it, and why it’s beneficial to your business.

If they’re using terminology you’re unfamiliar with and spouting wild promises, tell them to slow down and explain in more detail. Failure to do so is a big indicator that you should be cautious moving forward with that specific web design option.

Ambiguity, in general, is a red flag, and can be indicative of rushed work, “one size fits all” solutions, and shady sales tactics.

8. Request references

Ideally, you want to ask for references within the same industry as you. They can relate directly to the type of work you want done, and will give you the inside scoop on whatever agency or freelancer you’re currently vetting.

You should be immediately wary of any web design prospect that can’t provide you with a reference list upon request.

9. Shop around and find multiple web designers

Don’t let a potential agency or freelancer pressure you into signing a contract right away. This is your money and your website, after all, and there’s no reason to feel bad about thoroughly exploring all of your potential design options. Spend time looking for a web designer and you will find a good web designer and developer for your business.

Most web designers will happily give you a free quote or free consultation, and you should take advantage of every offer. This will give you a more comprehensive idea of what work is necessary to meet your vision, and how much it will cost you when everything’s said and done.

High-pressure sales tactics, constant upselling, and pushy behavior are never promising signs when it comes to high-quality web design.

Where to find a web designer

If you’re looking for a web designer, you’re probably wondering where to find a web designer.

You have a few options of places to look, including:

  • Hiring sites: Use websites like Upwork to find freelance web designers.
  • Search engines: Use search engines like Google to discover freelance web designers, as well as web design agencies.
  • Review sites: Use review sites, like Clutch, to find web design agencies, plus view agency pricing, reviews, and work.

Don’t forget to look around you when wanting to hire a web designer, though. Friends, colleagues, and other people in your professional network can provide recommendations. Their suggestions can make your life easier, saving you the time and hassle of finding and reviewing dozens of options.

Find your ideal website designer today

Your website’s design is a crucial part of your business. If you want to attract leads to your page and keep them engaged, you must invest in your website’s design. To get an impactful website that will drive traffic for your business, you must find your ideal website designer.

Learn about our web design services
Learn about our web design services

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At WebFX, we have over 20 years of experience creating customized websites that our clients love. Our team at WebFX can help you create a fully-customized website that works for your business. If you’re looking to create a website fast, we can create one in as little as 30 days with our RainmakerFX services.

If you’re ready to start creating your customized website, contact us online to see how we can help you build a beautiful custom website.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Web Design

If you design websites, you know that making your designs useful and enjoyable is your top priority. Even with the best web design software at your fingertips, it can be an overwhelming task for anyone who just recently started creating websites, so to simplify it, I’ve created a simple list of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when designing your next web design project.

First, the do’s

1. Keep your interface consistent

One of the top principles of good UX is to keep the interface consistent throughout the entire product. The overall look and feel of your website should be consistent across all of your site’s pages. Consistency of navigation, color schemes, typefaces, and style of writing can have a positive impact on usability and UX.

Practical tip: Make design usable first. Consistency is a double-edged sword. If your website isn’t designed correctly at first, then to make other parts of it consistent will result in consistently poor design. Thus, make the design usable first, then make it consistent.

2. Design easy-to-use navigation

Navigation is the cornerstone of usability. It’s the main interaction technique on the Internet. Having good website navigation is crucial for ensuring that visitors can find what they’re looking for.

Practical tips:

  • Keep top-level navigation for the essential navigation options. Limit your top-level navigation links to a maximum of seven choices ━ the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2 ━ and create sub-navigation with clear categorization.
  • Use clear labels for navigation options. Use familiar words for menu options to help visitors understand them better.
  • Reduce the amount of time required for users to get to the destination. Design your navigation in a way that gets visitors where they want to go with the least number of clicks possible. When designing a website, remember the three-click rule, which says that your viewers should never be more than three clicks away from what they are looking for.
  • Include navigation options in the footer of your site. A footer is a place where visitors expect to find navigation options and contact information.

3. Change the color of visited links

Links play a vital role in the navigation process. When visited links don’t change color, users could unintentionally revisit the same pages repeatedly. Knowing your past and present locations makes it easier to decide where to go next.

4. Make it easy to scan your pages

When users visit your site they are more likely to quickly scan the page rather than read everything on it. For example, when visitors want to find specific content or complete a certain task, they will scan a website’s pages until they find what they are looking for. And you, as a designer, can help them with that by designing a good visual hierarchy. Visual hierarchy refers to the arrangement or presentation of elements in a way that implies importance ━ e.g. where the eyes should focus first, second, etc.

Practical tips:

  • Avoid walls of text. Chunk your information into groups to make it easier to digest visually. Breaking walls of text by headers or bullet points.
  • Put more visual weight on important elements. Make important elements such as call-to-action buttons or login forms focal points so visitors see them right away. You can emphasize elements using different sizes or colors.
 Mailchimp makes the most important information on a page ━ call-to-action buttons ━ stand out.
Do. Mailchimp makes the most important information on a page ━ call-to-action buttons ━ stand out.
  • Consider natural scanning patterns. People in the Western world usually read left to right and from top to bottom. A design that goes against this pattern will present a learning curve for your visitors. Well-designed websites typically lay out their content in a  “F” reading shape or “Z” reading shape.
  • Stick to a grid layout. A grid layout allows you to organize information in a way that makes it easier for visitors to read and comprehend information presented on the page.
 Use grid layout when designing web experiences.
Do. Use grid layout when designing web experiences.

5. Take content seriously

Copy is just as important as the design of your website. More than 95 percent of information on the web is in the form of written language. Even if your site is beautifully designed, it’s no more than an empty frame without good content; a good website has both great design and great content. A designer’s job is to make sure that the design aids and complements the content.

Practical tips:

  • Make sure the text on the website is relevant. Irrelevant text doesn’t bring any value for your visitors and might easily confuse them. Strive to create copy where each line of text will be valuable for your visitors.
  • Avoid jargon. The information written on your website should be as simple and as plain as possible for easy comprehension. A safe bet is to write for all levels of readers by picking words that are clearly and easily understandable to everybody.

6. Check your website for errors

A great piece of work can be easily tarnished by a small error. Here are a few common problems to be aware of:

  • Watch out for dead links. A user can easily become frustrated when they click a link on a site and receive a 404 error page in response.
  • Check your website for typos.
  • Make sure all media content is loading correctly ━ no broken images or videos.

7. Minimize the number of choices

The number of choices people have affects their decisions; the more choices they have, the less action they take. When you present your user with too many options, you make them think too much. To increase chances for interaction, it’s better to minimize the number of choices.

 Facebook uses a step-by-step process when asking personal information.
Do. Facebook uses a step-by-step process when asking personal information.

8. Engage users to scroll

Scrolling sends users deeper into the page and makes them invest more time in the experience, and this increases the chance that users will convert ━ e.g. buy something, sign up for a newsletter, or contact you. Despite that people usually start scrolling as soon as the page loads, content at the top of the page is still very important. What appears at the top sets the impression and expectation of quality for visitors. People do scroll, but only if what’s above the fold is promising enough.

Practical tip: Content at the top of the page sets initial expectations. If a page provides users with high-quality content, they are willing to browse for more content.

9. Label buttons according to what they do

The label on any actionable interface element should always tie back to what it will do for the user. Users will feel more comfortable if they understand what action a button triggers. Vague labels such as “Submit” or abstract labels like in the example below don’t provide enough information about the action.

 Don’t. Make people wonder what an interface element does. Credited to UXMatters
Don’t. Make people wonder what an interface element does. Credited to UXMatters
 Do. Make it clear what will happen when users click a UI element.
Do. Make it clear what will happen when users click a UI element. “Claim Your Free Trial” is a clear label for a sign up form. Credited to Treehouse

10. Make things look like they work

With buttons and other interactive elements, think about how the design communicates affordance. Remember the old adage “form follows function”: the way an object looks tells users how to use it. Visual elements that look like links or buttons, but aren’t clickable ━ such as underlined words that aren’t links, or elements that have a rectangular background but aren’t buttons ━ can easily confuse users.

 Don’t. Is the orange box in the top-left corner of the screen a button? No, but the shape and label make the element look like one.
Don’t. Is the orange box in the top-left corner of the screen a button? No, but the shape and label make the element look like one.

11. Make your website responsive

Today there are more than 5 billion devices running web browsers. This means that visitors can come to your site from various devices such as a desktop, tablet, phone, music player, or even a watch. A big part of UX design is ensuring that no matter how the visitor sees your site, all vital information will be displayed correctly on different screen sizes.

 Designers have to adapt their designs to various screen sizes. No matter how big a screen is — from a phone to a watch, or a tablet to a desktop — the site should present information in a clear way.
Do. Designers have to adapt their designs to various screen sizes. No matter how big a screen is — from a phone to a watch, or a tablet to a desktop — the site should present information in a clear way.

Practical tips:

  • Make essential information easily findable. Unlike desktop users, when browsing mobile, users are looking for something specific such as contact information or the cost of a product they want to buy. Make this info impossible to miss.
  • Size interactive elements according to the screen. Since mobile users scroll and tap with their fingers, you may need to increase the size of interactive elements, such as buttons.

12. Test your design

You may have a design that you think is fantastic, but without feedback from real users, you’ll never know how effective it is. You need to see how users react to it. Even if you can get one or two real unbiased users to interact with your website and share their thoughts with you, it will provide you with many helpful insights that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Practical tip:  Keep an eye on analytics. Web analytics are powerful tools that can help you find areas on your website that require additional attention.

Now, the don’ts

1. Don’t make users wait for content to load

Loading time is extremely important for user experience. As technology progresses, we get more impatient, and today, 47 percent of users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. If a web page takes more time to load, visitors might become frustrated and leave the site. That’s why speed should be a priority when building a web application.

 The faster your site, the better experience is
The faster your site, the better experience is. Image by Google.

Practical tips:

  • Avoid blank pages during loading. When loading takes some time, consider displaying a part of the content together with some form of visual feedback ━ such as a loading indicator.
  • Optimize images. Images,  especially large background images, can take a lot of time to load. You can significantly reduce the loading time by optimizing your images.
  • Measure your website’s current performance. Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Think With Google tools not only help you identify performance problems on your website, but they will also propose solutions to certain problems.

2. Don’t open internal link in new tabs

Users expect different behavior from internal and external links. All internal links should open in the same tab; this way, you’ll allow users to use the “back” button. If you decide to open external links in a new window, you should provide an advanced warning before automatically opening a new window or tab. This might take the form of text added to the link text stating. “opens in a new window”.

3. Don’t use too many typefaces

When you start building a site, it’s always tempting to use a lot of different typefaces ━ five or six different fonts or even upload your own. But, it’s better to avoid that temptation. Too many variations in font types can be distracting, confusing, and borderline annoying.

 Don’t. Too many fonts can conflict with each other and overwhelm your visitors.
Don’t. Too many fonts can conflict with each other and overwhelm your visitors.

A common recommendation is to use a maximum of three different typefaces in a maximum of three different sizes. When designing a website think about how can you make the typography powerful by playing with weight, not different fonts.

4. Don’t use too many colors on your website

Similar to typefaces, it’s better to avoid using too many colors in design. Applying color to a design has a lot to do with balance, and, the more colors you use, the harder it is to achieve balance. Using too many colors in design is like trying to convey a million feelings and messages at once, which can confuse the person viewing your design.

 Don’t. Use too many colors in design.
Don’t. Use too many colors in design. Image by Pine-Sol.

It’s always better to keep the color scheme limited to a few colors and keep it consistent across your site, unless you want to highlight some important section using color.

Practical tip: Think about emotions you want to evoke from your visitors. Knowing what feelings you want to convey can help you choose the proper color scheme. For example, if you promote meditation products on your website, you won’t want a bright and loud color scheme.

5. Don’t show automatic pop-ups too early

A lot of websites show pop-up boxes with a request to subscribe as soon as you arrive on the page. As a designer, showing pop-up windows is probably one of the most annoying things you can do to someone visiting your website. Pop-ups are interruptive by nature, and, since they are typically used to show ads, users often close them even before reading the content.

 Don’t. The first thing people see when they visit The New York Times website is a popup with promo ad.
Don’t. The first thing people see when they visit The New York Times website is a popup with promo ad.

Practical tip: Time your pop-ups. Before asking visitors to do something, you need to show how you can deliver value. Prevent the box from popping up until visitors reach the end of the page ━ i.e. read all content ━ or stay on the site for some time.

6. Don’t use generic photos of people

Images with human faces are a very effective way to get your users engaged. Our brains are predisposed to pay attention to faces. When we see faces of other humans it makes us feel like we are actually connecting with them, and not just using a product.

However, many corporate sites are notorious for their over-use of insincere photography, which is employed to “build trust.” Usability tests show that purely decorative photos rarely add value to the design and often harm the user experience.

 Don’t. Inauthentic images leave the user with a sense of shallow fakery.
Don’t. Inauthentic images leave the user with a sense of shallow fakery.

7. Don’t let promotion steal the show

Having too many promotions or ads on a page can easily overshadow the main content and make it harder for users to accomplish tasks. If you have too many ads on the page, they’ll all be competing to get your readers to look at them. This will result in a sensory overload that will ultimately increase your bounce rates. It’s also important to acknowledge that anything that looks like an advertisement is usually ignored by users ━ the phenomenon is known as banner blindness.

 Don’t. Ads can distract visitors from the main content and undermine a design.
Don’t. Ads can distract visitors from the main content and undermine a design.

8. Don’t play background music or autoplay videos with music

While background music might work in specific cases, like a promo website, it is simply a bad idea for most websites. Unexpected music or sound can annoy and potentially cause problems ━ people might be visiting your site at work, in a public place, or near someone who’s sleeping, and unexpected music could send such visitors away in an instant.

Similar to background music, autoplay videos incorporated into a block of content also irritate users. They should be used sparingly and only when appropriate and expected.

Practical tip: Put users in control. Set music to mute by default, but allow them to turn it on if they click ━ design play/pause buttons for your audio content.

 Facebook videos are set to autoplay, but no sound will play unless users show that they’re watching the video ━ i.e. by interacting with the video.
Do. Facebook videos are set to autoplay, but no sound will play unless users show that they’re watching the video ━ i.e. by interacting with the video.

9. Don’t hijack scrolling

Scroll hijacking is when designers manipulate the scrollbar to behave differently on their website. Hijacked scrolling is very annoying for many users since it takes control away from them and makes scrolling behavior completely unpredictable. When you design a website, it’s better to avoid scroll hijacking and let the user control their browsing and movement through the site.

 Tumblr’s signup page uses scroll hijacking.
Don’t. Tumblr’s signup page uses scroll hijacking.

10. Don’t use horizontal scroll

In order to stand out, some designers use horizontal scrolling on their sites. Unfortunately, horizontal scrolling is one of the few interactions that consistently generates negative responses from users. Users often have no idea they can discover content by scrolling horizontally — most of the users are accustomed to scrolling down on websites and don’t usually look left and right. As a result, they simply ignore content accessible through horizontal scrolling.

Web Design Process at RubyGarage in 4 Simple Steps

To design websites your users will love, it’s essential to know what every phase of web design entails. A properly structured web design process can not only help you create intuitive products but can improve collaboration between you and your design team. In this blog post, we take you behind the scenes to see the web design process at RubyGarage.

So, the web design process at RubyGarage includes four major phases: project discovery, ideation and information architecture, user interface design, and testing and evaluation after launch. Let’s go deeper into what each phase includes and what deliverables you’ll get. 

Phase 1: Project Discovery

Project Discovery starts with defining the project. At this phase, our design team and business analyst conduct a kick-off meeting and other activities to find existing problems and solutions in your particular niche or industry, define your product’s unique value proposition, and learn about your customer segments. Based on this information, our business analyst creates a Lean Canvas to validate your business idea and avoid risks. 

Evaluating a business idea is vital both for a business owner and development team. It allows to get a full vision of a startup idea, create proper design and development strategies, and deliver a product the market really needs.

Dmytro Valchuk, RubyGarage Business Analyst

At this phase, we also conduct competitor analysis to find any basic and desirable features for your product. Data gathered during this phase helps us set project goals and define the project strategy. After that, our team proceeds to the Design Discovery stage. 

Design Discovery is a service that helps businesses and the design team clearly define project requirements and major technological drivers to achieve particular business goals. The main goal of the Design Discovery stage is to establish key project priorities that will guide the team through the entire design and development life cycle. Design Discovery usually involves the product owner, UX lead, business analyst, and technical lead.

At RubyGarage, we believe that the perfect product design can’t be achieved without preliminary research. That’s why we pay a lot of attention to Design Discovery. We start this process with this stage, getting a deep understanding of your business idea, values, and goals. We conduct a series of workshops within our team to define the main project requirements and create a project plan based on business goals and needs. After we’ve approved a project plan and other documentation with all stakeholders, our team moves to the Analysis & Research stage. At this stage, our business analyst together with a UX designer take the following actions to ensure your product is viable and has a competitive advantage:

  • Analyze project requirements
  • Define the target audience
  • Analyze the market and competitors 
  • Conduct UX research on competitors
  • Research design best practices
Web design process in action
Capturing a moment during research

Why is Design Discovery important?

You might have wondered why you can’t skip this stage and move directly to design. Poor design planning and choices can cost your business much more time and resources than conducting Design Discovery. This stage can prevent some drastic mistakes in the design of the product by:

  • Helping you understand the core problem a design has to solve
  • Aligning project goals and the needs of all stakeholders
  • Facilitating development
  • Building trust within the team
  • Learning major risks and assumptions

A deep understanding of a project’s goals is key to successful design and development. That’s why Design Discovery is a must before deciding on product design solutions.

Ivan Martynenko, RubyGarage Design Lead

What do you get?

By conducting Design Discovery, you get the following deliverables:

  • Established communication plan
  • Defined value chain
  • User personas
  • Feature breakdown list
  • Audit of existing functionality

Phase 2: Ideation, information architecture, and prototyping

What is it?

By this phase, designers are ready to generate ideas and turn them into prototypes. Based on our research findings, we generate as many design ideas as possible to decide on the best one. 

After that, our UX designer creates an Information Architecture (IA). An IA efficiently defines the structure of the product. The main idea behind this process is to arrange product components so users can understand how to use the product at a glance. At this phase, we create navigation labels, build a site map, and define a clear taxonomy of design. Based on the site map, our designer creates wireframes and prototypes. Wireframes are visual guides that show the organization of a website or app pages. A prototype demonstrates the design of the product itself. Wireframes and prototypes are major components of any website, allowing you to see how it’s organized and how it will function

Website design planning session
Brainstorming in action.

Information Architecture is important since it makes complex products clear. Our actionable insights and recommendations at the IA stage help clients meet business and user needs and maintain product consistency.

Valery Nasikan, RubyGarage UI/UX Designer

Why is Information Architecture important?

The importance of Information Architecture can hardly be overstated. Proper IA helps you avoid navigation and usability issues and maintain product consistency. A properly structured and search engine optimized IA guarantees a product’s long-term success. Here are other benefits of IA for businesses:

  • Better knowledge of the context of existing content
  • Lower production costs due to increased content reusability
  • Simplified web design processes
  • More options to expand to new markets

What do you get?

You’ll get the following deliverables from our Information Architecture service:

  • Content inventory
  • Recommended site map
  • User flows
  • Wireframes and prototype

Phase 3: User interface design

What is it?

User interface (UI) design is about creating visual components of a website. Solid UI design is not only about visual appeal; it also has a great impact on user acquisition and retention. Our UI design solutions establish your brand identity, making your product stand out. The process of UI design at RubyGarage looks like this:

  • We start the UI design process by defining the visual direction and layout. Our UI/UX designer decides on a preliminary product structure and considers what guidelines to follow. 
  • After that, we conduct a series of interviews with you to establish a visual language according to your business needs. 
  • Based on this information, our designer will create mockups and any other graphics (icons, banners, illustrations, animations, etc.) required for the visual language. The UI designer will also create a reference guide and comprehensive style for the project, which allows us to increase the speed of development and maintain visual consistency.
UI design is one of the key design process steps
Just a glimpse of how we create our Dribbble shots

Why is UI design important?

User interface design is important for any digital product since the UI draws visitors’ attention and keeps them engaged with your website or app. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, a great UI should be responsive and efficient. 

If a product has an attractive interface, it has a much better chance to turn visitors into customers. At RubyGarage, we believe the perfect UI is a blend of information architecture, visual design, and interaction design. 

What do you get?

At the UI design phase, we deliver the following:

  • Moodboard
  • Mockups for all resolutions 
  • Interactive prototypes
  • UI assets (icons, banners, patterns)
  • Illustrations
  • Animation and interaction assets
  • Design specification (style guide, UI kit)

Want to make your product’s design stand out? Check out our web design workflow and services.

Phase 4: Testing and evaluation

At the last phase of the web design process, we pay maximum attention to various tests. When the whole design of the product is ready, that means it’s time to make sure the product works as intended and properly. 

At this phase, a UI/UX designer and QA specialist test the product to find any inconsistencies or bugs and provide feedback. In addition, we conduct user testing and gather data from these tests to learn how users interact with the product. If there are any inconsistencies in user behavior, we use this data to start new iterations and make the required fixes. 

Our website design process
Our QA Engineers and UX Designers work closely to deliver the products that work as expected

Summing up

Now you know what’s under the hood of our outstanding design solutions. Our approach, with thorough preliminary research and continuous testing, allows us to build complex products that cover all business and user needs. 

Skills Every Successful Web Designer Needs — And How To Learn Them

If you’re a beginner in tech, it can be tough to figure out where to start. There are so many paths available to you — from web development to web design to digital marketing, and every specialization under the sun. Web design is often a great place to dive in if you’re new to the scene, but the question is: how to become a web designer?

Like many roles in tech, becoming a web designer requires both the creative and analytical sides of your mind. Web design is a versatile career with lots of opportunities to niche down or course-correct once you discover exactly what you love.

How to Learn Web Design: What Are The Tech Skills You Need to Know to Become a Web Designer?

First, let’s go over the technical side of becoming a web designer.

1. VISUAL DESIGN

What Does a Web Designer Do?

It might seem obvious that you need design knowledge to be a web designer, but what exactly does that mean? Well, web design is actually a subset of the larger field of visual design, so it makes sense to start there.

At Skillcrush, we teach visual design because it focuses on digital products and sets you up to succeed across design careers, including web design. When you learn visual design, you learn the fundamental design principles you need to be a web designer.

📌 Related: What is Visual Design? Graphic Design, UI Design, Web Design — What’s the Difference?

Design principles are what determine the look and feel of a site, and are one of the most important concepts for web designers to know. They can range from proportions, to typography, to grid systems, to color theory. Learning visual design means creating mood boards and type hierarchy and experimenting with web fonts and color palettes.

2. UX

UX stands for user experience, or how people feel (calm, frustrated, etc.) when they use a website. Above all else, UX design is about approaching your designs from a user-friendly and user-first perspective — how can you produce a website design that helps them get exactly what they need?

To do that, you’ll research your users and create “personas” (profiles of imaginary ideal users). You’ll lay out the pages and content with a site map. You’ll figure out the path users take on your site in user flows. For example, do they always click straight through to social media? Or are they just looking for contact information? You’ll use responsive design to account for different screen sizes and improve functionality for all users, regardless of device.

As a UX designer, you’ll build wireframes and use prototyping and templates to sketch out the key parts of each webpage, including the user interface. All of these components are essential to practicing user experience design.

Note: Skillcrush also has a UX add-on course that you can purchase with our Break Into Tech course.

3. GRAPHIC DESIGN AND WEB DESIGN SOFTWARE

Like any craftsperson, as a web designer, to do your work, you need the right tools. Knowing your way around web design and graphic design industry standards will be helpful in every case and critical in many. While designing a website can be done right in a web browser, tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketch are used in graphic design and web design for important job functions: creating mockups, designing assets (think logos and images), and of course, modifying and enhancing photos.

You should learn how to use them (although, if you’re just getting started, consider trying out a few free Adobe Photoshop alternatives instead).

4. HTML

Wait, to become a web designer, do you need to know how to code? You might not have imagined that web designers would need to know any code, but some amount of technical skills is necessary — a little familiarity with HTML and CSS is expected for most design jobs nowadays. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, which is the programming language used to put content on a web page and give it structure on the front end. That means it’s how you turn a bunch of words into headlines, paragraphs, and footers. And it’s also how you get the “cool” content like photos, videos, and graphics on a website.

5. CSS

And then there’s HTML’s partner, CSS or Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is a coding language that tells browsers how to format and style HTML for a web page. In other words, it’s what makes all the text and other content look good and have a design. With CSS, you can adjust the colors, change the fonts, or add a stunning background — and so much more! This is where your eye for design really shines and how you can put your creative stamp on every site you create.

Pro tip: If you want to start learning web design for free, HTML & CSS are great skills to start with. We’ve got our free coding camp if you’re ready right here and now. Otherwise, take a look at our roundup of free resources for learning to code.

📌 Related: These Are the Jobs You Can Get with Just HTML and CSS

BONUS! JAVASCRIPT

While you can code up your designs using just HTML and CSS, if you can also program using JavaScript, you’ll have a huge leg up against the competition. JavaScript, which is both a front end and back end programming language, allows you to take static elements on your site and make them interactive. With JavaScript, you can make Twitter feeds that update automatically, websites that look different when you’re logged in, image sliders, and more!

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Soft Skills Every Web Designer Needs

Now that you have the design and tech parts down, you only need to add some soft skills to keep yourself organized and effective in your web design work. These are the skills most web designers swear by, so save yourself some time by learning them now rather than later.

6. TIME MANAGEMENT

Whether you’re interested in learning web design to go freelance or to work for a company, you’ll need to stay on top of your schedule and your projects to be a successful web designer. This can mean getting to know productivity apps like task lists or calendars or, especially if you’re in a large organization, learning project tracking tools like Trello or JIRA. Whatever the tools, mastering the art of prioritizing and tracking your work will be essential for your success (and sanity!) in the busy world of web design.

7. COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Staying in touch and getting your point across are also must-have skills for a designer. You can’t make a living from building websites without great communication. You’ll need to keep clients up-to-date on the progress of their projects, plus pitch ideas and explain your creations. You might even be called on to do some copywriting or editing for sites, especially if you’re running your own one person shop. So buckle down on your writing and your presentation skills, and you’ll be sure to get your point across with clients and coworkers.

8. SEO / DIGITAL MARKETING / SOCIAL MEDIA

The skillset of SEO (search engine optimization), digital marketing, and social media might seem like it’s meant more for a marketer or salesperson than web designers. But, since the Internet is the way so many companies sell today, you should wrap your head around them too. Even knowing the basics of each and keeping them in mind for both clients and your own sites will get you a long way in your web designer journey.

9. BUSINESS / CLIENT MANAGEMENT

And, as an employee or as a freelancer, understanding the bottom line will help you make sure you or your company is profitable and sustainable. You don’t have to go back for your MBA, but you should have an idea about the goals and finances of your employer or your own business so you can use them to guide your work. And, if you’re designing directly for clients, you should have a plan for making sure that your cash flow and project backlog are both healthy and doable in the short and long term.

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How to Learn Web Design Online

Working with a Website Designer: 5 Tips for Effectively Collaborating

As you can see, there’s nothing mysterious or mind-blowing about the skills you need to be a web designer, but then there is the question of where and how to learn them. A foundation in the tech side and a good handle on the organizational parts will both get you going and be there for you as you build your knowledge and your career in web design.

You can learn ALL the skills we talked about above in Skillcrush’s Break Into Tech program, a comprehensive, entirely online course of study designed to take you from zero to working in web development or as a web designer in months. It includes fast tracks for getting you into your dream career quickly, over a dozen courses, plus optional course add-ons to help you niche down and find your path in tech.

We’ve also got a more specific Visual Designer course that covers everything from color theory and typography to becoming a Photoshop master. It’s the perfect digital course for creative types obsessed with colors, fonts, and all things visual.

Our courses are fully online and include 24/7 access to materials, as well as lots of support from friendly instructors and your fellow budding web designers in the online student community. You’ll even learn how to find, land, and complete your first paying web design project within months

Pro tip: You don’t need any design or coding experience to get started for any of our courses. So, join us now to get that exciting and fascinating career in web design you’ve been dreaming of.

12 essential tips for improving your web design in 2021

12 essential tips for improving your web design in 2021

How to improve my website

  1. Have a Plan
  2. Remove stocky images and ambiguous terminology
  3. Include social share and follow buttons
  4. Implement calls-to-action
  5. Use the right imagery that works for your audience
  6. Create a navigation that guides users through your site
  7. Let your visitors scroll on your homepage
  8. Don’t be afraid of white space
  9. Stay mobile friendly
  10. Focus on SEO
  11. Never stop testing
  12. Find and fix 404s
  13. Create unique offerings
  14. Create content for your persona

Within five seconds of landing on your website, can your visitors determine what your company does? Could users easily navigate to the blog if they need to? Is the layout of your pricing easy to understand? Does your website have a low bounce rate? 

If you’re finding yourself answering ‘no’ to these questions, it might be time to take a hard look at the way you’ve been designing and optimizing your website.

A website truly excels when it has a design that feeds into your website’s user experience, functionality, and appropriately complements your content.

It can be super easy to neglect these things, thinking these updates are the lowest thing to worry about on your totem pole of website priorities, but a successful website that has both high-performing content and an exceptional user experience needs to have balance. 

The last thing you want is to be spending time writing some amazing content on your blog or service pages, only for it to go unnoticed due to design flaws, navigation issues, or confusing layouts, or missed conversion opportunities. 

But the umbrella of website user experience has a lot under it, and it can be challenging to understand all that’s under it while figuring out the most important things to tackle.

So, what do you need to know to start improving your web design?

To answer that, here are 12 website tips to ensure that you’re going in the right direction in your redesign and are assuring you aren’t turning visitors away.

1. Have a plan

Now that you’ve acknowledged that your site likely needs some improvements, it’s time to work your way backward and create a plan detailing how you’ll tackle them. 

Start by mapping out your customer journey from the first time someone visits your website to the moment they become a customer.

When doing this, think about which pages are they going to view, what content are they going to read, and what offers are they going to convert on. Understanding this will help you design a site that actually helps nurture leads through the sales funnel.

I’ve always liked Leadfeeder’s customer journey map as a great example. You don’t need to make it as graphical as they did, but it gets the point across. It illustrates what users do when visiting their website and what commonalities occur between those who do and do not become customers. 

If you are struggling to compile this data, or, lack a CRM that would make researching this easier, you can always interview your customers. Ask if you could have 15-30 minutes of their time to ask them a few questions (you can even compensate them with a $10 Starbucks or Amazon gift card). Interview as many people as you can, but no need to go overboard. 

Then, use this data to map out your strategy. This will help you identify the key touch points of your website or the areas your users interact with. 

Throughout these touch points, you should be able to map out the emotion, thoughts, goals, pain points, and opportunities each touchpoint needs to evoke.

Answering these questions will help you direct your design. Is their imagery that will help best address these areas in the way you want? What about a particular color palette? Getting started on your customer journey map will help create answers to these questions and better reinforce your design. 

2. Remove distractions and reduce friction

Certain elements on your website are going to detract from the value and message you’re trying to convey. Complicated animations, content that’s too long, and “stocky” website images are just a few examples. 

With an audience that only has an attention span of eight seconds, you need to make it abundantly clear what your user will learn on the page they’re viewing and your design must not detract from this. 

This starts with making sure you have consistent brand guidelines you can work off of. 

This should detail your font styles, colors, imagery, iconography, and logo usage. Without this, it’s easy for brands to struggle when designing pages. You’ll likely start to see arbitrary colors and varying font styles and sizes used, which in turn, can distract from your message or create visual confusion for people trying to convert. 

It’s also important to avoid too many on-page animations or interactions. If you’re scrolling through a page and see every button pulsing or a section of icons each with their own animation, it can  feel overwhelming and distract them from reading what’s on the page.

Let’s take a look at the website below as an example. Note, since I’m treating this as more of a critique, I’m removing the brand’s logo from the image so they can remain more anonymous.

remove distraction and friction 1

When looking at this site, the first thing I noticed was the colors. 

For one thing, the way they are used makes it hard for the user to decide where their eye is supposed to go. Should it be one of the two red buttons? What about the hello bar? Or maybe the top of the navigation? 

You need to figure out where you want users’ attention to go when they arrive on the page and what order it needs to flow naturally. This current color arrangement creates friction in accomplishing this.

Second, there are some areas of inconsistent spacing. The hanger in the hello bar (‘you!’) creates a second line that could easily be fixed if the width of the container around the text was increased. The H1 also isn’t exactly vertically centered in the white area, drawing your eye to “issue” rather than the bulk of the message. 

In the grey section below the header, they lead with a button (which doesn’t have much context) and feels sandwiched on top of an image. As a user, I’m left to wonder if it’s supposed to have space below, or, if it’s supposed to directly relate to the image. Did the site just load incorrectly? This internal debate creates friction and confusion.

Let’s look at a page that offers a better user experience and abides by brand guidelines.

Remove distractions and reduce friction 2

Above we have Communication Square, another company in the IT space. At first glance, this website utilizes a much cleaner look and feel with less bold colors and more white space. 

When it comes to colors, I like how Communication Square has two buttons colors, one for the lower priority top or middle-of-the-funnel actions (blue) and one for the bottom-of-the-funnel action (orange). As a result, my eye immediately goes to the orange, the more important action they want me to take.

Their fonts also feel much more cohesive.There looks to only be one font family, used in either a light, medium, or bolded weight. This creates uniformity and makes everything work together nicely.  

The hero image overall offers little room for distraction. The fact that the hero image itself isn’t too detailed and is masked with a white overlay allows the content to stand out, rather than it disappearing into the image. 

Details like this really help make or break your overall website experience and help your users better understand what you want them to do, leaving less room for confusion.

3. Add social proof

If you shop like most people when you’re on Amazon, chances are you gravitate towards products that contain mostly four to five-star reviews from people who wrote out their experiences with a product.

In looking at these reviews, we gain trust in the product that it will do what it promises and we need it to do, which in turn, pushes us to purchase it. 

The same effect is applied to your product or service and website. If users see impactful testimonials from real people, studies show your prospects are 58% more likely to buy your product.

But how should your testimonials visually look so they effectively create that trust with your users when they see them?

Well, there are a few strategies you can take. But first, you need to think about what format of testimonial you want, text or video. Historically, video testimonials have been found to be the best. This is because the medium naturally keeps your user’s attention for longer and also builds a stronger human connection being able to hear voices and see faces of real people. 

You also have the option of text testimonials, however, which, when designed and incorporated properly, will still help build trust with your users. 

Upland Adestra is an enterprise email and marketing automation software company in the United Kingdom. They have four videos on their testimonial page that each are contained in their own sections. 

video social proof

Rather than arbitrarily place all the videos next to each other, Upland separated them and accompanied them with a header and sentence detailing the result or benefit the client had working with them. Now, users have context to what they will hear about in the videos. 

I also like how a few of the videos show thumbnails of someone talking, which visually reassures the user that they will likely be hearing from the client themselves, as opposed to watching a text-based video.  

If you’re aren’t yet equipped with video testimonials like Upland, then you’ll likely have a case studies page, where you can talk in detail about everything you did to help your clients. 

Zenefits has done a great job of this on their website.

zenefits case studies

Each card is designed with an image that showcases members of that company, which is way more trustworthy than if they were to use stock photos, or just a picture of their logo. 

And because they have five pages of testimonials, they’ve added a filter at the top of the page that allows users to segment what types of industries or solutions to look for. Now, users can find the types of case studies they want faster. 

zenefits filtering

Finally, if your site only has text testimonials without case studies, there are aspects you need to be mindful about when designing them out. 

For instance, you can’t just put a set of text testimonials and a name alone. It’s less likely these will be taken as truth since it will leave users wondering what company they work for, what their job title is, and visibly what this person looks like (for visual confirmation that this person is likely real). 

Take a look at this testimonial section on Drift’s website. 

drift testimonials

In their case, they use tweeted reviews, but you can easily supplement this layout with something not using a Twitter feed.

Regardless of them coming from Twitter, this section gets a bunch of things right. One, there’s a large number of reviews that can be seen at once thanks to the interest-styled layout. 

Secondly, the testimonials include photos and people/company names, making the reviews are that much more legitimate.   

When it comes to places to include testimonials on your website, I always recommend your homepage, service pages, and/or on a dedicated testimonial page that you include in your navigation. Each of these pages is the best touchpoint for people who are either learning about your company and considering buying. 

So long as they are genuine, testimonials will better your website’s experience and build trust with your prospects before they become clients.

4. Implement calls-to-action

Once your visitors land on your site (likely through the blog or home page), you need to guide them to places on your website that will help nurture them to conversion. People are lazy, so make this easy for them. Point them in the right direction so they don’t have to struggle to find what they are looking for. 

One of the best ways to improve your web design with this in mind to use strategically placed call-to-actions in areas such as the top right of your navigation, below sections that require action, and at the bottom of your website pages. 

But don’t lose sight of your buyer’s journey. The easy thing to do on your website is to inundate users with the most bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) call-to-action wherever they go, but if someone is not ready to buy, then they likely will take no action at all.

Instead, you should meet your user where they are based on the page they’re viewing. 

For example, if they’re on a website, learning about a material used to build a custom closet, this person is more likely still educating themselves and becoming aware of their problem. Rather than smacking them with a ‘contact us’ call-to-action, give them one to view a comprehensive guide on custom closet building materials. They’ll be more likely to convert as it’s their current concern.

Take a look at a real-life example of this.

The title of it is ‘8 Obvious Reasons You Need a Website Redesign (But Are Still Ignoring)’. Readers who land on this article are likely thinking about a website redesign and are trying to confirm if it’s the best decision for them. So, it only makes sense to show them a call-to-action that will help them learn more about it. 

The offer we present to them is an ultimate guide to redesigning your website, where they can hopefully find the answers to almost all they are looking for in one place. 

cta

These types of offers also have the benefit of building trust with your users. If these work to educate them, they will begin seeing your company as a thought leader, leading them to feel more comfortable researching your services.

5. Use the right stock images

We always recommend using original photography on your website, but if that’s not an option, there are techniques you can use to help pick out the right type of stock photo

While stock photos save you the time of producing your own imagery, many websites have imagery that falls into cliche. You’ll also find a lot of other websites may be showcasing the same imagery, which certainly doesn’t help for your credibility. 

Users will “subconsciously project their negative experiences onto these stock photos, reducing trust and adding friction to the process” of converting. 

So, when choosing stock photos, try to stay away from these cheesy images. These are the photos of people high-fiving with over-exaggerated smiles, groups looking at the camera, executives in superhero costumes, groups of suited people jumping in the air.

When was the last time you saw people in these scenarios in real life?  

Look instead for photos that depict realistic scenes in well-lit environments. This could be people in an office talking over a meeting table in business casual clothing, over the shoulder shots of people typing on a laptop, people drawing on a whiteboard in an open room. These are the types of scenes others will start to recognize as legitimate. Look for candid images and ones in real-life settings rather than studios. 

So, rather than using photos like this:

bad stock image-min
Bad Stock Photo-min
bad stock photo 2-min

Which feel unrealistic for the reasons mentioned above, try going to photos like this:

good stock image 3
good stock image
Good stock image 2

Once you find photos like this that you like, you should run them through TinEye to get an idea of how many people are using that photo on their website. If the numbers are in the thousands, it might be best to use a more uncommon photo. 

tineye

This will aid in bringing more realism to your brand and making sure the images match who you are and what your content is explaining.

You can also check out this article for some awesome stock photo website suggestions if you find yourself struggling with getting more realistic photography on your website. 

Being more mindful with your photography will help better represent your brand and how you want others to perceive it. 

6. Organized navigation

When designing your website, navigation is key. It’s essentially the map that displays the core places users can visit. It’s how users can easily dive deeper into areas such as your services, products, blog, etc. 

There’s nothing worse than a site with a disorganized or confusing navigation interface. Poor design practices such as overstuffing your navigation, using vague or confusing hypertext, and lack or organization can make it hard for your visitors to find where they want to go.

If users cannot find what they’re looking for, they have no reason to stay on your site. Instead, they will certainly bounce and find a competitor that offers a better user experience. 

When improving your website’s navigation, it’s important to ensure that your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for. This would include streamlined content, navigation hierarchy, and responsive design, so the experience doesn’t drastically change on mobile.

Take Zendesk’s navigation for example, which includes the most important pieces of information you’d likely want to visit on their website. Products, pricing (this is a must), services, and resources. 

zendesk navigation

Each nav item has ample space so it’s clear where the separation is. 

In some cases, like in the image above, the menu item will even have a descriptive line to provide more context to the purpose of that page. The hover effect also makes it clear to the user that these are links that will result in them going to another page. 

With one click, users can get to these places with ease, so make sure you’re enacting a similar strategy (without overloading your navigation).

Clean and specifically organized navigations like this let the user know that you want them to have an easy time moving around your website and that there’s nothing to hide. As a result, your users are more likely to visit higher numbers of pages during their session, increasing their time spent on your website. 

7. Let your visitors scroll on your homepage

There was a time where we were wary about making our website pages too long, especially your homepage. This was out of fear of users not scrolling, so it forced folks to try and cram what they could into the most common screen size people view their website with. 

But those days are long gone. In a 2018 study by the Nielsen Norman Group, 74% of the viewing time on a website page was spent in the first two screenfuls, up to 2160px horizontally. So there’s no need to be afraid of creating a more robust below-the-fold experience. 

Use your homepage real estate to your advantage. 

A good rule-of-thumb is to include three to five sections that help direct new and recurring users to the key areas of your site.

What should these sections be? This list could go on forever, but a quick hit-list of some of the more crucial elements includes:

Each nav item has ample space so it’s clear where the separation is. 

In some cases, like in the image above, the menu item will even have a descriptive line to provide more context to the purpose of that page. The hover effect also makes it clear to the user that these are links that will result in them going to another page. 

With one click, users can get to these places with ease, so make sure you’re enacting a similar strategy (without overloading your navigation).

Clean and specifically organized navigations like this let the user know that you want them to have an easy time moving around your website and that there’s nothing to hide. As a result, your users are more likely to visit higher numbers of pages during their session, increasing their time spent on your website. 

7. Let your visitors scroll on your homepage

There was a time where we were wary about making our website pages too long, especially your homepage. This was out of fear of users not scrolling, so it forced folks to try and cram what they could into the most common screen size people view their website with. 

But those days are long gone. In a 2018 study by the Nielsen Norman Group, 74% of the viewing time on a website page was spent in the first two screenfuls, up to 2160px horizontally. So there’s no need to be afraid of creating a more robust below-the-fold experience. 

Use your homepage real estate to your advantage. 

A good rule-of-thumb is to include three to five sections that help direct new and recurring users to the key areas of your site.

What should these sections be? This list could go on forever, but a quick hit-list of some of the more crucial elements includes:

Zenefits does a killer job at hitting many of these points.

Zenefits 2

heir homepage offers an experience that walks you through a brief overview of the tool, features of their platform, testimonials, and ending with a call-to-action for a demo. 

By the end of the page, users have a great well-rounded idea of what Zenefits can do for them and how clients have liked using the platform. 

If you want to go deeper into the anatomy of the best homepage, check out this awesome infographic or this comprehensive article revealing other important homepage elements not mentioned here.

8. Don’t be afraid of white space

Whitespace is an essential design element that helps you break up the page and increase readability. Also called “negative space,” white space refers to the areas around elements on a page that are empty and lacking content or visual items.

Whitespace also plays an important role in the design process and positioning of website elements. While more whitespace can dictate what sections are separate and guide the eye, less whitespace can dictate which elements are supposed to be related to one another due to their proximity. 

Vidyard has consistently done a great job with this. Their sections are always separated generously so they fit nicely within your viewport, without too much crowding from any sections above or below.  

vidyard whitespace

This enables users to focus on each part of a website page piece by piece and instantly lets them know where each section begins and ends. This can do wonders for helping guide your user’s eye to important information such as a call-to-action or value proposition. 

If you need further examples of the website doing this well, check out these all-stars to help aid you in your improvements.

9. Mobile optimization is a must

These days, it is critical that you take the time to optimize your site for mobile.

If you don’t already know, 80% of internet users own a smartphone, and “Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.”

I’d be a little concerned if I were you.

But it’s more than just being responsive visually. It’s a necessity to tailor your site to fit the needs and wants of your visitors. Ask yourself, why would someone access my site on mobile? What things would they look for? Does my experience currently allow them to do those things easily?

Using Chili’s website as an example, you can visibly see how the desktop and mobile websites are extremely similar. So when users go back and forth between the two for orders over time, there are similarities between the two that make using the website familiar.

They also make it easy to do the core thing on their website, ordering food. The button needed for this is always on screen on the mobile website, so you can order whenever you’re ready without having to go to an entirely different page.

chilis mobile

If your website is lagging on its mobile optimization, check out some of these awesome mobile websites to understand how they have created seamless mobile experiences for their users.

10. Make pricing easy to find

Tell me if this situation sounds familiar to you.

You’re currently looking for a new SaaS product online to solve an issue you’re having. For this story, let’s say a project management tool.

You’ve spent the past hour vetting a couple of pieces of software, and think you’ve finally found one that looks promising. With that in mind, you now try to find pricing.

So you click on the pricing page only to arrive at a page that looks something like this:

pricing table without pricing

At this point, you’re likely a little frustrated. You might even be wondering if this means it’s too expensive. What are they trying to hide anyway? Why bother calling and asking? 

So now you decide to leave the site and look at the competitors. 

If your site follows a similar pattern, or worse, lacks a pricing page at all, you’re going to find your users following this same mindset.

I can’t stress enough how important including pricing is on your website. Including it “enables visitors to complete their research (as any modern buyer wants) and ultimately, qualify or disqualify themselves, preventing your sales team from wasting time on someone who isn’t a good match.”

You may worry that competitors will just try to undercut you, or that your pricing is too complicated to show on your website, but in reality, you should worry more about properly educating your prospects on why your pricing is the way it is and the value you offer. 

If someone’s simply looking for the cheapest price possible, regardless, they are likely not a good fit for you anyway.

With this in mind, let’s look at a website that does make pricing stand out on their website. Trello makes it extremely easy for users to figure out what pricing tier they best fit in to and what it will cost the user. 

trello pricing page

The pricing table has the features included below each tier, so comparing each is as simple as reading left to right. The green buttons utilized in the last to tiers also help draw the eye to those being more desirable options. 

To get started on a great pricing strategy, take a look at these sure-fire tips to help guide you. 

11. Create a self-selection experience

As someone who finds themselves overwhelmed when it comes to shopping on e-commerce websites, I can’t tell you how happy I am when I find tools that can help select the right things for me.

These tools, called self-selection tools, bring users through a series of questions to arrive at a specific type of result. These results could be a customized quote, product, or an answer to a very high level question (ex. ‘What is my personality type?’).   

Tools like this can make it immensely easier for people to understand what the best products or services are for them without them having to navigate through your website to find the answer.

My favorite, seemingly simple tool is Amazon’s product recommendation selector below certain items on the site. Whenever you thumbs up or down on anything shown, the tool instantly changes other products shown in the feed that it believes are closer to what you’re looking for. 

amazon recommendationsNeedless to say, this made finding the perfect vase a lot easier for me!

A less intimidating recommendation tool to checkout is IMPACT client Yale Appliance’s product configurator for the best range oven. This essentially just matches whatever inputs you select and filters through products.

pro range configuator

Using detailed iconography, users are able to select which options work best for their situation which results in them being served the best product. This saves users countless hours searching the website and the trouble of calling a sales representative.

Also, the quicker you get what your prospects to what they are looking for, the quicker they might be to purchase it. 

While this might be more of a later project, it’s a worthwhile tool that will ultimately help differentiate your company from your competitors and offer a unique experience in your business vertical.

12. Test and iterate

Your website needs to be a living, evolving piece of your company, not static. There is likely always room for improvement. Improving certain areas of your website can aid in improving conversions, time on page, and pages per session, but knowing what solution might work best in improving your website is the tough part. 

This is where running A/B tests comes in. Taking two variations of a page and testing them against each other can reveal if certain areas are creating issues for your users.  

In some cases, your pages may be performing quite well, but contain outdated information. A/B testing the page can show you how much of an effect the page’s content has on session duration or possibly conversions.

In other cases, you may want to see if design updates could affect a page’s performance. Simple changes such as button colors, headers, or refining copy could make incredible differences in conversion rate.  

All that said, other than taking a set-it-and-forget-it approach, especially if you don’t know what to change, you can use tools to create A/B tests for them, multivariate tests, or even set up heat maps to see what users are doing. 

Each test can reveal a variety of data that identifies why users are interacting with pages in particular ways.

From here, I would monitor these tests and tools on a weekly, or bi-weekly basis to see how changes you’ve made are affecting your page performance. Checking frequently also allows you to adjust sooner rather than later if things are headed in the wrong direction. 

I recommend checking out tools such as Lucky Orange or Hotjar for heat mapping, and A/B test tools like VWOOmniconvert, or A/B Tasty.

Key takeaways

Taking the time to implement these tips on your website can bring dramatic change that can help improve the performance, experience, and customer conversion rates of your website, but once you get some of these tips in place, you may be thinking that the greater project at hand is to refresh your website with a redesign. 

Although this is certainly the more intimidating project to concur, you’re not alone in this thought. So, whether you’re not sure if a website redesign is something you should do, or, you just want to get an idea of what it entails, I recommend downloading this ultimate guide to keep in your back pocket

This way, you’ll be that much more ahead of the game when a website redesign conversation comes up in your organization and you’ll feel more confident with what needs to be done. 

Contact us for more information.

Beginner’s Guide: How to Learn Web Designing at Home

HTML Responsive Web Design

Web design is quite complex and daunting, but with the development of the Internet and technology, web design overflow than ever before nowadays. Hence, becoming a web designer has become the main trend among young designers. Today, I will guide you about how to learn web design at home briefly.

1. First, you should know about what is web design?

Visual+interaction=web design core

Many young designers often misunderstand the concept of web design, web design is about design, not about coding and front-end development. Of course, it would be great if you know some coding language (HTML, CSS, Java), but you can’t get yourself deep into front-end development, that’s not the core of web design. Web design is to solve the communication problems between users and web page information.

2. 9 web design skills young designer should master

Master the basic rules of visual design

To learn the layout design

To learn the color principles

To master the basic knowledge of interaction design

Have to master the PS and other web UI mockup tool

Understand the basic coding language(HTML, CSS)

Familiar with the company product and the user group

At least, master one of the front-end coding edit software, I would like to recommend the Dreamweaver

Know about the SEO

3. Five elements of web design

Layout, color, graphics, font, content

4. How to learn web design at home

One post can’t include all the information, so here I’m going to introduce some learning websites to guide you step and step.

Web design learning books:

1. HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites

2. Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide

3. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

4. Learning How to Make Web Pages Functional

5. Designing with Web Standards

Web design online learning courses:

Treehouse

Lynda

Udemy

Web design blogs:

1. Smashing Magazine

2. Mockplus blog

3. Webdesigner Depot

4. Webdesignledger

5. WEB DESIGN LIBRARY

6. Hacking UI

7. 1stwebdesigner

8. WEBAPPERS

Coding:

1. W3Schools

To learn the basic coding language, it includes HTML and CSS with simple language to teach you.

2. Google Code University

Another coding learning website which is created by a Google developer.

3. Code Avengers

I like this learning website because it’s just like a big adventure that allows you to participate in their coding challenge program and bug hunting.

HTML and CSS:

30 Days to Learn HTML and CSS

A Beginner’s Guide to HTML & CSS

Don’t Fear the Internet

Conclusion:

No matter what position you are in, learning is the only way to achieve your goal. If you want to know how to learn web design at home, above is all you have to know. Stop wasting your time on Facebook or Twitter to look for answers. You can build your design circle in there, but you can’t be a web designer by tooling around. Wish you good luck. Contact us for more information.

5 Web Design Tips for an Outstanding Site

This post was last updated on May 5, 2020.

When it comes to website design, there are so many different styles and directions in which your website can go: it can be anywhere from classy to minimalistic, from playful and vibrant to sleek and modern.

While your final look-and-feel should exude your personal style, line of work, and brand identity, there are a few ground rules that are always applicable.

Great web design feeds into your user experience and functionality, while being easy to understand at first glance. Below we’ve gathered five simple website design tips to help make your site effective and compelling:

Web design tips for an outstanding website

  1. Keep your homepage minimalistic and free of clutter
  2. Design with visual hierarchy in mind
  3. Create easy to read website content
  4. Ensure your site is easy to navigate
  5. Stay mobile friendly

01. Keep your homepage minimalistic and free of clutter

Your website’s homepage should communicate your core message instantaneously. After all, we rarely read every word on a website. Instead, we quickly scan the page, picking out key words, sentences and images. With these known behaviors in mind, it’s better to appeal to emotions rather than word count.

The less site visitors have to read, click on, or remember, the better they’ll be able to process and evaluate your content. By designing for decreasing attention spans, it’s more likely that users will do what you intend them to do.

When learning how to design a website, these simple website design tips will help you break up your content and make for a presentable and inviting homepage design:

  • Keep important content above the fold: Visitors should understand what your website is all about as soon as possible, without having to scroll or click anywhere.
  • Space out your content: Employ whitespace in between elements. By leaving some areas blank, you’ll give the design a much more spacious, well-balanced feel. As for your text, write in bite-sized, legible paragraphs.
  • Add imagery: High-quality media features such as beautiful photographs, vector art or icons, will do wonders as alternative ways to communicate your point.
  • Include a call-to-action: From making a purchase to signing up, encourage site visitors to perform the action you intended by placing a call-to-action (CTA) button on your site’s homepage.

02. Design with visual hierarchy in mind

Hierarchy is an important principle of design that helps display your content in a clear and effective manner. Through the correct use of hierarchy, you’ll be able to lead site visitors’ attention to certain page elements in order of priority, starting with the most significant piece.

The main components of visual hierarchy are:

  • Size and weight: Highlight your top assets, such as your business name and logo, by making them larger and more visually prominent. Readers tend to naturally gravitate towards large and bold titles first, and only then move on to smaller paragraph text.
  • Element placement: Use the right website layout to steer your visitors’ eyes in the right direction. For instance, you can place an important call-to-action button at the very center of the screen, or position your logo at the header.

Once you establish a clear hierarchy for your information, readers can’t help but unconsciously follow the breadcrumbs you have left for them. Then, apply color, contrast, and spacing for further accentuation, remaining mindful of what is drawing the most attention and making sure that it’s always intentional.

Some powerful web design elements to help you achieve a strong visual hierarchy are strips or grid layouts, such as that of the Wix Pro Gallery. For more ideas and inspiration, check out our designer-made website templates.

10 Things Every Web Designer Just Starting Out Should Know

There are many aspects of creating a website design. Web designers often have to play multiple roles and be very knowledgeable about building effective and usable site layouts. Most of the lessons you’ll learn in web design come from work experience; learning is an iterative process and there is no better way to gain knowledge than to make mistakes (and then and learning from them).

In this article, we discuss  10 essential and general tips that every novice web designer should know.

1. Optimize Web Graphics for Better Page Load Times

Learn how to optimize your web graphics by selecting the proper format and making sure that it’s as small as it can possibly be. Even though people are advancing to broadband connections, there are still quite a few who use dial-up internet connections. Additionally, with the emergence of mobile device technologies that don’t necessarily have broadband-like speeds, having slow page load times due to image file sizes can turn users off.

Here is a general rule of thumb for picking the right file format: images that have solid colors are best saved as PNGs and GIFs, while images with continuous colors (such as photographs) are best saved as JPGs.

Optimize Web Graphics for Better Page Load Times

There are plenty of tools available at your disposal that will help you further optimize your images and lower their file sizes, check out this list of tools for optimizing your images.

By limiting the number of images you use to the bare minimum, being smart about using images and reducing file sizes as best as you can, you will significantly cut down page response times of a web page and improve your web page performance.

2. Keep it Clean and Simple

A good web design is not just one that looks visually appealing, but also one that is user-friendly. A clean and simple web design typically ends up being a high-usability web design that is not confusing to interact with.

By having too many site features and components on a page, you risk the chance of distracting website viewers from the purpose of the website. Make sure each page element has a purpose and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the design really need this?
  • What does this element do and how does it help the user?
  • If I remove this element all of a sudden, will most people want it back?
  • How does this element tie into the goalmessage, and purpose of the site?

Additionally, though it may be super awesome to come up with a new concept or interface design pattern for your website, make sure that the design is still accessible and intuitive to your users. People are accustomed to common interaction patterns, site features, and web interfaces – and if your design is truly unique, make sure it’s not too obscure and puzzling. Be creative, but also keep it simple.

3. Navigation is the Most Important Thing You Will Design

The most essential site feature is the website’s navigation — without it, users are stuck whatever page they happen to land on. With that obvious fact out of the way, we’ll talk about some important points to consider when constructing a navigation scheme.

First, it’s very important to put enough time and a lot of planning on a site’s navigation structure. This is common sense, but it’s still surprising how many web designs take site navigation for granted.

Placement, style, technology (will it use JavaScript or just CSS?), usability, and web accessibility are just some of the things you need to consider when creating the navigation design.

Your navigation design should work without CSS because of text-based browsers. Poke fun of text browsers all you want, but they are still prevalent in many mobile devices. Perhaps more importantly, navigation that works with CSS disabled is accessible (99.99% of the time) via screen readers.

CSS disabled.

Navigation should be accessible and usable without the need for client-side technologies such as JavaScript or Flash, which users may not have enabled or installed for various reasons such as security or company policy.

It is imperative that you have a good navigation system in place that is located at a highly-visible location. A good navigation is detectable as soon as the web page loads without having to scroll down the web page. This is where keeping it clean and simple plays a major role: a complex and unconventional design can lead to user confusion.

Users must never wonder, even for a split second, “Where is the site navigation?”

For sites organized in a hierarchical, multi-level manner, make sure that it is easy to navigate from between parent and child web pages. In addition, it should be easy to reach top-level pages (such as the site’s front page) from any webpage.

The main goal of your site navigation is to allow users to get to their desired content with as few actions and with as little effort on their behalf as possible.

4. Use Fonts Wisely and Methodically

Though there are thousands of fonts out there, you can really only use a handful (at least until CSS3 is fully supported by major browsers). Make it a point to stick to web-safe fonts. If you don’t like web-safe fonts, consider a progressively-enhanced web design that leverages sIFR or Cufon.

Keep font usage consistent. Make sure that headings are visually-different from paragraph text. Use white space, tweak line-height, font-size, and letter-spacing properties to make content pleasant to read and effortlessly scannable.

Perhaps one of the things that web designers often get wrong is font-sizes. Because we want to fit as much text as we can in a web page, we sometimes set font sizes to uncomfortably small sizes. Try to keep font sizes at and above 12px if possible, especially for paragraph text. While many people face no difficulty reading small text sizes, think about older users and persons with low-vision and other types of vision impairment.

5. Understand Color Accessibility

After talking about fonts, we also need to point out the importance of using the right colors.

You  need to consider color contrast of background and foreground colors for readability and for users with low-vision. For instance, black text on white background has a high-contrast, while orange text on red background will make you strain your eyes.

Color contrast.

Also, use colors that are accessible to users with particular forms of color-blindness (check out a tool called Vischeck that will help you test for certain types of color-blindness).

Some color combinations work well only when the color is used as a foreground color instead of a background color. Take for example, dark blue text on a pink background versus but pink text on blue background, same colors but different levels of readability and reading comfort. It is important not only to get a good color combination but also to apply it to the right elements on the page.

Color combinations.

6. You Need to Know How to Write Code Yourself

With various WYSIWYG editors flooding the market, it has become as simple as 1-2-3 to design a site. However, most of these editors insert unnecessarily code junk, making your HTML structure poorly designed, harder to maintain and update, and causing your file sizes to bloat.

By writing the code yourself, you come out with clean, crisp, and terse code that’s a pleasure to read and maintain; code that you can be proud to call your own.

Knowing how to use a WYSIWYG or an IDE with a visual preview does not excuse you from learning HTML and CSS. You have to know what’s going on in order to create effective, semantic, and highly-optimized web designs.

7. Don’t Forget Search Engine Optimization

A good designer should always remember to keep the basics of SEO in mind when designing a site. For example, structuring web content so that important text are represented as headings (i.e. page title and logo). This is where learning how to code properly comes in handy. Knowing correct, semantic, and standards-based HTML/CSS – you will quickly realize that divs are better than tables for web layouts not only for accurate representation of site content, but also for search engine rankings; you will also know that CSS background text image replacement is a good idea.

8. Understand that People are Impatient

People on an average spend only a few seconds before deciding whether they want to read more or navigate away to another site. Therefore, you as a web designer have to device a way for encouraging users to choose the former option within those precious seconds.

Know that not many visitors will scroll down to view the entire contents of the page if what they see at the top does not interest them. Remember to keep your important elements on the top where they are easily visible, but also do not overcrowd the top half of the page which can intimidate users and turn them off from reading further down the page. Consider the top half of a web design a selling point: be a salesman, make people buy into the notion that they want to see what else is on your site.

9. Learn About (and Be Aware of) Browser Quirks

One of the things you must know as a web designer is that your work operates in a finicky and unpredictable environment: web browsers. It’s not enough that your designs work on a few web browsers, they need to work in as many browsing situations as you can possibly afford. Before production – test your prototypes using tools like Browsershots.

Browsershots

10. Make Designs that are Flexible and Maintainable

A good web designer makes sure that the site can easily be updated or modified in the future. Designing websites that are malleable and easy to maintain is a sign of a great web designer. Make your work as modular as possible by separating style from structure.

Know that our industry is dynamic and still young – things change in a very short amount of time. Keeping this thought in mind will promote the creation of flexible web designs.

What are your web design tips?

If you have more tips to share to beginning web designers – kindly share them in the comments.

11 powerful examples of responsive web design

Back in 2010, Ethan Marcotte urged designers and developers to practice “responsive web design” (RWD):

“Rather than tailoring disconnected designs to each of an ever-increasing number of web devices, we can treat them as facets of the same experience. We can [make our] designs […] more adaptive to the media that renders them.”

TIPS

Designing with developers in mind: guides, grids, and frameworks

By designing websites that adapt to any device, designers and developers could future-proof their work, he argued.

Related: 9 examples of clever, creative 404 pages

Eight years later, responsive web design has reached critical mass. It’s now standard practice to create a consistent, yet tailored, experience across every device—including those that have yet to be released.

But what is responsive web design? And what are the best examples of mobile responsive web design in practice?

“Mobile phones and tablets are responsible for 56.74% of global internet usage.”

Twitter Logo

What is a responsive website?

Strictly speaking, responsive websites have three defining features:

1. Media queries

“A media query allows us to target not only certain device classes but to actually inspect the physical characteristics of the device rendering our work,” Marcotte explains.

Media queries thus allow developers to use condition checks to alter web designs based on the properties of the user’s device. This is superior to simply defining breakpoints in the HTML/CSS, as it’s a more tailored experience for the user.

2. Fluid grids

When flexible grids are created using CSS, the columns automatically rearrange themselves to fit the size of the screen or browser window, whether the user is on a 21-inch desktop computer, a 13-inch laptop, a 9.7-inch tablet, or a 5.5-inch mobile phone.

“Fluid layouts [….] put control of our designs firmly in the hands of our users and their browsing habits,” Marcotte explains.

This enables designers to maintain a consistent look and feel across multiple devices. Plus, it saves everyone time and money by allowing designers to update one version of the website versus many.

3. Flexible visuals

Marcotte refers here to using code that prevents rich media files from exceeding the dimensions of their containers, as well as viewports. As the “flexible container resizes itself,” he explains, so does the visual within it.

Given that there are over 8.48B unique devices in existence today, this functionality allow teams to create timeless designs capable of adapting to any device, regardless of its size or shape.

Together, these three types of functionality allow designers to craft responsive websites.

Related: Typography and creating grids for screens

But, Marcotte explains, that’s just the beginning:

“Fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries are the three technical ingredients for responsive web design, but it also requires a different way of thinking. Rather than quarantining our content into disparate, device-specific experiences, we can use media queries to progressively enhance our work within different viewing contexts.”

Below, we’ve included 11 examples that go beyond the fundamental criteria for responsive web design. Each website offers an experience that’s tailored to the user’s unique context.

Responsive web design examples

1. Dropbox

Responsive web design

Dropbox has done a great job of using a fluid grid and flexible visuals to design a standout responsive website. Not only does the font color change to accommodate the background color when shifting from desktop to handheld devices, but the image changes orientation as well.

Accounting for context, Dropbox offers a tailored experience across each device. For example, in an effort to prevent users from bouncing, a small arrow directs desktop users to scroll down to see more content. The same arrow is absent from handheld devices, since it’s assumed that users will naturally scroll on a device with touchscreen capabilities. Similarly, their signup form is visible on desktop devices, but it’s hidden behind a call-to-action button on tablets and mobile devices, where space is limited.

2. Dribbble

Responsive web design
TIPS

Try Freehand, the fast, flexible way to collaborate in real time.

Dribbble’s website features one of the hallmarks of responsive web design: a flexible grid, and it condenses from five columns on desktop and laptop computers to two columns on tablets and mobile phones.

To prevent their website from feeling cluttered on mobile devices, Dribbble has removed several items. For example, shots are no longer attributed to their maker and the view, comment, and like counts are no longer nested beneath each item. They’ve also hidden the menu behind a hamburger icon and removed the search bar.

3. GitHub

Responsive web design

GitHub’s website offers a consistent experience across every device. However, there were a few noticeable differences:

  • When shifting from desktop to tablet devices, the area above the fold changes from a two-column layout to a single-column layout, with the copy above the signup form instead of beside it.
  • Unlike on desktop and tablet devices, where their signup form is a central focus, GitHub presents only a call-to-action button on mobile. Users must click the call to action to surface the form.
  • Like Dribbble, GitHub has also removed the search bar and hidden the menu behind a hamburger icon on handheld devices. This is a pretty common practice, as it helps reduce clutter on mobile devices, where space is limited.

4. Klientboost

Responsive web design

This is another fantastic example of mobile responsive web design. Their website loads remarkably fast at four seconds using 3G connections. More importantly, the look and feel of Klientboost’s website stays consistent across all devices, yet they’ve managed to tailor their user experience to each device.

While the full menu, including a “Get Proposal” call-to-action button and “We’re hiring!” callout, is viewable from desktop and laptop computers, tablet and mobile devices reveal condensed versions of the menu. Users visiting their website from tablet devices are shown a hamburger menu icon and callout, whereas those visiting from mobile phones are shown the menu icon and call-to-action button.

5. Magic Leap

Responsive web design

Magic Leap has designed a simple, mobile-first website with parallax scrolling that brings their stunning illustrations to life. Given that mobile phones and tablets are now responsible for 56.74% of global internet usage, their approach makes sense.

Magic Leap’s user experience is consistent across all devices, with one exception: the microcopy that directs users to scroll, which is included on desktop computers and tablets, but excluded from mobile devices, where it’s natural for users to scroll.

Even with a 3G connection, their website loads in seven seconds—well below the global average of 22 seconds. For a website featuring responsive animation, that’s not too shabby.

6. Shopify

Responsive web design

Shopify’s user experience is consistent across all devices. Only the call-to-action button and illustrations changed between desktop to mobile devices.

On personal computers and tablets, the call-to-action button is to the right of the form field. On mobile devices, it’s beneath.

Similarly, the illustrations are to the right of the copy on personal computers and tablets, whereas they’re placed beneath the copy on mobile devices.

Like most websites, Shopify’s menu is also replaced by a hamburger icon on handheld devices.

Despite using image carousels to show off their customers, they’ve managed to keep their page load speed below five seconds, which is pretty impressive.

7. Smashing Magazine

Responsive web design

Smashing Magazine goes above and beyond, offering a tailored experience across every device. Their website features a two-column layout, full menu, and combination mark on desktop, which converts to a one-column layout and condensed menu with lettermark on tablets and mobile devices.

Smashing Magazine’s website is also a shining example of inclusive design. The menu shown to desktop users features both labels and icons. And I love how, instead of using a run-of-the-mill menu icon, they’ve opted for a call-to-action button with the word “menu” and a search icon. Digital natives have no problem navigating websites from handheld devices, but other generations don’t necessarily know what hamburger icons represent.

Their website also loads in just 2 seconds on devices with 3G internet, which GSMA says will make up 70% of mobile connections through 2020. This keeps their bounce rate low and prevents users from getting frustrated.

8. Slack

Responsive web design

Slack’s brand is known for being simple and human. It’s no surprise that their website follows the same guidelines.

Their flexible grid easily adapts to viewports of all sizes and shapes. For example, while customer logos are presented in a three-column layout on desktop and laptop computers, they’re shown in a single-column layout on handheld devices.

Related: Download 25 free Slack emojis your design team had no idea they needed

Slack’s website is also designed to be easy to use. For example, their call-to-action buttons span the entire column on tablets and mobile phones, which helps users avoid clicking the “Sign in” hyperlink below.

9. Treehouse

Responsive web design

Treehouse offers a seamless experience across all platforms. Their menu gets progressively smaller across devices—desktop and laptop computers feature a four-item menu, tablets feature a two-item menu and hamburger icon, and mobile phones offer a one-item menu and icon.

Their form fields experience the same change. They’re presented in two columns on desktop and laptop computers and one column on tablets and mobile phones.

10. WillowTree

Responsive web design

Like other companies, WillowTree includes a full menu on desktop devices and a condensed menu on handheld devices. But unlike others, they’ve introduced a static navigation bar at the top of the page, which creates a more delightful experience for users with handheld devices. They’ve also added a text-based call to action on the mobile version of their website for added convenience.

Like other responsive websites, the grid they’ve constructed to present customer logos is extremely flexible. It collapses from five columns on desktop computers to four columns on tablets to two columns on mobile phones.

Similar to Treehouse, the area above the fold converts from two columns on desktop to one column on mobile, with the call-to-action button shifting from beside the copy to beneath it.

11. WIRED

Responsive web design

WIRED’s website has a dynamic layout featuring several columns and a sidebar on desktop devices, which converts to a single column on handheld devices.

When shifting from tablet to mobile devices, their menu shrinks to include only their logo, a menu icon, and a link to subscribe. In an effort to keep things simple, search functionality and the ability to filter WIRED’s newsfeed by section isn’t available on mobile.

One area where WIRED shines is using flexible images. The crop on their feature images changes across platforms. On desktop and laptop computers, images vary between squares and rectangles, giving users plenty to explore with their eyes. Yet, on handheld devices, all feature images are cropped using a 16:9 ratio.

What’s your favorite responsive website?

Let us know and we might include it in a future post about responsive design.