WEB DESIGN – THEN AND NOW
What is web design? Web design is a form of communication design that involves planning the layout, text, flow, graphics, look, feel and structure of a website. Since the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989, web designing has undergone major reform. In today’s age, websites have become a necessity for all businesses and a key source of information for web users. Design for websites has evolved in the past 30 years with the change in technology, fashion and most importantly the perception of what is considered as good and sophisticated design.
Back in the 90s, websites were taking baby steps with text-only pages and were not seen as must-haves for businesses. Today, the aesthetics of a website add credibility to businesses and help establish their presence online. Well-designed websites attract more views and are easy to navigate for readers.
Although web designing has modernized with many elements, the key to good web designing is still simplicity. Clean pages, designs and easy to read fonts make a webpage appealing to the reader.
So how has web designing changed over the years and what are the key things that are important for good web designing in 2020? Below are a few tips to remember –
1. Map it out
Early websites used only vertically structured pages which involved users to scroll through long pages. These pages were filled with hyperlinks for navigation to other pages. Today very long pages are frowned upon as most people have a short attention span while surfing through the internet. It is crucial to grab the viewer’s attention in their first few seconds on the website. With the immense growth in competition, a web designer now needs to ensure that users stay on a website. This can be done by building a clear plan for visual flow before implementing a design. This involves guiding the visitor’s journey from the homepage to the important pages in a simple manner. A well planned website can convert views into sales for a brand by answering all queries in the right order.
2. Clean homepage
Websites in the late 90s used flashy buttons and bright colours along with animations thanks to the advent of Flash. Flash made web pages more dynamic and enabled designers to use jazzy attention grabbing elements. Since then, designs have evolved to become more subtle and easy on the eyes.
The homepage of a website especially needs to be clutter free as it sets the first impression. Limited information should be fed onto the homepage, bold fonts and designs on the homepage help in highlighting the essential details. A well-designed homepage enables easy navigation to other pages of a website with the options clearly visible for users to access.
3. Easy navigation
Navigation in website design has come a long way from the table formats used in the 1990s. Tables enabled text and navigation options to be divided into rows and columns. While tables made it easier to arrange graphics and animation, the pages were very text-heavy. Today, easy navigation is a priority and minimum navigation choices are usually provided in small rows or menu options. The navigation menu helps visitors get information on the products and services offered by a business. All navigation options must be visible upfront and the user should be able to get to important pages in a few clicks.
4. Text and images
While early websites heavily relied on just texts, today text is widely used in integration with design. Websites have developed from being text-heavy to striking a balance between text, images and designs to guide readers to important information. Website text is wholly made up of sans serif fonts as they make it easy to scan through the content. Using white spaces can lead to simplistic but impactful design and bold brand statements on websites. Images should be carefully chosen based on the target audience and should be relevant to the brand’s offerings and goal.
5. Speed and testing
Gone are the days when it was normal for web pages to take forever to load completely. With new technology, a site that loads quickly and has no broken pages is now considered ideal. Thus constant tests and checks are important to keep the website up and running. Studying user behaviour may show what is seen as most important based on what they are clicking and may help you make the website better.
6. Mobile friendly
Domino’s Pizza has a easy to use mobile website, making it possible for customers to order via their smartphones. The mobile site ensures that all important options are seen upfront by customers. Image source: dominos.co.in
The concept of ‘responsive web design’ was introduced in 2010 by designer Ethan Marcotte – it focused on designs that adapted to various platforms and screen sizes used by users. It enables users to switch platforms and access the web seamlessly.
Users access the internet more often on their smartphones now than on desktops or laptops. According to a Google (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/mobile-marketing/what-users-want-most-from-mobile-sites-today/)study, 74% of people are more likely to return to a mobile friendly site. 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service. A good mobile site adjusts itself to a smartphone’s dimensions.
Web designing is ever-evolving and is likely to change with future technology. But, the focus will continue to remain on user experience. The best way to design a good website is by keeping in mind the needs of the users and planning from their perspective.