The Ultimate Guide to Web Design for Beginners (2018 Update)
Building a website has never been easier with the introduction of templates, AI design assistants and drag and drop website builders.
Web design is a culmination of several different skills: creating engaging content, creating visually appealing images and colors, optimization for search engines, optimization for conversions, branding and more.
In this guide, I’m going to show you everything you need to look for when creating your website so you end up with a design that adds value to your specific business and stands out from millions of other templates.
To easier navigate this article, click below to jump to where you want to go:
Web Design For SEO
We all want to make sure that our new websites will appear on page 1 of organic search results and get thousands of free potential customers visiting the site every day.
Easier said than done.
Your website, after all, is just one of billions out there, so if you don’t know how to do it, getting to the first page would look near-impossible.
The reality, however, is that ranking high on search engines is not rocket science. Maybe the term search engine optimization (SEO) makes it seem complicated, but the process can be simplified, for example, through e-Learning courses.
SEO is a general term used to describe all tricks and techniques used by website owners or webmasters to get to the first page in organic search engine results page (SERP).
This is a systematic process where you will need to understand the basic elements that will boost your website’s ranking.
In this article, I will discuss some of the crucial aspects you need to consider if you want to nail your new website’s SEO.
SEO for beginners: Find the right keywords
These are basically words or phrases that describe what your new website is all about. It is a tedious process but in the long run, all your hard work will pay off. There are three things you need to consider here:
- High search volume — people are frequently searching for such phrases
- Level of competition — such phrases should have low competition.
- Relevance — it should describe your website.
You will find a number of keyword research tools online. A good example is the Google Keyword Planner or Google AdWords.
Craft quality and informative content
With the recent search engine algorithm updates, Google or Bing aims to provide useful content to the internet users. Their bots will crawl your website to find what users are looking for.
Therefore, you need to conduct a thorough research on what you wish to write and ultimately optimize it for specific keywords.
An important reminder: Don’t write specifically for search engines. You should aim to convert visitors to customers. Therefore, quality content should be your first priority using the sound SEO Techniques.
To optimize content for better SEO ranking, you need to consider the following:
- Content titles — should be eye-catching and should contain the focus keyword.
- Keywords — should be relevant to the content. You should include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords, too. That is, phrases or words related to the focus keyword.
- Links — focus on both inbound and outbound links. For outbound links, target reputable websites within your niche. Choose anchor texts that describe your website.
- Content quality — it must be original, high quality, and informative content that cannot easily be found anywhere on the web.
- Update your website regularly.
Optimize all codes
Codes are an integral part of any SEO techniques.
When you use SEO plugins such as Yoast for WordPress, you will realize the plugin has sections where you need to insert some codes.
They will help in search engine optimization. This plugin will also guide you on the basic elements you need to incorporate.
Other factors to consider in SEO
Aside from the above, you also need to pay attention to the following:
- Title tags — optimize the tag of your website by including a keyword that describes the main theme of the website.
- Meta tags — this is not a ranking factor, but it tells people what the content of the page is all about. You need to include a keyword there, too.
- Headlines — your page should have a headline and sub-headlines, i.e., h1, h2, or h3, depending on how you want to subdivide the article. If possible, the headlines should have the post’s focus keyword or LSI.
- Sitemaps — it is basically a roadmap to your website. It tells search engine bots about the structure and content of your website. You can have either XML or HTML Sitemaps. You should generate the sitemap using a site map creator tool, then submit it to Google or Bing Webmaster.
- Domain name – a domain name with a keyword you want to rank will appear high on search engine results.
- URL structure – it should be simple, memorable, and contains the focus keyword. It should not contain extraneous characters.
- ALT tags – all images must have ALT tags. This makes it easier for the search engine to index images.
Generally, when you consider all these, you could nail your new website’s SEO without spending a lot of money.
Again, don’t forget to list your website on various online directories or bookmarking websites. Social media and online marketing play a pivotal role in SEO too.
This may seem like a tedious process, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. With practice, however, you will definitely find this as part of your publishing routine, making your new website rank high on search results faster than others.
As we head into 2018, I believe web designers will begin designing sites that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also search engine friendly. The following aspects are trends I believe will be implemented into the overall thought process when designing a new site.
Web designers will begin putting a significant amount of emphasis on usability, in making sure that the modern user interface is simple and layout is easy to navigate. The easier you make it for the user to get where they want to go, the more likely they will have a good experience on your site.
They will also begin designing sites with SEO in mind. Given that a site is useless if it can’t be found, web designers must make sure that the website they are designing can be easily optimized and easily crawlable by search engine spiders.
Lastly, web designers will be making the landing page of websites speed a top priority. Everyone hates a slow loading site, so it is essential that your site’s load speed is quick and doesn’t keep the user waiting. A high-speed load time is a strong driver of a great user experience for your visitors.
— Matt Edstrom, Head of Marketing, BioClarity
Web Design for Conversions
You’ve overcome the first hurdle of getting people to visit your site, but once they’re there how do you ensure that they stay, engage, and convert?
A conversion is the end goal for a new visitor on your website. This could be anything from signing up to your newsletter, making a purchase, registering for an event, watching a specific video etc.
Achieving this is sometimes easier said than done, particularly considering that a recent study showed that only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.
Coupled with the fact that attention spans have less than that of a goldfish, it’s even more important to make your website eye-catching and easy-to-understand, and use simple call-to-actions.
Here are five easy ways you can increase conversion on your site:
1. Increase Conversion by Showcasing Your Products
It may seem obvious, but if you’re selling something, you want to make sure that your products are easy to find, visually well-represented, and appealing to your customers.
It’s not simply a case of listing your products though, you’ll need to think about how best to list them. For example, you may want to list your most popular or best selling items first.
Ensuring that your product copy is attractive is equally important, as are high-quality images. You’ll also want to test different call-to-action button text and colors.
There has been much debate on which colors work best, but the key is to test and find what works best for you. One plugin that makes this simple and effective is eCommerce. This allows you to add images, pricing, product information, and other details such as sizing options all in one neat product listing.
You can also connect to PayPal, allow customers to pay via credit card or even accept offline payments. Any time an order is placed you’ll be notified by email and you’ll have access to a sales dashboard that gives you a complete overview of orders made, so you’re always on top of things.
2. Get Social
Building a sense of community around your business is very important in terms of bringing more people to your site. In fact, 82% of small business owners use social media sites to help grow their business.
This helps in numerous areas: customer service, marketing, brand recognition, and it can also boost your SEO rankings. The key is to make your social media accounts accessible and prominent where appropriate on your site so that users can connect with you on all platforms.
Social Feed allows you to connect to your social accounts and display them on your site in an eye-catching gallery. You can even enable sharing directly from your website so that if your site visitors like something they see, they can share it without needing to go to another platform.
Another option is to add social media icons to the footer of your page, for example, to allow quick access to your social accounts. Given that 81% of the US population has a social media profile, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.
3. Create a Sense of Urgency
Many conversions are lost due to a lack of any sense of urgency when making a purchase or taking up an offer online. Creating a sense of urgency on your website is one of the most effective ways to increase conversion.
A strong call-to-action is key and button text color can make a difference, but urgency causes us to act quickly and suspend deliberate thought. This is achieved by crafting targeted messages and limited time offers that drive more clicks to your ‘Buy Now’ or call-to-action button.
Displaying your offer is easy with POWr Countdown Timer. This powerful plugin can be customized to fit in with the design of your site and you can decide what happens when your countdown ends, such as displaying a message or link to another page on your website.
For even greater power, consider combining it with a popup that displays a special promotion for users if they show exit intent in order to keep them on your site.
4. Make it Visually Engaging
Numerous studies have shown that articles with images get more views, so it’s no secret that visual engagement is an important factor in keeping visitors on your site and to increase conversion.
Successful ways of doing this include using moving slideshows or Pinterest-style galleries where you can mix the content and customize the layout, sizing, and other properties.
When you consider that video content makes up most of internet traffic, using mixed media (videos and images) where possible is extremely beneficial to keeping your site visitors engaged.
You can always visual engagement by choosing the perfect color scheme for your brand:
5. Make Yourself Available to Customers
In today’s internet age, web and mobile have become the first point of contact between customers and businesses.
With the current immediacy of data, the expectation is that we’re able to find out what we need online within seconds. If we can’t, there’s a block and it leads to site abandonment.
Making sure that you’re reachable for your customers is paramount and this can be achieved in several ways. For example, a contact form on your site gives users a simple way to contact you, without having to switch to email or try to find you elsewhere.
If you want visitors to reach you in real time you could connect with them directly from your site using Facebook Chat. In fact, it is one of the most effective ways of boosting customer satisfaction compared to other communication channels as it allows for more personal interactions.
Another great way of allowing customers to engage with your business (and each other) is by allowing comments on your site. This continues to build the sense of community you can achieve with social media, but also provides a forum directly on your site, helping you to improve satisfaction and drive conversions with positive feedback.
With these five tips in mind you can begin taking your first steps in optimizing your site to keep your visitors engaged, happy and converting. You don’t necessarily need to do it all, but the key is to try, test and see what works best for you and your business.
The key macro trend in website design is simplicity.
With the overwhelming nature of our digital world, effective design now relies on simplicity, negative space, and a conscious effort by the designer to pare content down to the smallest, bite-sized nuggets of information.
The design goal is “calm and alluring.” Viewers will be pulled in, and grateful.
More specifically, we will see increasingly subtle and functional approaches to animation in front-end design. Sites with too many bells and whistles can start out entertaining — but soon become irritating and arduous to navigate.
In the larger picture, smart website design will be less and less about the design itself, and more and more about the content.
Designers and content managers are devoting greater emphasis, and a greater share of the budget, to acquiring, creating or curating information, visuals, videos, etc.. that are genuine, captivating, on brand, and memorable.
— Luke Rayson, Digital Art Director, The Republik
Your Guide To A Good Web Design That Converts
Smart online business owners know that a good web design can make all the difference when it comes to conversion rates. It is one thing to have many people visiting your site and a totally different one to have them buying your products and services.
Since not every visitor will buy from you, your effort should be focused on ensuring that a majority of them do buy. Experienced marketers also understand that even when you have the best products and prices across the web, you will have almost no buyer if your website does not help in conversion.
I feel one of the most important web design trends of 2018 will be focusing more on conversion rate optimization when designing website.
— Khalid Saleh, CEO, Invesp
You need to understand the following facts when it comes to web design.
- Different types of design are suitable for different types of business.
- You need to know the designs that appeal to your target market.
- You should know what your competitors are using and how they are benefiting from it.
- You can always change the design of your website if you think that it is not converting enough.
Although you have the freedom to choose whatever you want for your site, you should always have the interests of your customers in mind.
Use the following tips to get more conversions from your website using the right design.
Limit the number of options
Studies have always shown that the time taken by an individual to make a choice depends on the options given to them. This also determines whether or not they will choose any of the items on offer.
Similarly, in web design, if a visitor has too many options to choose from your menu, you can be sure that their chances of buying will be minimal. Make sure that you do not include too many links to choose from in the navigation bar. If you do that, your visitor will lose interest in all of them.
Borrow the rule of thirds from photography
The rule of thirds in photography is used to capture images in the best ways.
It requires someone to divide the entire space into nine equal parts with four intersections.
In web design, these intersections have been found to be the areas where people focus most.
You should then ensure that you place the most important information on these areas.
Whether they are links to products or descriptions and images that will persuade customers to buy, these are the areas that you can use. You can then place the rest of information in the other areas.
Make use of negative spaces
Negative space is the unused space between all the elements on your website. It could be the empty space between the header and your texts or pictures and the navigation bars. Although this space is empty, it is quite useful when it comes to a good web design.
It is one of the elements that give the website that visual appeal that everyone wants. For example, it makes the content more readable aside from making the website navigable and easy to scan through. Using negative space can also increase the number of time that people spend on your site and therefore, it is likely to get you more customers.
You also should focus on layouts and graphics. The number of pages of your site and the actual size of a page determines how much it will appeal to potential customers.
Improve the page loading speed
The time that your pages take to load have a direct effect on your conversion rate.
In fact, a fraction of a second longer can lower conversion rates.
Most internet users are impatient, they will be likely to head over to an alternative website once they find out that yours is taking too long.
You should then ensure that the speeds are acceptable. You can easily do this by checking your speeds online.
There are websites that can help you to check these speeds for free so that you can improve if your site loads too slowly.
At the end of the day, what you want is a higher conversion rate because it is the only way you can grow your online business and increase your earning potential. No matter how good your product is, if you don’t have a good web design, you won’t earn much. Take these tips in consideration when designing your site and you will see your sales grow steadily.
The year 2018 will bring about more website designers understanding that it’s not always about the trend but rather the conversion. Website designers will continue to grow into creating conversion-oriented websites rather than design-oriented websites.
So, the trend is: web design will be more focused on converting visitors into leads. Whatever a website is trying to accomplish, the trend will be to focus on that goal rather than design trends that don’t help accomplish goals.
— Nick Leffler, Owner, Exprance
Design with Video Content in Mind
Video is the future. That’s a fact. It might even be the present now.
Marketing experts say that it is no longer in doubt that video holds a significant influence on the future of internet marketing. According to Search Engine Land, YouTube gets billions of video views every day. It is, in fact, the second largest search engine in the world after Google.
It makes sense. After all, video marketing show customers not a static image of your products, but a live version of it. Because of this high demand for videos, every marketer and website creator should find the perfect way to include videos in their content.
Again, why do you need video content? The following are just some of the many reasons.
- Videos are among the most engaging content sources today.
- It is easy to consume videos since all one needs is to listen and watch.
- Videos boost the way you connect to your audience, who are also your customers.
- If you have the right tools, videos can be easy to create and distribute.
The reason some marketers do not always get the full benefits of video content marketing strategies is that they do not know how to apply what they know. The actions that you take will always determine what you achieve.
Interestingly, some of the most effective ways to include video in marketing are the ones that are overlooked most. Here are five sure actions that you can take today to realize fast results.
1. Create Product Description Videos
You can use videos to boost your products or services by teaching people about their features. Use them as an avenue to showcase your products by focusing on their best features.
To persuade viewers to purchase the items, you must show them how it solves their problems. It could be an animated video, or a short preview as long as it perfectly serves the purpose.
After creating such videos, you should find the perfect place to upload them. You can choose to have them on your website’s first page so that anyone looking at them will know what your site offers. You also can send them through emails and other communication channels.
You can even make a short clip of it and promote it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, linking it to the full video either in your website or in YouTube. Indeed, there are so many ways you can promote and cross-promote it!
Before you get started, take a look at these 5 powerful tips for making your explainer video.
2. You can Host a Webinar
Webinars can be used to engage an audience and build strong followings for your brand.
It is one of the content marketing strategies that can be used to reach the whole world in an instant.
The best part is that they are not expensive.
In order to use videos perfectly for webinars, you should start by identifying what your audience wants. Different kinds of brands require different types of webinars.
You may also want to try new tricks just to ensure that your audience does not get fed up of the same old techniques. For best results, use A/B testing campaigns, so you know what works best with your audience. Remember, different strokes for different folks!
3. Use Videos in Email Campaigns
If you want to increase the open rate of your emails, you should consider using videos.
When customers want to know more about your products and services, they will be more persuaded to watch videos than to click on links that lead them to other endless reading materials.
The best part is that sometimes, all that you need is to insert a link. Make sure, however, to include even short descriptions of the videos. You need to convince your readers to open your email and click on the video link.
Don’t forget as well to choose the video photo carefully. You would want it to look appealing to your audience so that they will be tempted to click.
4. Produce Customer Testimonial Materials
It is already common knowledge that almost every customer who wants to buy anything online will read a few reviews before making a choice. Therefore, they will also be willing to watch testimonial videos, especially because you know that videos add more life to the reviews.
To begin with, start asking satisfied customers to either submit a video saying how happy they are about the products or ask them if they would be willing to be interviewed via Skype video about their experiences with your products.
You can also interview a customer live and just edit out your questions.
Once you have compiled these videos and edited them, include them in your articles or other marketing content (make sure you have your customers’ permission to do so!). This way, potential customers will see them and check them out.
5. Include Videos in Your Social Strategy
Social media allows you to connect with your audience in ways that no other medium can. Similarly, it is one of the places where you can easily share videos.
For instance, you can create videos on the fly by simply speaking into your webcam. Before you know it, those who live the content will be sharing it.
You can also make short videos as Facebook or Instagram stories. While not as popular as Snapchat (yet), they are increasingly gaining followers.
If you’re targeting millennials or the younger crowd, it’s definitely a must to go into this.
It’s very easy to do, and one video takes a few seconds.
However, since the stories are only good for 24 hours, make sure to save them so you can compile and make a longer video later on if you want to.
Since video and content marketing are inseparable, start thinking of how to come up with the best videos to complement your strategies. As a website creator, nobody would want to watch your videos or share them if they are not appealing.
To boost your marketing campaigns, you have no option but to invest in high-quality tools that can create the best videos. You will soon see that the investment you put into videos will pay in the long run.
In 2018, I expect we will see more video content incorporated into website design. A video is a great way to showcase products/services on website landing pages, add a human element to a company, and usually leads to higher conversions and engagement.
We’ve already seen video content growing in popularity on social media channels but it is definitely making its way over to website design, too. Videos can vary in length from a few seconds all the way up to hour-long seminars or workshop recordings.
With video, the sky’s the limit!
— Charlotte O’Hara, Web Designer, Charlotte O’Hara
Optimize Web Design For Mobile
In November 2016, mobile web usage exceeded desktop internet requests for the first time. Since then, users have not looked back and the trend towards mobile is continuing.
This movement has not escaped the website builders ecosystem, and the concept of mobile-first design has rapidly increased in popularity.
What is Mobile-First Website Design?
In order to uncover why more and more people are turning to this mobile-first approach, it is important to understand what it is.
Simply put, mobile first refers to building a website with smartphone and tablet users in mind as the primary users. Only once they are considered will a designer turn to desktop users.
Similar to standard website creation, mobile first can be broken down into two different categories: design and implementation.
Historically speaking, web designers have used a top-down approach, creating websites built to work on larger screens and then focusing on smaller devices.
Although there was no reason to not use this method at the time, we have now reached a point where more than one tenth of Americans are mobile-only users, with even greater numbers in other parts of the world.
When it comes to mobile devices, websites need to function very differently. Elements that look and function well on a desktop site are often unsuitable for mobile users. The luxury of high internet speeds on WiFi and connected networks are often not available to mobile users, especially those living in rural areas.
Mobile first design focuses on smartphone users, taking into consideration not only the smaller screen size but also the capability of the average mobile device and the necessity for greater compression and smaller file sizes. A mobile version of a website will often have less copy, few images, and streamlined navigation.
There are two ways to create a website from a technical standpoint that will result in a mobile-optimized experience: server-side agent detection and client-side responsive design.
A site designed with server-side detection implementation serves a different version of a website to visitors based on their device. If you use an iPhone, for example, the site you attempt to access will display a mobile version (generally signified with the prefix ‘m’) built specifically for users on the go.
It may look similar to a desktop site or it may use a completely different HTML and CSS file.
This kind of specialized technical design differs from the now-common responsive web design.
A mobile responsive site is one that uses all or most of the elements on a desktop site and simply scales them down, without necessarily reducing the size of the files it contains or the number of elements that the page with load. You can see this concept in action on this page by resizing the page bigger and smaller.
Although responsive design is easy to implement and maintains the aesthetic and flow of a desktop site, it often consumes more data than necessary, loads more slowly, and can result in negative SEO consequences.
Why Mobile-First Design Is Important
In April 2015, Google announced that their mobile search algorithm would prioritize mobile-optimized websites.
This meant that, for the first time, having a mobile-friendly website really mattered (so much so that Google, a company that is notoriously secretive about their methods, revealed it publicly) and served as one of the factors for ranking on the mobile search engine results page.
Simply put, a mobile-first website design can result in a greater number of users, a lower bounce rate, and, ultimately, greater profits — especially as the number of users who are mobile-only continues to rise and the demand for mobile media and shopping experiences increases.
Not only is mobile-first design important, it is affecting website builders more and more, too.
Taking Advantage of Mobile-First Design with Website Builders
Many modern website builders provides users a choice of how their website displays on mobile devices.
This gives users full control over how a site displays when accessed from a smartphone and can even take advantage of the features of the device that are not available on desktop PCs.
These features include geolocation, camera usages, and even creating a direct link to your address and phone number, so that users can easily find you on a map and call you if they want to know more about you.
Mobile first also takes other important factors into consideration, including how people interact with their devices. Instead of clumping many links and buttons into a small area, mobile-first websites are designed for large human thumbs. They also focus on other user experience elements, like easy-to-read text and swipe-able elements.
If you do opt for a mobile-first website, think outside the box, always consider your user experience, and prepare to achieve great things!
Common Web Design Mistakes
Websites are the face that represents your brand on the internet. To achieve your goals, to get higher conversions and make more income, it’s important to follow the practices we’ve outlined so far in this article.
Your website should be search engine friendly, have code compliance, easy to use, optimized for mobile users, look great etc.
One of the mistakes that small businesses tend to do is to design their websites cheaply to save money. What they don’t know is that this penny pinching will affect the performance of their websites, and their business as a whole.
A poor web design will portray a negative picture of your business, leading to lost income opportunities.
Don’t wait for this to happen to you!
Here are six common web design mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.
1. Poor navigation
Implementing simple navigation tactics in your website design ensures that your customers can easily do want they want to do. This is one of the basic principles of effective web design.
Don’t be too creative and unconventional as you will make things confusing for them.
Employing simple and intuitive navigation aspects to your website will make it easy for people to notice it and to navigate around it.
One of the common mistakes that most website designers do is making the navigation menu hard to find.
Can you imagine being on a website where you can’t even find the menu bar? What do you do? Do you try to look for it? Or click x and move on to the next website? Probably the second option, right?
All your website buttons should also be functioning, and there should be sense as well in how the links are organized.
Take some time to plan your website structure even before you begin building it to avoid all these mistakes.
2. Not mobile-friendly
According to Google, it has been estimated that about 82 percent of smartphone users turn to their portable mobile gadgets before making a purchasing decision.
It is even confirmed that mobile searches exceeded desktop search in 2015. As a website owner, don’t wait to get penalized by Google for not having a mobile version of your website.
If your site is not mobile-friendly yet, start implementing changes now.
Enable mobile internet users and consumers to visit your website easily from their devices. By making it mobile friendly, you are likely to see an average of 12 percent increase in visibility in Google mobile.
Common name for mobile friendly is responsive website, you can read more about responsive websites here.
3. Ignoring Metadata
The Metadata that is found in your website’s codes is very important when it comes to SEO.
It includes Meta descriptions, alt texts, and title tags. Search engines look at those to determine where they will direct people searching for related items.
Giving your website a unique and descriptive Meta description should be a priority, as it is what a user or consumer sees first when they visit your website.
You should ensure then that your website designer gives your website pages unique titles that coincide with the keywords goals.
All your titles, Meta descriptions, alt tags, and main page headers should clearly indicate what they are representing on your website. This will make it easier for both your audience and the search engines to easily know and find what they are looking for.
4. Too much going on
The main aim of your website is to make visitors find and understand what they are looking for. When your website is crowded, people will click x as soon as they land on it, since it will be hard for them to understand what’s going on and find what they are looking for.
You need to make sure, then, that your landing page or home page is clear and easily understandable.
Avoid busy designs and confusing layouts to make it easy for both your customers and the search engines.
You should also choose legible font styles and the best font sizes for easy readability.
Although it is always good to be creative especially when it comes to website design (those curling fonts do reflect your personality, right?), remember to define and determine the purpose of your website first, which is to help people solve their problems.
5. Ugly or irrelevant images
Images are an important part of web design and can be a great tool when used properly.
However, when you use irrelevant images or low-quality ones, you may confuse your readers.
You should also note that images are among the website elements that are always ignored by search engines. This is because search engines understand text more than images.
You should, therefore, use images that are of high quality and, thereafter, optimize them to fit the design of your website.
6. Serving irrelevant pop-up ads
In web design, having too many ads are discouraged because it is likely to frustrate your website visitors. Most ads are not indexed by search engines and are not part of a website designer’s work plate.
Despite that, pop-ups can also be a great tool for increasing your email sign ups. You should analyze your ads well and do away with the ones that you are sure will annoy your visitors while keeping the ones that work.
It is better to always have your target audience in mind when designing your website so that you have pop-ups that are relevant and not obstructive to your audience.
Use pop-ups that relate to the content of your website and that will make your readers interested and also easy to close. There are many plugins that you can use to implement reliable pop-ups and see a greater increase in your signups.
With the above ideas, there shouldn’t be a reason for you not to take a step in improving your website design and even customizing it further for greater performance.
What is more important is to always keep your target audience in mind before you even begin the whole website design process to ensure that they will benefit from it.
We Asked the Experts: What are the Top Design Trends coming up in 2018?
They answered the following questions:
- Where do you think website design is going?
- What are key trends to keep an eye on?
- What are some dos and don’ts?
- What’s hot in the industry right now?
Here are the top web design trends to watch in 2018, according to 25 experts in the field. We hope you find some modern inspiration and ideas from these experts for your 2018 website design ideas.
Front page video background
A video background rolling on the front page of a website is becoming more and more popular. A video helps convey a much broader message than an image and provides a great opportunity to tell customers what a brand is about.
This trend will remain at least through 2018, if not become the staple going forward for all modern websites.
More innovative sites are capturing visitors’ attention with a smart use of space and making content easier to read as compared to page layouts clogged with content.
With the release of Google’s material.io design theories, more and more websites are utilizing white space and unifying theory to make pages readable and easy on the eyes.
Websites are going to be moving away from text and making a move toward interactive images. Click on a part of a product, and you get a description of that specific feature. Click on a trunk of a car and suddenly you get the car’s cargo volume and space information.
HTML seems to be moving away from scrollable pages into pages that just show the next section when you scroll. I call this hard scrolling.
You aren’t able to move up and down between two sections, a new section simply shows up when you scroll down, or up. Build in Amsterdam is a great example of this inspirational idea.
Many digital marketing firms are proponents of the purchase funnel, which recommends including a few Call to Action buttons directing customers to the next stage in their shopping process, as opposed to a variety of buttons to all of the available pages.
— Dmitri Tymos, Founder, Learnzilla
The biggest trend that’s taking place is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP was created by Google to speed up mobile browsing and is reported to make sites load as much as six times faster.
It brings mobile development to its knees, giving designers a subset of tools to work with.
All the fancy libraries designers and developers have come to rely on are no longer accessible. It also curtails CSS by not allowing you to use external stylesheets along with other limitations.
Many HTML tags are replaced or supplemented with AMP-specific ones including embedding objects and creating forms. AMP supports analytics and ads, but they are both curtailed. It is still a developing technology so third party support increases with time.
Officially, it doesn’t affect SEO but AMP-enabled pages should be faster than their counterparts, which does affect your rankings. Google could quickly turn on the afterburners in encouraging AMP adoption by making it explicitly a factor in search rankings.
Simply having a responsive website is no longer enough. Now you need an AMP-enabled site too. Tools and plugins are already becoming available to convert your site. The secret sauce of AMP is actually pretty underwhelming. Google simply caches your AMP-enabled site which allows it to be served faster.
My prediction is AMP will become popular for blogs and simple landing pages. If AMP becomes as widespread as Google intends, many sites will migrate to creating mobile apps to get the interactive flexibility they need.
AMP provides some interaction options but using browser-based applications on mobile will become a thing of the past. And that’s the biggest design trend I expect to see in 2018.
— Stephen Gibson, Founder, Vyteo
Heading into 2018, we are bound to see a greater trend towards going mobile and making websites easier to navigate for on-the-go readers.
A few other design options that will be showing up are in-bound videos and full-screen form websites that lead the reader directly to the link they need.
— Tyler Riddell, Vice President of Marketing, eSUB Construction Software
In 2018, web designers are more likely to focus on creating minimalistic website designs that are interactive. Doing away with all the clutter and ensuring that only the absolutely necessary elements are incorporated is going to be the way forward. Thus, offering users a squeaky clean website design that is easy to navigate and aesthetically appealing.
Moving on to the trends, multimedia-rich websites are currently most popular as it helps improve engagement. However, while these websites are visually pleasing and make incorporation of videos and images easier, one needs to ensure that it doesn’t compromise on usability as this would lead to a poor user experience.
Do’s: Ensure the website is SEO-friendly, as this would help facilitate brand visibility. Make sure the web design is responsive. This is important in order to improve site’s ranking as Google has moved on to mobile-first indexing. Focus on creating an AMP enabled website in order to boost website speed on mobile devices, and lastly, website speed is important, both for ranking as well as to enhance user experience. As such, page speed and load time should be a top-priority.
Don’ts: In order to avoid issues of low-quality websites that are too cumbersome, un-optimized, difficult to navigate and doesn’t convert, it is essential to work with a professional web designing company who’ll ensure the website is well-balanced and comprise of all the latest technologies.
To sum it up, I would like to add that to build a great website, one needs to think like a user. This would enable you to create a website that is user-focused, simple to use and navigate, which, in turn, will boost sales and conversion rates for your client’s.
— Nirav Dave, Co-Founder & CTO, Capsicum Mediaworks
The Future of Web Design is the future of User Interface (UI), which is co-joined to the User Experience (UX) because their objective is the same: to facilitate the sales funnel.
This can best be achieved by increased collaboration at the onset between Designers/Developers, SEO Marketers, and Web Content Developers.
The SEOs’ need for more content on web pages to achieve higher rankings sometimes does not mesh well with maintaining clean design. One solution is for full-screen video, on home and category pages, to instantly capture users’ attention and involvement, possibly leading to higher conversions.
For those concerned that full-screen video will impact load times, cinemagraphs, which are video snippets, could be used to demonstrate 360° views on product pages.
Do: Consider UI that converts such as scroll-triggered animations. These enhance the user experience and prompt increased engagement (hopefully influence conversions, also). Simple to implement, these animations can be used to promote top-of-the-line and/or to herald new product releases, and have great visual, and sales funnel impact.
Don’t: Phase out the hamburger menu. Users dislike it as it can be sticky and cumbersome on larger websites. Instead, they prefer top and side navigation which require fewer clickthroughs to reach the information/products/services they are searching for.
What’s hot now is creating an upscale ambiance and getting the message across instantly using screen-wide typography superimposed over high-resolution, full-screen images.
— Chris Eglevsky, Production and Design Department Manager, Active Web Group
Designers have more room for creativity in layout and content and 2017 and onward have seen a real change in content placement: less boxy, unbalanced layouts use controlled chaos and less harmony in Typography/Photography and Interface, not perfectly aligned layouts, elements with different paddings or overlapping.
While interesting and playful, Unbalanced Design can interfere with the layout structure, making the browsing experience and access to information harder for users.
- Use imbalanced layouts as playful elements between well structured and aligned content
- Use overlapping elements only on big enough typography with good contrast and/or white space
- Use unbalanced layouts in heavy content pages
- Use it if your audience/target isn’t appropriate for this type of layouts
- Use it without at least some basic alignment. It should be consistent with the web page
When it comes to minimalism, the use of white space is evolving.
Web designers use less details to drive the user’s eyes to specific areas. Little navigation dots, arrows, underscores or geometrical figures are getting popular in minimalistic design as they help add a subtle note as separators, balancers, or pointers to content/calls to action.
Clearly, mobile is having its impact here as well as loading time.
Although little details can help draw attention and a nice/subtle touch to the layout, they can also interfere with actual navigation elements and if they have no harmony with actual content. They can then be perceived as noise.
- Use them as pointer/guides
- Give them a purpose. Make that purpose consistent
- Use them on heavy content pages
- Use them randomly with no context/purpose
Other trends for 2018 include the use of large typography as part of the key visual. It is an interesting way to create a very strong contrast between headers and the rest of the content. For example Benjamin Guedj.
The use of SVG (scalable vector graphics) and animated vectors will also be on the rise. SVGs present web designers and developers with a lot of advantages over more traditional image formats like JPG, PNG, and GIF.
This means SVGs are resolution-independent, so they’ll look great on any screen, on any device type. No need to worry about making everything retina-ready. And that’s why they’re becoming more and more the Standard Digital format.
There will also be an improved design-to-development workflow. As design and prototyping tool gain maturity and intuitiveness, internal processes, QA, deliverable, and handoff are becoming more and more flawless and visual and facilitating a better communication.
— Steffen Ploeger, SEO Specialist, 9thCO
I personally believe that we are going to see websites become more and more interactive. One trend that I really see taking off in 2018 is contextual, scroll-triggered animations.
These animations aren’t going to be used to just add flair but rather to serve a purpose. These animations breathe life into a web design and when done correctly can really increase engagement and conversions.
— Anthony Kane, Sr. Conversion Optimization Strategist, 1SEO Digital Agency
The only thing that really matters to site visitors is the information on a website and how easy it is to navigate to the information you need.
Certainly, the cleaner and professional it looks, the more credibility the site may have but the bells and whistles that so many think are important (e.g., carousels, sliders, auto-play audio/video) are just fluff to pump up the ego of the site owner and, more often than not, a negative experience for users.
The trend for 2018 will be the same as it was for 2017 — designing a fast and easy to use mobile version of a website.
Whether it is making your site responsive or having a dedicated site just for mobile phones, the growing number of people using phones as their main, and in some cases, sole website device, makes creating a mobile-friendly environment more important now, and in the future, more important than anything you can do.
— Dave Hermansen, CEO, Store Coach
Definitely micro-interactions. While it’s certainly not a new trend, it’s been gaining in popularity from both a design and marketing perspective.
Micro-interactions can enhance your site’s overall UX by improving the visitor experience, making it easy for them to accomplish simple things (such as liking a post), and generally help increase your engagement.
— Sherry Holub, Creative Director, JVM Design
For sure, one of the stronger web design trends is a stronger focus on user experience. Besides making websites load lightning fast, micro-interactions which guide users towards their next actions will become more and more popular in 2018.
These are already an accepted mechanism within modern SaaS application UIs, so it’s only natural that they will now spill over into mainstream websites.
These typically including such stuff as throbbing buttons (so you know that something is clickable), interactive help on forms or otherwise, and micro usability tutorials to ensure users don’t get stuck and are guided towards intended actions.
Besides UX, these micro-interactions can also help to improve conversions.
— David Attard, Founder, CollectiveRay
One major trend we are expecting for 2018 is a focus on optimized website architecture. It is no longer enough for a website to look good; it should also be structured in a way that allows users and web crawlers to easily navigate the site.
Website design will be less about the design of individual pages and more about the structure and user experience of the domain as a whole.
One major part of this will revolve around content organization. Content will be formed by identifying main themes or topics and then writing about subtopics within each theme.
This type of organization not only helps build your authority on subject matter, but it also helps readers find what they are looking for.
— Chelsea Trautman, PR and Communications Specialist, Matrix Marketing Group
The year 2017 has proven to be a year of glittering advancements in the eCommerce scene, and in this age of instant gratification, consumers are all about the NOW.
They want their questions answered right away. They expect quality customer service right away. And of course, they want their products ASAP. They also want to shop the very instant inspiration hits them.
A few key features, functionalities, and processes that will help give your business the edge it needs to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of eCommerce include:
- Personalized Experience
- Sensory Search
- Simplicity for the Customer
- Mobile Commerce
- AI for the Back Office
- Digital Assistance, and
- Real-Time Customer Assistance.
— Madeline Familia, Founder, Creative Voices PR
Personally, I predict we’ll see a real rise in the use of cinemagraphs, especially in e-commerce.
Currently, we see cinemagraphs used on modern websites to give a dynamic edge to static images and capture engagement. In 2018, I can see these being utilized more effectively to showcase products.
Not only are they smaller in size than videos, which is beneficial for page load time, but there is also evidence that they help increase conversions when used on product pages.
Thanks to technological advancements in smartphone cameras and apps, it’s now much easier to create great quality cinemagraphs yourself, without the need for professional equipment.
Haptics on responsive devices
The term ‘haptic’ refers to anything related to the sense of touch. Haptic technology is used to enhance a user’s experience as they operate an application. They have been part of electronic devices such as games consoles for a long time, and ever since, I have been eagerly anticipating their introduction to websites.
More recently, we’ve seen smartphone devices take haptic technology to a new level by including them subtly on their user interface designs. Introducing them to web design can increase engagement whilst adding depth and texture to a design.
— Robbie Shoker, Head of Design, Eastside Co
The year 2018 is going to be all about efficiency, speed, and performance. With the continuing trend towards users viewing the web on mobile devices and Google’s growing insistence on fast websites for its search rankings, we’re going to see a focus on quick-loading websites.
A lot of this will be done on the back end of websites — optimizations of code and of images in particular. But it will also manifest in the design of sites.
Less flash and more functionality is going to be the way forward, with UIs that make it near impossible for users (who are now less internet proficient than ever) to get confused.
Simple, sleek, and swift is the design of 2018.
— Jordan Harling, Digital Strategist, Roman Blinds Direct
For me, the future of design has arrived: Motion Design. It will be the biggest trend of 2018, but be careful to limit its use.
Even though this method of design has existed for decades, in the past 10 years it has experienced exponential growth thanks to the digital revolution.
Motion design is, in other words, the art of giving life to your graphics through movement.
The idea is that you can create a design that responds immediately to the user’s actions. The motion should seem natural, in the same way that things move around you in real life.
Here is an example of a simple web/app password.
An example of this is AlfredService. Upon entering their website you can play with it and experiment with its functionality as you scroll down. Although it is very attractive, the design is extremely overloaded. And in the end, this creates problems for it to be understood quickly and efficiently by the end client.
In fact, I believe that motion design is by itself adding a new level of depth to interactive design, which was always about the art of connecting the dots and telling stories that allow the users to use our products and achieve their goals.
Click to see an example of a progress/loading bar.
The difference is that before there was no motion and for the user the dots were difficult to connect visually. What motion is providing is the possibility of communicating even better, which makes it easier, and in a more fluid way, for the user to understand your work.
Here an example of a simple submit button and complete task.
Additionally, you can use motion design in videos that explain to your users the products or services that you offer. An excellent example of this is by Lettuce App.
I recommend that you keep your animations to a minimal level. Use them only when they have significant value because they can be a cause of distraction for your users, ending up in lower conversions, when in reality you are seeking just the opposite.
— Cristian Rennella, Design Director, oMelhorTrato.com
Just like technology, website design is constantly evolving. Phrases like “that’s so last year” can be heard regularly in the studio.
For 2018, we are looking towards creating complete seamless experiences between desktop and mobile with a customized information display based on personal preferences, user history, location and style.
Also, with the explosion of virtual reality, we see web design shifting to integrate more VR while the traditional navigation area detaches itself from the top bar.
— Yvette Perullo, Lead Designer, Bartlett Interactive
As mobile phones are now the primary device used for browsing the web, we can expect to see no shortage of mobile-first design.
In particular, the use of “cards.” Think Pinterest and other websites which utilize these smaller organizational blocks of content. Cards adapt to responsive design easily and their simplicity appeals to many users.
Trust and authenticity will continue to be an important aspect of web design/development in 2018. Website visitors want to ensure that their personal information is kept private and secure.
An SSL certificate allows for a secure connection from web server to browser. Having a secure site is also favorable in the eyes of Google and can potentially increase your rankings.
While stock photography isn’t likely to disappear completely anytime soon, we can expect to see a stronger focus on professional photography. More and more companies are turning to professional photographers to depict their businesses and employees in a more personal light.
Similarly, full-width videos are also likely to become more prevalent.
Other trends we may see:
- Persistent/Sticky menus that scroll from the bottom up instead of the top.
- Hamburger menus on desktop sites in lieu of traditional navigation bars.
- Full-screen forms.
— Jason Martino, Lead Web Developer, ePage City
Security is an ongoing issue and HTTPS has become a must. Previously it was only used by secure sites (like banks) but it is starting to become popular with regular websites.
Not only is this security great for protecting your customer’s data but Google is now also using it as a ranking factor. So in terms of protecting your customers and improving your SEO, HTTPS is a must for 2018.
Having a clean looking website is already a trend and this will continue to increase into 2018. Users are sick of seeing unwanted pop-ups and flashy images trying to get them to click or provide email addresses.
Having a clean website will look good and it also increases the loading speed which further improves the customer experience as well as helping with your SEO.
— David Dietrich, Director, Fair Angle
A-symmetrical layouts will be the trend in 2018.
I believe we’ll continue to see more and more layouts break away from the typical large hero on top followed by chunky horizontal sections.
As flexbox has finally become widely supported by browsers and users demand more editorial styles, we’ll soon see the biggest swap to more staggered and a-symmetrical layouts happening in 2018.
This means more scroll-worthy design templates and a further removal from the “above the fold” terminology that’s fading out of our design dialect.
Also, with the popularity of personalization over the past two years, 2018 will be the year of finding new ways to engage users in a way that will provide info back to businesses so that they can continue to personalize the online experience.
I believe many who take up this trend will look to AI to assist them in this process so data collection and response won’t be a manual one.
— Ariana Kamar, Web designer/Digital Strategist, The Design Executive
True empathy will come more into the mainstream. Rather than just trying to create an experience that just says it has the user in mind, more time will be spent to truly understand the user and their needs.
There will be more attention as well to the rouge users who use the product slightly differently to the norm.
Emergence of AR
Apple has brought our more apps and technology to support this. It’s already been done by other companies too, so Augmented Reality is now becoming more prominent and more feasible for developers.
There will be continued growth in strategic and personalized content.
With the rising demand for articles and text-based literature, the need to help the user find what they are looking for or even discover will become more and more prominent.
There will be more use of animation and cinematography on sites.
While not being too heavy and slow, the use of motion to convey the brand’s message will become increasingly more common.
Motion will also be used to increase engagement and conversion by drawing attention to critical points of the page and push towards key conversion points.
We are seeing more app-type behavior coming from the web, like push notifications and onboarding on websites.
More agencies are now doing Product Design Sprints which help clients find a solution to their problem a lot quicker and pain-free.
Digital specialists discuss potential ideas to find the right solution, create a prototype and test it with real users within a week.
As not every company wants to spend significant amounts of money and time on full product development, PDS is a great way of finding out whether the product will work.
— Dan Kelly, UX Designer, Degree 53
Web design is forever pushing the limits thanks to new ways of thinking and advances in technology and you don’t just have to work on creating websites on the back end to be able to see this.
Thanks to a boom in blog culture, we are seeing people steering clear of the 4D images that once dominated the web and we are beginning to see people showcased more in imagery.
We are also seeing transformations in popular layouts with brands like Nike and Vice adopting the card layout which was once mainly popular in blogs.
We are beginning to see more websites which break away from the grid, thanks to new front end builders such as Divi allowing you to shun the limitations of the old symmetric and static layouts.
People are also thinking more about how users engage with the elements on their sites, whether it’s preferring to purchase items from another human being or how an element entering a page may make them want to interact with it.
Keep your eyes peeled for the era of the video and cleverly thought out element animation. However, make sure you are considering the impacts it has on your site speed and UI as an animation is useless if it makes your site unusable.
— Robyn Strafford, UX & Web Designer, BowlerHat
There you go — 25 designers, start-up founders, digital strategists, and other experts have weighed in on what they think the top web design trends will be in 2018.
From micro-interactions to videos, cinemagraphs, and the use of cards, white space, and virtual/augmented reality, the consensus seems to be that the top web design trends will focus on the user, on their experience and on converting leads to sales.
How about you? What do you think will the top web design trends will be for 2018?