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5 Upcoming Web Design Trends of 2018


16th April 2018

We’re already a quarter of the way into 2018, which is as good a time as any to pause, take stock and looking around us: what are the emerging web design trends of 2018? How has the year gone so far for designers, and what lessons and latest fashions can we take from the front-end of the year? In short, what should your site be doing to look like it’s keeping up with the crowd?

Web design trends should, like any fad or fashion, be used sparingly. It’s important to know what the latest developments are, but not necessarily essential that you use them all at once. Understanding the general lie of the web design land is crucial; being a slave to fashion will, in design as in life, only ensure you date yourself faster.

So take instruction and inspiration from the latest trends, but don’t make your site dependent upon them. Add accents to your current site by tapping into the newest design thinking, but at the same time don’t abandon the lodestars of usability and clarity that define good design whatever the year.

All those caveats given, however, what are the cool kids doing in 2018?

Web Animation

First and foremost, they seem to be into web animation. Flat design is being enlivened by subtle movement – and sometimes not-so-subtle! Animating transitions, or featuring animated characters throughout your design to add a little spark or interest, is the new normal.

We’re seeing more and more uses of web animation because they make ideas and interfaces easier to understand. Animation can direct and channel a user’s attention in helpful directions, enhancing their experience of a website, as well as also adding personality to it and its brand.

Bold Colours

Indeed, adding personality is a big element of recent design trends. Bold colours are increasingly a “thing”, which exciting and unusual hues standing out more and more from designs and replacing the once dominant whites and cool greys that defined a more minimalist approach to design.

There will continue to be more uses of adventurous colour in 2018 because getting out the paint pot can likewise help draw your users’ attention to specific areas of your site – and make the whole look and feel of your online home memorable and quirky.

Creative Typography

Adding that additional layer of character is probably the reason behind the explosion in creative typography, too. Don’t hide behind Helvetica – we’re seeing increasing experimentation in the realm of type, with all sorts of interesting and attractive fonts deployed to hold a user’s attention and add emphasis to key elements of a site’s copy.

Semi-Flat Designs

All of this is moving away from the revolution of a few years ago: we went from skeuomorphic design trend, which sought to make websites look and feel like their real-world equivalents, to a flat design fashion which emphasised the artificiality and sleekness of the online environment. Now, we’re in a “Semi-Flat Design” stage, in which sites are still sleek but gradients and shadows are being used to add nuance to a website.

Used in moderation, those gradients and shadows – like animation, colour and typography – can provide better aesthetics to a site. The final trend for 2018, however, is all about functionality: the increasing flexibility of mobile websites.

Priority on Mobile Browsing

Mobile phone browsing has now overtaken desktop browsing, which means that developers are focusing more and more on the mobile audience. That means more intuitive microinteractions and gestures will be incorporated into every design, to improve the browsing experience of mobile websites. Form and functionality: enhancing both is what defines the upcoming web design trends of 2018.

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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5 Tips for Improving Your Website Design


13th March 2018

Tips for improving your website design might at first glance seem too good to be true: like every other “weird trick” online – from how to lose weight to how to grow a better beard – web design tips can have the air of the con. Surely no complex issue can be boiled down to a few cute shortcuts?

Of course not. Web design is an art and a science, and you’d be best off engaging an expert (like us!) when considering building a website for your business. A few “weird tricks” won’t build you a proper website; it’ll barely help you understand how one works.

That said, there are some basic principles which underpin all good design that can help even a layperson perceive how their website might look better – and which, in the hands of a professional, can make a massive difference.

Websites are, of course, ten a penny these days – if they’re to stand out, they need to look good. That’s where some rules of thumb can come in really hand. Think of them as ways to avoid common errors which undermine websites that might otherwise have been rather more impressive.

1. Simplify your site.

Clutter is the enemy of good design. A page packed with unnecessary elements might feel like one which imparts a lot of information, but in fact, it will do the opposite – because no one will bother to read it. Be ruthless with what you include; make your web pages clean and lean.

 

2. Reduce colours.

Who doesn’t love a pop of colour, a splash of vibrancy? You can, though, have too much of a good thing. Try to use one or two colours with neutral hues which can complement each other. Loud Hawaiian shirts offend because they’re too busy – don’t let your site make the same mistake.

 

3. Stick with two fonts.

Typography adds character, but it can also be distracting. By limiting yourself to two typefaces, you’ll get the best out of your fonts: they’ll offer variation and visual interest without crowding each other out and making everything seem confused.

 

4. Don’t forget mobile.

This is a biggie, but it feels bizarre that in 2018 we still need to say it. Mobile browsing has been a thing for a while now, has never been more important than now – and yet you still see site after site which doesn’t work when you’re on the go. Stop it, designers! Make sure your site is responsive.

 

5. Have a plan.

Never, ever start a site without a clear sense of where you’re going with it. Know which pages are important, how your users will find them, and where everything is going to go.  Map your site so you know how it will be used. Only then should you start building … because usability is the goal of all good design.

These aren’t solutions to everything – there’s no such thing as a silver bullet in design. At the same time, there are simple mistakes you can avoid and basic principles you should always follow. And that’s why these are our top five tips to improve your web design.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

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How To Ensure Consistency in Web Design


6th March 2018

Ensuring consistency in web design is crucial. Indeed, any area of design can succeed or fail on the level of how well its various elements sit with each other – and how consistently. Design is ultimately a form of communication, and if we are to get anything across effectively there must be an element of constancy in our delivery.

In design, this most often means achieving a certain harmony – between colours and elements, shapes and sizes. Whatever identity your web designer intends to create for your company, the consistency with which they apply and repeat each element will go a long way towards ensuring that they achieve their aim.

 

Repeat Layout Styles

For example, repeating layout styles is a common way to give each page a fixed and predictable form. Consistent layouts are important if visitors to your website are going to easily find what they need: skipping between pages is one thing, but if each one is different it can be time-consuming to maintain your bearings. Pick a layout and stick with it: it will pay dividens.

Your aim should be to make your visitors feel comfortable, even at home; consistency in web design is about achieving just this, so that your website comes to feel intuitive in its familiarity.

 

Consistent Branding

So keep your branding consistent. Just as repeated layouts can help users settle into a rhythm on your website, so branding – a stable of colours, typefaces, logos and even images to which you return throughout the site in regulated ways – can help a user orient themselves. The subtle cues of branding work because they remind us where we are – this works on a website just as much as it does in a branch of McDonalds.

Ensuring consistency in web design is about building an experience that your user understands on a subconscious level: if a button was red on page one and did X, then a red button should also do C on page two. Branding helps direct users to expect certain effects, and helps them navigate spaces virtual and physical.

 

Intuitive Navigation

On which note … use intuitive website navigation. All these cues and clues will be for nothing if your menu makes no sense. Your users should understand a lot about your website just from your header and navigation links: make your signposting clear and simple, and arrange your content clearly and concisely.

Of course, relevant and good quality copy and content is key here: your users won’t thank you for helping them find what they need if when they get there it’s not much good. But taking that as read, if your users can find what they’re looking for easily, arrive at it simply, and feel immediately at home with what they find … then congratulations: you’ve learned how to ensure consistency in your web design!

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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Coventry: City of Culture 2021 … and Us


13th February 2018

As Coventry is named City of Culture 2021, here in the Image+ offices we’re wearing huge smiles (and possibly a couple of party hats).

We’re proud of our Coventry roots – we’ve been based here for nearly twenty years, and can’t think of anywhere we’d rather base ourselves. Our offices at Electric Wharf on the city’s regenerated canal network are everything that made Coventry a successful candidate for City of Culture 2021: vibrant, buzzing, forward-thinking but with links to an incredibly rich past.

Coventry, City of Culture 2021 (yes, we like the sound of that): it has it all. Medieval heritage in the cathedral quarter, mid-twentieth-century modernism in its remarkable architecture, passionate grassroots commitment to arts of all kinds … it’s a genuinely exciting city, and the rest of the UK is about to find out why in spades.

The win for our city is doubly sweet because we had a small part in it. A while back, we competed to become the designers of the bid team’s website and digital presence – and won. So we feel we contributed in a small way to what was, of course, a fantastic pitch. (And a winning one – did we mention that Coventry is City of Culture 2021?)

It’s the diversity of Coventry that I think helped tip the balance in its favour: it welcomes everyone and has room for everything. At Image+, we have on staff huge fans of Shakespeare and massive football nuts, petrol heads and live music goers. Coventry and its surrounding area caters to us all.

The website we built for the bid reflected this vibrancy: bright and colourful and with plenty going on, it also crafted a single identity for the bid and sought to bring together an awful lot of fizzing activity. It used events, social media, videos and bold colours and graphics to really bring home the bid’s particular character and personality. We’re pretty proud of what we contributed.

Coventry has its own particular energy, and the challenge for the bid was bottling that to present it to the panel of judges in distilled form. The website we built was a part of that process, of course, and we are made up that we helped in a small way to win this prize for our city. But the real winners are the people of Coventry themselves – and we’re pleased as punch to be a part of that crowd.

In short: here’s to Coventry, City of Culture 2021!

We’re not going to get tired of saying that.

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 76834780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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How Can You Make Your Website Stand Out?


6th February 2018

Making your website stand out is ever more difficult. In today’s forest of web pages, how can your single tree ever hope to stand out from the crowd? What was once known as “surfing” the internet is more like “wading”; to mix metaphors, it can be hard to see the wood for all those trees.

The good news is that there are still plenty of ways to make sure that your website is a cut above the rest. A lot of this has to do with simple design principles. When applied well, good design simply makes a site look right – and it’s surprising how few sites, in truth, fully achieve this goal.

Layout & Structure

First and foremost, sort out your structure. Using a good layout is key to attracting and then retaining what we in the trade call “eyeballs”. If your navigation is clear and your site convenient to use, your visitors will like what they see – and make use of your pages again and again. In other words, you’ll stand out as a place to hang out.

Branding

Consistent branding can really help achieve this. A recognisable brand builds your reputation and inspires confidence. A good brand can provide visual clues, too, that can bind a site together like the egg in a cake mixture. Think carefully about colours, logos, and typography – make your site a uniform experience as much as a collection of pages.

Graphics

Indeed, using images and graphics appropriately can be a really powerful means of making an impact. If branding is the visual framework of a site, then photography and illustration acts as the decorative detail. Great imagery supplies visual flare and interest, making a site beautiful to look at as you use it – and every eyeball likes to be entertained!

Content

Finally, consider your content. The text and video you utilise to expand on and detail your messaging needs to reflect the identity of your brand. Your copy should be easy to read and characterful, but not distracting or overly wordy. Likewise, video is increasingly important on many sites, and offers a very dynamic way of supplementing your content.

Just remember to make sure that everything – video, photography, colours – are crisp and vibrant, the best quality you can produce. Muddy graphics or sub-standard video will reflect badly on you; however good the design of a site, if the content is wanting then you will only be able to stand out so far.

Ultimately, your goal is to stand out as much as possible – to be, at your best, head and shoulders above the other sites in your field. Clear design, consistent branding, and quality content are the best ways to achieve that. Get these basics right, and you’ll be amazed by the results.

Essentially, we’re telling you to get a good designer (fortunately, we know some!). It’s not rocket science: great design is how you can make your website stand out.

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 76834780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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3 Great Techniques for Engaging Typefaces


23rd January 2018

Typefaces can be the poor man of web design. There’s so much else that’s novel or exciting about digital platforms – animation! video! parallax scrolling! – that the humble font can be overlooked.

This, however, would be a mistake. In fact, bold and striking typefaces have been one of the big trends in web design over the last year or so. That’s because they can be very effective at engaging visitors straight away, as soon as they land on your homepage.

A great typeface makes a statement almost subliminally. Getting your fonts right can in this way add some serious punch to your design – and give real character to your brand. If you play your typeface cards right, your visitors will be hooked instantly.

So what’s the secret? A lot of the typeface trick, as in any other aspect of design, is in understanding your brand and expressing it elegantly in your choices. That said, there are some elements of typography that you can consider in order to hit the right balance for you.

Be Minimal – but Dramatic

The temptation when toying with typefaces is to go wild. The problem with showily fabulous fonts, though, is that they can be distracting. Take comic sans, that much-hated font which purports to have lots of character. The reason designers hate it is because it’s unbalanced – its balance and shape and legibility are all compromised by its desire to be so kooky.

Don’t fall into this trap. Use a simple font that makes a big impact. Consider fonts like Fat-Frank, Frontage or Poly. These sorts of font will convey meaning and attract – but not distract – attention.

Keep Creatively Simple

Don’t over-use effects or point sizes. Be creative, but don’t go overboard. In just the same way that you want your typeface to speak eloquently but not always shout, think carefully about how to use it. Maybe you could do something very straightforward like using ALL CAPS to make your message loud and clear, instead of using italics, underlines and bold? It’s worth considering.

Integrated Images

If bold typefaces are a big trend in minimal web design right now, so too is integrated video and animation. The great news is that you can do both at the same time.

By using bleed – that is, placing an object in front of the text – or including video in the background of a text area, you can add visual interest to your site whilst still letting your text do the talking. Maybe your text can extend beyond the bounds on an image, or be partially obscured by one? This is a trick often used in comic books to make panels look dynamic – it can work online too.

In short, typefaces can make text sing. Great-looking text seals the deal with customers online, so don’t ignore the writing on your website … or it might wind up on the wall for you!

Contact Image Plus for Responsive Web Design

If you need a web design or just want someone to check if your website is already responsive then speak to our experts. Our Web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 76834780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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