UI design, also known as user interface design, is a design process used to build digital interfaces for websites, applications and software. UI design is where a designer focuses on style and creativity, thereby making the user experience easy to use and pleasurable.
User interfaces come in 3 main forms which are listed below:
GUI is a computer’s desktop that users interact with visual digital representation.
VUI is for users that interact with voice. Smart assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google use voice controlled interfaces.
This is when a user interacts with 3D designs with movement. Gesture based interfaces include swiping and tapping on your smart device and virtual reality games.
The users who visit your site care about usability, and this affects the website’s like-ability. It’s about ensuring your users can get tasks done with simplicity. The user wants to enjoy their journey, when a design can deliver what they want and create a personalised experience, this can ensure they return to your site in the future. Good user interface should also communicate your brand values and gain the user’s trust.
UI stands for user interface, it is visual points that a user is able to interact with. This can include screens, touchscreen, keyboards and sounds. UI is about the visual that a user sees and aesthetic that draws a user to interact with. For example, a bold add to basket button on a website, this is important because it encourages users to buy a product and at the same time making it easier for the customer to do so.
UX is the user experience, it concentrates on a user’s contact throughout their journey, and how effective it is. UX works side by side with the user interface, however unlike UI it works on what the customer doesn’t see. For example, getting from one page to another, UX is about the structure and the journey of getting there, while UI is at the front and shows visual design.
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Not all web design is glamorous. As beautiful as a website can be, some elements of any site can seem more workaday by comparison. But that doesn’t mean they are any less important – or require any less thought.
Take the humble 404 error page. This is the website’s fall-back position, it’s a safety net: if any user clicks a broken link, or directly types an incorrect URL, or if for any other reason the page they are seeking does not exist … they will reach the 404 error page. The 404 error page is what tells a user they’ve reached a dead end and need to back up. It’s a crucial element of wayfinding and an important part of any navigational tree.
There’s no way around it: encountering a 404 can be disappointing, even frustrating. This means that a good 404 page softens the blow in some way – keeps a user engaged, rather than letting them click off your site in despair. It will also enable a user to find their way again, and get back to whatever they were doing before the broken link interrupted their user journey.
A good 404 error page requires consideration, then. First and foremost, it should be smart. Ensure your brand is strongly in evidence throughout: make the page particularly attractive, funny or interactive in order to make not find the content you were looking for itself an amusing or diverting experience.
Take the LEGO 404 page: it uses a bold hero image to fantastic effect, and humour to empathise with the user’s frustration. Critically, it provides a link straight back to the shop and the reassurance that everything is still “awesome”. The goal here is to treat the user to a beautiful looking page that raises a smile rather than a frown – and helps get a potential customer straight back into the sales funnel.
The 404 page for the productivity tool Slack is even more impressive: its background scrolls horizontally, offering serious visual interest on a page which could easily simply be a line of text saying “sorry, nothing here”. Putting the extra effort into a 404 page, however, pays dividends: it transforms what might be a frustrating experience into what feels almost like a reward.
Designing a good 404 page, in other words, will increase your conversion rate – because it will help you retain users. The elements to bear in mind in seeking to achieve this included branding, trust-building and fun: your brand will remind your users of why they have chosen your website in the first place; explaining what the 404 is, and providing a route out of it, will build trust and reduce bounce rates; and injecting a bit of fun will ensure that what might have been a poor experience for a user is elevated to at the least an amusing diversion.
Beyond all this, keep things simple and clear: the user should know immediately what has happened, and be given a rapid route back to the rest of the website. Clarity is key because confusion results in click-outs. All of the work you put into a 404 page shouldn’t complicate its central purpose, then – merely enhance the experience.
Simplicity, brand continuity, fun: that’s how to choose the best 404 error page design for your website.
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Designing and building a website is hard. We know that – and it’s why we recommend most businesses hire professionals to do it for them. There are a lot of variables to consider when embarking on a web development project, and it’s all too easy for an amateur to let one or two slide.
Crucially, very often the first thing to go in non-professional websites is accessibility. This is a bad thing for a range of reasons: ethically, it excludes people from enjoying your site; commercially, it limits your audience. These are both bad things, and it’s critical that developers consider accessibility – and incorporate it into all of their builds.
But what is accessibility? At its most basic level, web accessibility is about taking into consideration the differing needs of users. This shouldn’t be optional – indeed, in the public sector it isn’t, and websites designed for those organisations must tick a series of accessibility boxes to comply with the regulation.
Private firms, too, should take note. For example, incorporating ALT tags on every image – essentially, a short description embedded in the image tag so that browsers with vision impairment can have their browser read out the imagery as well as the text of a site – will improve a site’s rating with Google, which also rewards accessibility features.
The good news is that tools exist to check a site has made the necessary provisions. WAVE, for example, helps businesses and developers alike to evaluate their sites against all the relevant accessibility criteria. There are Chrome and Firefox extensions for this available, and a variety of APIs for more advanced users. WAVE gathers data on a site and suggestions where improvements are possible, making achieving a truly accessible site a lot easier and much less of a guessing game.
Fundamentally, an accessible website will have clear typography that uses fonts carefully and consistently to structure a page. It will present that text readably and in a way that can be rearranged by the user (to make the type bigger, for instance). The contrast ratio between background and foreground will be about 7:1; alt-text labels on images will be present; images will never serve as text, the copy will be simple, and the user interfaces clear. The animation won’t be distracting, and interactions – whether by keyboard, mouse or gesture – are straightforward and consistent.
We know that’s a lot to think about. But all that should also emphasise how generally applicable questions of accessibility are. These things are not “nice to haves” – they are essentials. It’s worth making this sort of investment in accessibility because the tweaks to designs that are made to meet its requirements are valuable to everyone. We’ve all used a frustrating website that was difficult to navigate – and we’ve all left it pretty quickly. Accessibility is about reducing the obstacles to users that your site presents. It makes it easier to use, for everyone.
Not all bad UX is inaccessible; not all accessible ones are good. But all frustrating websites are failures, and this makes accessibility a key tool for all good developers. A great site is easy to look at and understand, intuitive to use and extremely stable across a range of platforms. Achieving this should be the aim of every development team – and every business.
Our designers and developers can help. We’ve got the experience of building accessible websites for various sectors and industries. Get in touch with our team to discuss your requirements for the project.
Now we’re at the mid-point of the year, it’s a good moment to sit back and reflect on where web design trends have taken us so far. We posted back in November 2020 (which seems a lifetime ago already!) about the directions we thought web design might take – but have we been proven right so far?
Back then, we thought improved UX, dark modes, virtual assistants and animated 3D elements would be the big noises in 2021 web design. We were right, on balance – but there have also been a few additional trends that we didn’t see coming.
In part, this is because 2021 web design has been developing at an unusual pace. Web development is always a fast-moving discipline, but – perhaps because due to the pandemic we have all been spending so much time online – this year, designers have been moving faster than ever to enhance and improve online experiences.
So, for example, we were spot on (if we say so ourselves) to identify animation and 3D elementsas oncoming trends for 2021: realism in web design has been a big thing so far this year, and everything from splashes of colour to representations of physical products has been given a decidedly three-dimensional sheen this year. This adds real depth to any website, and visual interest to boot. Both help sites retain users’ attention and get them interacting.
But what of the trends we didn’t see coming? Of these, horizontal scrolling has been the biggest surprise: perhaps influenced by the proliferation of landscape-formatted tablets, developers have been making the most of flipping pages side-to-side rather than from top to bottom. Not only does this mimic the familiarity of a book; it creates beautiful wide spaces on pages that can be filled with really attractive content.
The only note of caution here – given that the trend, and 2021, is still only half-developed – is that switching something as fundamental as the scrolling method can lead to confusion in users. Will they adapt to horizontal scrolling readily enough? Only time will tell, so it’s probably a good idea to restrict for now any implementation of this trend to sites that are used by more tech-savvy users.
Similarly interesting is the development of parallax effects in web design this year. This involves the building-in of layers to a website which – when a user scrolls – display themselves sequentially. The page, in a sense, does not move on scrolling: rather, the users cycle through the layers. This can give a site a lot of visual flairs: words might appear one after another in a banner motto, for example, or a picture may slowly coalesce like a jigsaw puzzle.
Alongside the use of horizontal scrolling, parallax effects are giving websites a serious facelift – which can help refresh the jaded pallets of web users getting bored with the same old sites. But, like any new trend, parallax can be over-used: it is always better as a subtle additional flavour to a website, rather than the whole dish. Too many layers can get frustrating, after all – sometimes users just want to scroll to their content, not the next effect!
Finally, and this trend in fact links to one of our predictions in 2020, web design has gotten comfortable, with colours that are easy on the eye and fonts that are decidedly retro. Back in November last year, we said dark mode was here to stay – because users who are on screens a lot need a break for their eyes. Similarly, softer colours and familiar typefaces make life a lot easier for users: no only do they help the eyes, but they make everything just feel a little more welcoming and comfy, like a pair of faded old shoes.
So: comfort, space and scrolling are the three big trends so far this year. Given how much more we are all using the web, perhaps that’s no surprise. We saw this coming, but perhaps not quite in some of the shapes, they eventually took. Developers are shifting their methods faster than ever, so these are very much only the biggest website design trends of 2021 so far!
If you’d like a website that keeps up with the latest trends and technologies then speak to our friendly experts. Our web designers and web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and Manchester and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact and speak to our team.
Sustainability isn’t a buzzword. As the global economy emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability looks set to be a key plan of recovery. Many advanced economies are looking to the potential of green industries to offer growth.
This effort will touch every sector, not just the obvious ones of renewable energy and so on. Web design is no different, although at first blush it may seem difficult to imagine what ‘sustainable web design’ might look like.
In fact, though, a lot of thought within the industry has already been put towards sustainability in website design – and how to achieve it. There’s even a website-cum-manifesto for it. It has six core principles which it says are characteristics all sustainable web design should be: clean, efficient, open, honest, regenerative, and resilient.
What does this mean? Essentially, websites burn power. Accessing data requires electricity; hosting data requires electricity. 3.8% of all global carbon emissions can be traced back to these actions. Sustainable web design is thus about reducing the demands made on infrastructure by websites.
Just because websites are paperless, and designers can work remotely, it doesn’t mean that the web is not drawing on infrastructure. Not only that but the more it draws on that infrastructure, the less stable it looks for the future. Sustainable web design creates websites which in turn create the potential for us still to be able to access websites a century from now.
CO2stats.com estimates even a basic web page creates about 20 milligrams of carbon dioxide for every second it is viewed on a desktop computer. Sustainable web design aims to reduce those emissions. In an age when more and more of the economy takes place virtually, we are only going to be using the web more; that means building it sustainably now is critical.
So what do we do? Steve Souders has estimated that around 85% of potential efficiency gains in web design will come from reworking the user interface of a site. That means changing how we code websites in order to make them more environmentally friendly.
Some of this is already in place. Many designers – ours included – already follow a mobile-first policy, and mobile devices consume less power than desktop ones. Using leaner coding techniques – like HTML5 and CSS – will also place less burden on servers. Better user experience design ensures tasks are completed more quickly. Better Search Engine Optimisation means Google will use less energy to list your site.
Many of these are “easy” wins – but they need to adopted strategically and systematically by every designer and across the piste if they are to have a big enough impact to ensure that an increasingly huge web does not consume unsustainable amounts of energy.
Perhaps next to Netflix’s bandwidth usage or the energy consumption of Bitcoin, a few kilobytes here or there seem immaterial. But we all recycle our plastic bottles these days, even if we use only three or four a week. When it comes to sustainability, every little helps. And sustainable web design is no different.
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You don’t need us to tell you that 2020 has been a difficult year. But for web design, it has in some ways been a strong year, too: as stay-in-place orders, lockdowns and other social distancing measured have been put in place to varying degrees worldwide, many of us have been spending more time online. And web design has filled the gap.
In the thick of this unprecedented twelve months, it might seem presumptuous already to be looking forward to 2021, and what that year might hold for web design. But the truth is – as we’ve said many times on this blog – that the best web designers always have an eye on the horizon.
Trends are all well and good, but you want to be ahead of them a little more than you want merely to be following them. Preparing for the next phase of web design is how businesses keep their sites fresh, but also how they prevent running to keep up. Designers should always be planning for the next update.
With that in mind, here are our top four web design trends for 2021 – from 3d web design to UX best practices for eCommerce. These are the four things we think you should have an eye on right now, and be getting ready for 2021 – which we all hope is just as good for web, but a lot better for everyone else, too.
The year 2020 was the year eCommerce became for many their primary means of buying products and services. Long nipping at the heels of traditional retail, due to the pandemic eCommerce has this year dominated. Regardless of what happens in the future, many consumers may have changed their habits for good.
This means that UX best practices for eCommerce websites are even more important than ever: the more we use eCommerce, the more we expect from it. Expect and demand sleeker eCommerce UX for starters: smoother loading, quicker onboarding, easier check-outs. Eliminate all friction in the general on-page experience.
Here’s one way to achieve that: microcopy. A mixture of bold fonts and informal snippets of text can really help users through the maze of buying online. Consumers who buy a lot online get bored easily: bring a brand’s personality into the copy and signposting in your UX and they will stay more engaged. Make the journey clear and fun at the same time.
Many high-end websites now have a simple toggle which users can flick to change the ‘theme’ of the site: from the high-contrast black-on-white style we’re all very familiar with to a more subdued palette of slates and greys. Check out Instagram, Twitter and Apple – all three of these sites feature a dark mode, and they are increasingly popular with users.
Why? They are easier on the eyes in low-light conditions – such as the dark nights when many of us are now sat at home in our lounges. It’s also easy on battery life – no bad thing for harried users. But the contrast with the dominant and opposite trend of decades now also gives dark modes a contemporary edge that feels exciting.
Give your site a dark mode in 2021 – it works functionally and aesthetically.
Many eCommerce sites now incorporate live chat functions, utilising bots to provide users with an easy means of interfacing directly with a brand without requiring the commitment of human resource in the first instance. With the rise of voice interface, too, virtual assistants have become even more intuitive and user-friendly.
It’s true that virtual assistants can be intrusive – too many invitations to chat, or push notifications that appear too early in a user’s visit to your site, can be off-putting. It’s also the case that voice user interface isn’t there yet in terms of full deployability on every site. But the principle of offering some form of responsive interaction element is going nowhere – and designers need to consider it.
3D web design and animation of all kinds add visual interest, layers of depth and engaging texture to a site – and all of those are trends for 2021 that users will soon be trained to expect. Designers who incorporate this sort of aesthetic in their sites will reap dividends for their clients.
Flat graphics have been modish for some time, but the illusion of depth offered by 3D web design is now, here, with a vengeance – graphics which trick the eye into experiencing more than two dimensions in a site will seriously enhance the immersion a user feels. Animation, too, will keep them interested.
The key with this trend is to keep things nimble: if your site loads slowly thanks t all your clever 3D web design and animated elements, few users will stick around long enough to experience them. Load times still matter – so make the right trade-offs.
Ultimately, after all, web design for all purposes is a matter of achieving the correct balance of elements. Don’t be a slavish follower of fashion – but do stay current. Don’t be led by – but keep your eye, then – on these web design trends for 2021.
Anything that incorporates the word ‘design’ can be read by some as being about looks alone: visual flair, a certain style, and aesthetic. But design isn’t a pretty façade – it’s a solid base. It doesn’t make bad things beautiful; it makes good things possible.
Design is, of course, about looking good. But it’s also about beinggood: great design makes things usable as well as attractive. This is as true of web design as it is furniture design: building a great website is all about designing a solid, high-performance platform for the rest of your marketing activity.
A beautiful website is an asset in itself: users will enjoy accessing it, will engage with it more regularly and for longer periods of time, and become loyal customers. The best website design, however, builds into these inherent advantages further capacity that can unlock additional synergies.
To take one example of how this works in practice, consider Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is the suite of tools and techniques by which sites achieve better listings on Google, Yahoo! and the like. Success here is critical, of course, to increase a site’s audience and therefore its revenue.
A well-designed website will incorporate all the necessary elements to make a success of a strong SEO campaign: image alt tags and proper URL conventions, quick loading times and intuitive navigation tree. Even the code used can be reviewed by search engines and put towards a site’s page ranking.
In other words, professional web design makes good SEO performance possible. Any web marketing strategy worth it’s salt will incorporate SEO as a central plank, of course – and that makes design central to its success.
While SEO is underway – and success can take a while – pay per click campaigns can be a great stopgap. But design again comes into play here: fast loading speeds, mobile responsiveness, robust stability and clear content will all ensure that the people who click your ads arrive at a website that looks good to them and converts them quickly.
Funnelling users effectively is also a key aim of email marketing: links in the customised messages sent to subscribers will lead directly back to your website … and all the elements that are important for PPC campaigns stay true for email marketing, too. There are no short-cuts here!
In other words, good web design provides the robust, stable and engaging backdrop against which all of your other marketing to succeed. And that’s how professional web design can help with other marketing strategies?
Few things are as important to an effective website as its navigation. That means menus and structure, buttons and breadcrumbs: essentially the architecture of how a user can quickly and easily find the content they’re looking for.
An easily navigable website situates users clearly, enables them to find their way smoothly, and provides clear guidance as to where – and how – to locate key information. Achieving all of that requires careful thought and close attention to user behaviours.
Keep an eye on your site’s bounce rate. This is a measurement of how soon after arriving at your website the average user leaves it. Most visits last for less than twenty seconds – and that means you’re not converting. Good navigation is one of the key ways sites can persuade users to stay long enough to make a difference.
Make your navigation menu plain and clear. If you try to be clever or creative with your page headings, your user is likely to get lost. Make life easy for them. If you have a Contact Us page, then just call it Contact Us!
Guide them through your site. Include relevant links to further content on each page, use smart design to guide their eye-lines to the important buttons and pages. Keep menu choices concise – seven items or less – and use sidebars to add further information.
The search engines like all of this – short menus, not too many links, clear page headings. That’s great! But equally, menus are meant for humans – and they should be designed primarily with users, not search engines, in mind.
You want to encourage your users to click. Part of this is about using design to draw attention to key actions. But it’s also about using active phrases: “Order Here”, for example, or – as above – good old “Contact Us”. Consider what your audience wants to find, and use appropriate phrasing to emphasise those areas.
Perhaps the majority of your users will log on to your site using mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. That means your navigation needs to work on mobile. It should be smooth and readable on every screen – don’t lose users because your menu won’t expand, or can’t be seen, on mobile!
Search is a fall-back, of course – it’s most useful when all else has failed, and where a user needs to go isn’t clear. But having a Plan B is always a good idea, and search puts a user’s journey back into their hands when necessary.
Follow these rules of thumb and your users will understand how your site is structured – and where to find the content they need. That’s the key goal for any site’s menu – and that’s why these are the definitive website navigation best practices.
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. Call us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our website design specialists.
Does your business have a professionally designed website? Well then, congratulations! You are one step ahead of a lot of your competitors and one step closer to success. The online market is now your oyster!
With the majority of consumers using the internet to find products and services first, businesses with a website have a higher chance of being discoverable and accessed by prospects.
Unfortunately, there are millions of businesses that are in the same boat as you. This makes it extremely competitive – more so for some industries than others. But what if we told you that there are a number of actions you could take to further improve your user experience, traffic and increase your website conversions? Well, there are. And we are here to share some of these steps with you today.
What use is a website if it doesn’t capture any audience? If you want to ensure that your website acts as a tool for attracting prospect leads or conversions then you need to make your website discoverable. That is both for the user and for search engines, such as Google.
You need to ensure that your website is technically sound so that search engines can discover you. There is an endless number of factors that can affect this so if discoverability seems to be an issue for your website it might be wise to seek SEO services from a professional.
One good way of improving your chances of being discovered is by posting regular content related to your niche. This is recommended as Google favours websites that have quality and regularly updated content. To do this you will first need a dedicated post-type template so make sure this is included in your original web design, or seek further developer services.
In this day and age information is more accessible than ever before. Type in a search query and you will receive millions of results – if not billions. This readily available and ever-changing information has also decreased human attention span and patience. This means that unless your content is extremely engaging, not many users will bother to pay attention to it.
Good news is that there are tactics which can help retain the interest of users. One of these is the use of images and videos to capture their interest. In fact, video content is the new future and can increase conversion rate by up to 80%. Ensure that you make use of these features on your website as they can make the difference between converting a lead, or not.
Including actionable conversion points throughout your website – such as newsletter sign-up forms or simply calls to action on landing pages – can greatly increase your site’s effectiveness at capturing leads. Carefully considering the user experience tied to these can also make a huge difference. For example, the positioning of these – ie. above or below the fold – is important to consider based on what the information is. As is ensuring that they are not disruptive to the user – e.g. unoptimized pop-ups which appear before the user can even learn about a product.
If your business model is based on the sale of “off-the-shelf” products or services – and does not require a consultation – then you may benefit from e-commerce solutions on your website. On WordPress sites, this can be easily achieved by asking your developer to instal a plugin such as Woocomerce or Shopify as these offer simple integrations. This will allow users to purchase your product directly from the website speeding up the process, minimising the customer journey and making it more attractive to consumers.
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. Call us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at email@example.com to speak to one of our website design specialists.
We have just launched a newly tailored website for Ludlow Menswear, UK’s leading men’s occasion-wear retailer, based in Belfast. Ludlow stock a wide range of suits and formal garments from a number of reputable designer labels including Bugatti, Carl Gross, and Baumler, just to name a few. And they have done so for almost 30 years.
But they’re not like any other fashion house. They pride themselves in providing bespoke experience to each of their customers: you can purchase a suit, get it fitted by the inhouse tailoring consultant, or you can simply rent one out. There’s plenty of options to suit your needs and ensure that you’re looking your best on your special day.
And in that respect, Ludlow and we are not that different. We aim to provide all our clients with just the right solution for their brand. In fact, our custom-designed website is just the right fit for Ludlow and their image. The dark theme preserves their classic black-tie feel whilst the addition of contrasting interactive elements and navigation makes it modern and responsive.
Besides, the dark theme is totally in right now. And we like to ensure our clients stay in fashion.
But don’t just take our word for it: check-out Ludlow’s website and see what you think!
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.
Call us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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