5 Ways to Rethink Your Website Design

These aren’t web design trends; they’re a mix of large and small ways to fundamentally rethink your website and improve its effectiveness.

As a full-service hospitality marketing agency, we see it all when it comes to web design: the good, the bad, and the pixelated. We know it’s tough to keep up with the design trends – and the truth is, for most businesses, there’s no need to be on the cutting edge at all times. What we’re able to do, though, is separate the flashy from the useful, the trendy from the timeless, and combine our marketing savvy with our design talent to create websites that drive business for clients big and small. Here are five ways to rethink your website’s design.

1) Don’t Make Text an Afterthought

There’s a misconception that if you have a website with a minimalist design and some big, gorgeous images, you’re all set. Yes, a website should be simple, yes, it should be pretty, and yes, you should limit the amount of text – but that doesn’t minimize the importance of text. On the contrary, it places more emphasis on the words you do have on the page. They’re central to your website’s strategy. Come up with creative messaging first, and then design around it. Text is also the single most essential ingredient for SEO – it’s what helps Google define what your website is about and thus, which terms it should be found for in searches. (This is where we feel compelled to mention that we have first-class design and content teams.)

2) Stick to a Few Subtle Interactions and Animations

Ever go to a website where there’s auto-play video, glowing buttons, parallax images flying by, and a handful of other distractions, and you’re not sure what exactly you’re supposed to do? It feels like an arcade – and not in a good way. In each viewport (i.e. what you can see on the screen at any given time), try having only one subtle movement or interaction. Maybe it’s a CTA that’s shaking a little bit or a graphic that moves just enough to get your attention. When used sparingly, these sorts of interactions have a way of drawing the user’s eye to where you want it to go. With too many, it does the opposite.

3) Consider Designing Mobile First

By now, you should know that it’s imperative that your website be mobile-friendly – but did you know that with mobile web traffic surpassing desktop web traffic, it’s becoming an accepted practice in some industries to design for mobile first, and then (and only then) to design the desktop version? At the very least, the next time you work with someone on your website’s design, if you never hear them mention the word “mobile,” that should be a warning sign. It should be a major consideration for any overhaul (or even slight tweak) your website undergoes. The best way to see if your site should follow this trend is by reviewing your mobile versus desktop behavior in your analytics tool. In Google Analytics, you can find that here: Audience > Mobile > Overview.

4) Break the Grid: Try Asymmetrical Web Design

When responsive web designs were gaining in popularity, it was common practice to build from a 12-column grid, because it could easily be scaled to most screen sizes at the time. Now, with so many different devices and screen sizes in use, there’s a new school of thought that you should break out of the 12-column restriction and start thinking abstractly. A common complaint we hear from clients is that their current website is too boxy. The reason for that is because those boxes fit the 12-column grid perfectly. If you go asymmetrical and take out the grids, you’re able to get rid of that boxy feel and do unique, eye-catching things. In a sense, you can have the creative freedom and flexibility of print layouts on the web.

5) Go Beyond the Hamburger Menu

Those three little horizontal lines, stacked together, look like a simple depiction of a hamburger and have become the go-to for both mobile and desktop sites. For those in the know, it signifies the ability to click and expand a hidden menu. Here’s the issue: If you deal with older clientele (and we’re speaking generally here, of course), they’re less likely to recognize and use the hamburger menu. That means that you may be getting visitors to your website but they can’t find what they’re looking for – all for the sake of a design trend. Consider breaking out your hamburger menu into a more traditional navigation structure, or maybe just put the word “menu” under the hamburger menu icon so people know what they’re looking at.

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