The world of web design moves at a rapid pace, and what was thought of as the gold standard in design just a decade ago could be outdated today. From Flash animation to animated GIFs, not all of yesteryear’s web design practices are valid today.
In this guide, we’ll share seven modern web design practices that you can use to give your website a timeless design and a fantastic user experience. From frameworks to responsive design, read on to discover seven elements of modern web design.
Make sure your designs are fully responsive
The age of designing with full-resolution PCs in mind is well and truly over. Today, the people visiting your website could be using a smartphone, a tablet, a netbook, a gaming console or a full-resolution desktop computer.
Because of the wide variety of Internet browsing devices available today, it’s vital that your website uses a responsive design that intuitively scales to any resolution and is usable with any type of device.
Responsive design might seem complicated, especially if you’re accustomed to the web design standards of the past. However, it’s refreshingly simple once you learn the basics of HTML5 and CSS3.
Are you ready to start learning responsive web design? Learn how to set up external style sheets for different screen resolutions and craft a beautiful website using CSS3 and HTML5 in with a guide to Learning Responsive Web Design.
Optimize your website for minimal load times
Although connection speeds are becoming faster every year, optimizing your page design for minimal page load is still incredibly important. Load times have a major effect on bounce rate, landing page conversion rates and even your website’s SEO.
Optimizing your page load times is surprisingly straightforward. Start by looking through the images used on your website. Which format are they in? Do they use any type of compression? Could they be further compressed without quality loss?
Good targets for compression include large background images and thumbnails. If you take a serious approach to reducing load times, you could reduce the total size of your website by as much as 50 percent, hugely boosting your page load speed.
Speed matters, especially with Google actively monitoring page load times when it determines a website’s search ranking. Learn how to optimize your website in our course, Everything You Need To Speed Up Your Website.
Only make your design as complex as it needs to be
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Study the designs of Facebook, Twitter, Google and other successful websites and you’ll notice that they all follow a similar theme: they focus on including the most important core functions of the website, and exclude any unnecessary details.
It’s very easy to make a website feel overdesigned. From complicated navigational menus to annoying sidebar widgets, many of the websites of the early 21st century were designed not so much to work well, but to look impressive.
A good rule of thumb for modern web design is that your website should only be as complex as it needs to be. Unless a design element has a specific function that isn’t carried out by anything else, it shouldn’t be there.
Removing unnecessary features is one of the most important aspects of usability testing. Learn more about reviewing your website to determine what matters and what doesn’t in our course, How to Carry Out a Usability Expert Review.
Keep your icons, fonts and buttons consistent
A wide variety of free icon sets are available for designers, making it easy to add a range of great looking buttons to your website. While choice helps in design, using icon sets that don’t match can make your design feel amateur and inconsistent.
The same is true of buttons – when you mix and match different button styles and color schemes, it’s difficult for visitors to find their way around your website. Each icon and button should have a clear purpose and a specific design.
Likewise, you should use the same typefaces throughout your website. Keep your headings, subheadings and body copy consistently styled across pages to increase readability and make absorbing your content a breeze for readers.
Are you searching for icons, fonts, buttons and other design pattern ideas? Discover nine great user interface patterns that you can use on your website in our blog post on UI design patterns.
Use frameworks like Bootstrap to simplify design
Since its open source launch in August 2011, Bootstrap has grown into one of the world’s most popular frameworks for developing websites. Bootstrap is a massive collection of free HTML and CSS templates for all aspects of modern web design.
If you’d like to speed up the process of designing your website and deploy earlier, using Bootstrap is a great way to cut down your development time. It’s also a good way to make sure your website is compatible with all modern web browsers.
Bootstrap is available free from the GetBootstrap website, and it’s remarkably easy to customize with thousands of free and paid extensions. Thanks to its clean HTML and CSS code, Bootstrap is the perfect foundation for your new website’s design.
Are you new to Bootstrap? Learn the basics of designing a responsive website using the Bootstrap framework, including detailed guides on modifying CSS and HTML to suit your needs, in Learning Bootstrap: A Course For Beginners.
Use comments to help other designers understand your code
When you modify your HTML or CSS, make sure you include comments so that other designers – or, if you’re designing a web application, your developer – can work out what each element of your code is for.
Keeping your code clean, straightforward and easy to follow is one of the most vital aspects of modern web design. It’s also important for page load speed – clean, highly optimized code generally loads faster than a messy page of unintelligible HTML.
Is your code a little bit messier than it should be? Brush up on the basics of HTML to design better looking, better performing and massively customizable websites with our HTML for Beginners course.
Make sure each page has its own call to action
Are you struggling to work out the ideal structure for your website? Here’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when developing a structure for your website: each page should have one function, and no more.
This means your homepage should direct visitors to the right part of your website for their needs, your lead capture page should generate sales leads, and your help page should help your users.
As part of this one-function-per-page mentality, it’s also important that every page on your website has its own call to action. From sign up buttons to contact forms, a call to action helps your visitors interact with your site in the way it was designed.
Is your website not performing as well as it should? Learn how to give every page its own call to action and generate business leads, loyal customers and new users with the conversion optimization techniques in our Conversion Crash Course.
Learn more about modern web design
Web design is constantly changing, and the best practices of last year quickly fall out of date as new technologies and styles emerge. Catch up on the latest design trends with our blog posts on mobile web design and designing responsive websites.