5 Tips for Improving Your Website Design

January 26th, 2018 in Design, Web web design

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.

 

 

How To Ensure Consistency in Web Design

January 12th, 2018 in Design, Web web design

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.

 

 

How Do Vibrant Colours Benefit UI Design?

December 31st, 2017 in Design ui ui web design user experience user inferface web design

Vibrant colours benefit UI design in more ways than you might think.

Of course, decades of colour response theory have demonstrated how important colour can be to conditioning and shaping how a user interacts with a design – red attracts the eye better than any other hue, while blue promotes a sense of coolness and calm. But UI design has its own particular quirks which require a further understanding of how colour can act upon the eye.

For example, consider readability. Monotone designs are far easier to scan and read. Consider vibrant colours for your UI, then, because they will enable the text on your website to be quickly and easily digested … and therefore will support your messaging better than a melange of pastel shades.

Monotone designs user a single colour and mix in shades and tints. The bold clarity that this use of colour represents will provide an eye-catching focus on your content. Use it to direct your user’s eyes towards key calls to action and “take homes”. A website exists to communicate something to someone – monotones are an efficient and effective way of doing this.

Of course, not all sites have quite the same goals – and UI design should shape itself around a site’s strategic aims. That’s why we’d be remiss to evangelise monotones at the expense of, well, duotones. To risk contradicting myself, duotones are a particular good choice for UI design because, where monotones offer clarity, duotones create atmosphere.

As the name suggests, a duotone design will make use of two contrasting colours – or two shades of the same hue. Placing colours side by side enables you to elicit responses by being careful with your juxtapositions. For example, soft contrast will seem serious and sober, while high contrast will seem a little more dynamic, even exciting. Where the monotone lets content speak for itself, the duotone adds a language all its own.

Of course, contrast isn’t the only weapon in your colouring arsenal. Gradients – the gradual passage of one colour into another – can produce benefits from vibrant colour from the opposite of contrast.

Gradients can add a modern look to a website, offering a gentle and contemporary edge to your website which will inspire confidence but also make your site easier on the eyes. Modern gradients often use high-contrast colours and radiate their transition from various angles – not just along the vertical.

In other words, your choice isn’t just down to which colour: it’s also about how that colour is presented, and alongside which others. By making appropriate choices informed by your strategic goals, you’ll discover that vibrant colours really can benefit UI design.

 

Contact Image Plus for UI 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 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

Coventry: City of Culture 2021 … and Us

December 8th, 2017 in Design, Development

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

 

 

How Can You Make Your Website Stand Out?

December 1st, 2017 in Design, Development, Web web design

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

 

The Benefits of “Breadcrumbs”

November 17th, 2017 in Design breadcrumbs web design

Breadcrumbs are more useful than you think. Not only are they an essential ingredient in veggie burgers, Katsu curry and fish fingers … They can help you find your way home.

We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel, who were brave enough to explore the forest … and smart enough to lay breadcrumbs along their path. In this way, they didn’t get lost – useful when you’re running away from the evil inhabitant of a sinister gingerbread house.

In web design, his story has given a name to the tokens we leave throughout a website to enable a visitor to track backwards through their online journey. Often breadcrumbs appear as nested page names – Home > About > Our Company, for example – which situate a user clearly with the site’s architecture. They can take other forms, however, and always the aim is simple: to help your visitor to not get lost.

This is a good function to include, especially on a site which boasts a large number of pages. Resource-heavy websites are great, but once you’ve clicked one link you’ve clicked them all – and it can be very easy to become unmoored, lost amidst all these pages and unable to find your way ‘Home’ again.

 

Why Use Site Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs – prominent indicators of where you are and how you can get back to where you were – greatly enhance the usability of a site. They make it easy to click on pages but also remain oriented; to find other content quickly; and to go back to content you found interesting once you’re done exploring.

In turn, this reduces the clicks or actions required to return to a given page – and this, too, enhances the user experience of your site. Making your content easy to navigate is a key means of making your site pleasant to use … And that will earn you return visits.

If you’re wondering why users can’t just click the “Back” button, you haven’t yet understood the power of the humble breadcrumb. Breadcrumbs aren’t just about going back: they’re about situating yourself within a site, and understanding how each of its pages relates to the others. You’ve worked hard on structuring your content – so make that structure clear. The “Back” button alone doesn’t achieve that.

Sites without breadcrumbs don’t get read as much as sites which opt to use them. Being able to find your way home encourages browsers, like Hansel and Gretel, to explore a little deeper; if you don’t help your users to find their way, they’ll stick a little more closely to the ‘top-line’ content – and never make the most of what you’ve built for them.

In fact, sometimes they won’t even read your top-line content: sites without breadcrumbs suffer from higher bounce rates, meaning essentially that their visitors leave those sites much more quickly. Today’s internet users are savvy and impatient – if they can’t find what they want quickly and easily, they’ll go somewhere else. Breadcrumbs encourage them to stay.

In other words, think of breadcrumbs as a wayfinding system. Complex buildings often include coloured corridors and large maps to help visitors find their way around. Hardy fairytale explorers carry loaves of bread. And websites have the benefits of breadcrumbs.

 

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

 

3 Great Techniques for Engaging Typefaces

November 5th, 2017 in Design Design trends typeface typefaces web design web designers

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

 

Why Responsive Web Design is Important

October 20th, 2017 in Design Design responsive web design responsive website design web design web designers website design

Responsive web design is important. If you take only one sentence away from this blog post, let that be it: in today’s online environment, ensuring that your website can respond to the devices and screens on which it is viewed is absolutely key, for all sorts of reasons.

 

Clients and designers alike can get wrapped up in colours and font faces and where the navigation is positioned. They can become very agitated by the wrong graphic or a button that stands out insufficiently. The truth is, none of these will damage your site as badly as failing to make it responsive will.

 

To be fair, what everyone wants is for your site to look good – and the truth is that responsive web design ensures it always looks its best. No matter how great your graphics or vibrant your colourways, all that work will be for nothing if your site doesn’t look good on a mobile phone or a tablet or any of the countless types of device which can now be used to view your site.

 

This is all that responsive web design means: building a site that can shrink and resize and even display differently depending upon the platform. For example, on a large desktop monitor, a site might stretch across the screen, displaying big and bold slider graphics and expanding its menus fully. On a mobile however, it might contract and intelligently crop those images, or collapse the menu into a ‘hamburger’ icon.

 

Responsive web design is important because it enables you to ensure your content looks good in every context – and that you get the message across immediately, however a user is logging on.

 

Ensuring this cross-platform compatibility will increase mobile visits to your site – crucial given that mobile internet usage is increasing constantly, and is now the dominant method many use to go online.

 

Likewise, search engines such as Google reward website that provide this courtesy to broswers – meaning that your rankings will improve if you adopt responsive design. Should you for some reason choose not to go down this route, don’t expect to reach the top of the search pages for your chosen keywords.

 

For example, some businesses still use multiple non-responsive websites, directing users to the site most applicable to their device. Not only will this ensure that all of your sites do worse in search engine rankings; it also makes managing them a nightmare, since each time you update a page you’ll need to do it on every single non-responsive site you maintain. Responsive web design is a time saver, and will make your business more productive.

 

In other words, these taking advantage of responsive technology is the only sensible way to approach building a new website. In fact, all your competitors are already doing it – and maybe that’s the best reason of all why responsive web design is so important!

 

Contact Image Plus for Responsive Web Design

If you need a new responsive 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 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

How Psychology is Important in UX Design

October 6th, 2017 in Design, UX ux ux design

Psychology is important to UX design. This may not seem an immediately obvious truth since Freud or Jung might seem distant relatives of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

The fact is, however, that in all branches of design focus on the responses our products will provoke. In this way, all designers are necessarily psychologists – they must understand and predict why and how what they build will affect their audience.

In UX and web design, a lot of this comes to revolve how people tend to respond to layout, typography and graphical elements. Get the mix and balance right, and your visitors will be more likely to return or become customers; get it wrong and you’ll turn them off – they may not be able to say why, but a psychologist would.

 

Psychology in Colour

In what ways can a designer use psychology to improve their work, then? For starters, they can think about colour. There’s a wide range of studies concerning how humans react to colour, but as a rule, we are attracted to bright and vibrant ones. To that end, designs which feature more exciting colours will be more successful.

Likewise, men and women react differently to colour. Which gender, if either, is your primary audience? Many studies show that men are less good at discerning different shades of colour than women, while simultaneously tending to be better at tracking fast-moving objects.

Colour has other effects, too. For example, the evidence shows that red or orange is most effective for boosting conversion, whilst red-themed websites can use green to achieve the same effect. A good designer knows their colour theory back to front and can get you the results you need merely through the judicious application of that knowledge.

 

Psychology in Text

Text, too, is important: words don’t just communicate their own meanings. Their layout will influence your site’s message, too. Take, for example paragraphing: space them out properly and users’ eyes will glide across them; put them too close together, or make each too long, and instead, those eyes will glaze over.

Too much text is a turn-off, but so is small text. At the risk of being the pot to call the kettle black, aim, for simplicity with your copy: keep thing straightforward and well spaced, and your users will respond positively.

We’re used to thinking of psychology as a tool for managers and leaders, whose job is to cajole and persuade members of a team. Think of designers, too, as professional persuaders: their job is to convince your visitors to stay long enough to engage with your company.

To do that, they need to understand humans in all their complexity and quirkiness. And that’s why psychology is so important for UX design.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design

If you’re unsure about UX or need help to design your website or drop-down menu then 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 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

Top 5 UX Design Tips for Dropdown Menus

October 2nd, 2017 in Design, UX design tips ux ux design ux design tips

The dropdown menu has long been a venerable entry in the web developer’s toolkit. It is so widely used because it can be terribly useful: the dropdown menu tucks away all your pages until a user hovers over a button; that gives you a lot more space for your content.

Most commonly, the dropdown menu appears as a bar of navigation labels at the top of a website; hover over any particular label and a further list of labels will appear, offering instant access to a range of pages within that category. Very often, items in that list will in turn ‘drop down’ further lists.

The trouble is that dropdown menus can also pose challenges to a savvy web developer. Because they can offer feature so many labels, and once collapsed take up so much space, they can also look quite ugly … unless, that is, you follow our top tips.

 

Make Hover States Obvious. If your dropdown menu is to work, your user needs to know where they are in it. Use colour and highlighting to make that clear.

Padding Is Not A Dirty Word. You’re not a writer, or a musician making your difficult second album: don’t be afraid to pad things out. Put space between your menu’s buttons.

Mark Those Sub-Menus. If one of your menu’s labels expands a further menu – a section within a section – mark it appropriately, with an arrow, a dot or other icon.

Animate! Menus don’t have to be dull or static – in fact, dropdowns are so common they can become dull without a bit of subtle animation to spice up their transitions.

Explore The Alternatives. Many web develops decry dropdowns – particularly if you want a responsive website for mobile devices. Look into scrolling panels and hamburgers.

Consider The Click. Usually dropdown menus operate simply via hover – but depending on your application clicking to open a submenu, or to hide a menu, could make sense.

Make It Seamless. There shouldn’t be any lag at all between click or hover and the appearance of your menu – it should load immediately. You owe your user slickness.

Say No To Tooltips. Tooltips – those often helpful labels which appear when hovering over an item – can be good. With dropdowns, they get in the way. Eliminate them!

Style Consistently. Make your menu a part of your website. It might not always be on show, but when it is give it the same fonts, colours and feel as the rest of your site.

Be Ruthless With Your Content. The dropdown menu can go on forever – but that doesn’t mean it has to do so. Only have the number of pages you absolutely need.

 

Dropdowns have detractors. But follow theses rules of thumb and you’ll have success.

 

Contact Image Plus for Usability and Website Redesign

If you’re unsure about UX or need help to design your website or drop-down menu then 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 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.