Top 5 E-Commerce Web Design Trends for 2017

August 9th, 2017 in Design, Web e-commerce web design

E-commerce website trends in 2017 are related to, but also diverge from, the more general web design fashions. Much of this difference, of course, is simply due to the separate functionalities required of an e-commerce site. You wouldn’t build a bungalow the way you would a skyscraper. Websites are the same.

The primary purpose of an e-commerce site, not surprisingly, is to drive sales. How you do this online is all about how a website looks, and how that appearance guides and empowers the user. E-commerce web design trends are equal parts style and substance: they both keep things fresh and make them functional, enhancing the user experience.

So what are the latest trends? As dedicated followers of fashion, we’re glad you asked.

 

1) Responsive Design

This one shares most with the general trends elsewhere in web design: a responsive site is one that can be viewed optimally on many devices and platforms, and with mobile a very big thing now this is essential. It’s extremely important that your e-commerce website looks good on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer: you want to maximise your customer base, and responsive design is the way to do it.

 

2) Material Design

If responsive e-commerce design is primarily about function, material design is about aesthetics. Put simply, this e-commerce web design trend builds on a language introduced by Google in 2014, and focuses on card layouts and responsive animations. This is perfect for an e-commerce site, since the grid system of material design offers the perfect way to arrange products simply and easily. This helps your user find what they want quickly.

 

3) Menu Placement on the Left

This is another trend driven by Google. The service has begun to place its menus on the left, and so ubiquitous are the service’s platforms that users are automatically beginning to expect this. Intuitive navigation is a key means of ensuring your visitors become customers, so following this trend makes a lot of sense. Look for ‘hamburgers’, too – the three-line horizontal button which, when tapped or clicked, expands the menu. Hiding your menu in this way gives you more space for content when you need it.

 

4) Bright and Vibrant Colours

Web design in general, has been inundated with blocky colours of late: less pattern, more bold hues. E-commerce can make real use of this trend to highlight key areas of content and simply stray fresh when it comes to look and feel. Do away with whites and greys –  try reds and yellows. At last web design is fun again!

 

5) Lots of Images

Your e-commerce website is your new shop window – and no one likes an empty window, right? Let your customer see your products, and be unafraid of leaning heavily on original photography. Likewise, don’t just limit yourself to product shots – use attractive photography of your products in situ, being used and generally looking great. Release your inner artist.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

Drop us a line to learn more about where we’re taking our e-commerce clients this year. But there they are in a nutshell: the top five e-commerce web design trends of 2017!

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website or mobile website, then 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.

Business Benefits of Website Design & Development

July 28th, 2017 in Design, Development, Web businesses web design web development

Businesses make decisions on the basis of value. That is a truism so obvious as to bear repeating: we’re all told that web design is important, but what are the business benefits of web design and development? How can we measure their impact in order to inform and justify our investments?

The benefits to a business of great web design are multiple – and offer multipliers in turn. In the digital age, your customers will assume any business with which they engage have a web presence – and they will trust you less for not having one or even merely for having a poorer platform than they expect. Expectation management, then, is key – but there are still more quantifiable business benefits to great web design and development. They can be roughly broken into four areas.

 

Good web design makes your service or product available 24/7

A quality website is a resource that your customers will want to return to. Not only that, but it’s always on. Unlike your reception desk or call centre, your business’s website is open to the public all day, every day. Whatever their schedule, each of your customers can access your services or products at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen, constantly. That means you’re doing more business throughout the day.

 

Smart web development streamlines business operations

Digital technology offers smart solutions. Integrating your business processes with your website and another online infrastructure, enables information sharing, more efficient operations and better lines of communication. All that makes your employees’ days easier and more seamless, which in turn releases efficiencies for the business. Websites aren’t just shop windows – they can be workbench tools.

 

The web opens up more channels for outreach to customers

From Twitter to Facebook, smartphone to tablet, having a good digital presence means you can open up a larger number of channels to communicate with your customers – and convert new ones. Does your website include a blog? Create new content regularly to engage new users. Have you developed a new product, service or feature? Promote that online to earn higher traffic and greater sales. Good web design means better conversation.

 

Your business will benefit from staying competitive online

For all these reasons and more, your competitors will be investing in web design and development, too. The business benefits of web design and development often flow from matching and exceeding their efforts!

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website or mobile website, then 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.

What are Microinteractions in Mobile Web Design?

July 21st, 2017 in Design microinteractions mobile web design

Microinteractions: they’re not something from Star Wars. When I wrote a few weeks ago about the top web design trends for 2017, I didn’t mention them – but maybe should have done.

As users become ever more sophisticated in the way they use the web, so the sites they access must match those expectations. In particular, gone are the days when a good mobile site was merely a traditional webpage that looked OK on a smaller screen.

In other words, designers have turned to additional functionality to satisfy demanding users who are increasingly not just viewing but interacting with online content whilst on the go. The aim is now to create a unique, fully functional web experience on mobile devices; microinteractions are one way of achieving that.

 

What are Microinteractions?

So what are microinteractions, anyway? As the name suggests, in some ways they are small things – little tricks and flourishes that may seem like tiny details at first blush. And yet, as we all know, the devil is often in those details – and getting them right can make your website stand very far out from the pack.

For example: if a user taps your website’s menu button and a smooth animation expands a list of their options, that’s a microinteraction. If a user can pull downwards to refresh a page, that’s a microinteraction; and if a user can turn off a particular function of your website with a single swipe, that, too, is a microinteraction.

What all these actions have in common is that they are easy to perform, focus on a single data-point or task, and provide subtle pleasure to the user. A microinteraction provides a function but also some feedback: perhaps haptic (that is, sensory – a vibration, for example), but certainly visual.

This enhances the user’s experience – and therefore the time they spend on your site and the regularity with which they’ll return – because it renders it as two-way and convenient. The Facebook ‘like’ function, for example, makes acknowledging content you have appreciated easy – but the animation that occurs when a user clicks that little thumb also gives the impression of your having done something substantive.

Those subtle events that occur around an action, then, encourage repeat use – and even foster brand loyalty. When using their smartphone, today’s users want to enjoy surfing the web. Microinteractions are one way of making sure that your website is one of those which give your customers and clients not just a practical tool but also a little pleasure, too.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website or mobile website, then 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 Branding is Important to Web Design

July 14th, 2017 in Design, Marketing, Web Branding web design

Branding can be a word that appears to lose meaning in its ubiquity. We all know what a brand is, right? We all understand that branding is important, don’t we? Well, maybe. But can we really quantify the benefits of branding in ways that strengthen our digital offerings?

Of course we can – but it requires a little bit of thought.

 

Customer Perception

Branding is as important to a website as it is to a drinks bottle or a hotel resort – it provides a seal of pre-approval. If your website agrees with a wider brand your company has already established – and is trusted by its customers – then automatically it will win people over and make them feel more comfortable.

The reverse is true, too, of course … but let’s for the moment assume your brand is good. Your website needs to mirror your wider brand – not be considered as separate to it because it is online or in a different format to your usual material – because it is part of that brand. Digital is increasingly integral to everything a business does, so it’s worth making it look that way, too.

 

Conveying Goals & Messages

The importance of branding to a website isn’t just about tying it into your wider activity, however. It’s also about grabbing attention and giving website users a specific message or goal in the moment that they arrive at the site. A good brand is designed to catch the eye of its target audience – so a good website will use it to good effect to attract and retain browsers.

Likewise, it will utilise the brand to offer a call to action. These can be key in directing users around your website, and towards the ends you’d like them to reach. A call to action can be a prompt to make a purchase or enter personal information, to subscribe or to get in touch. A good brand will subtly reinforce whatever action you wish your visitors to take: through colour, navigation, layout and messaging, a website can steer browsers in the appropriate directions for them.

 

Consistency & Usability

Indeed, the key goal for any website is usability. The most important metric by which to measure your site is simple: will the user enjoy the experience of visiting it, and will they get from their visit whatever it was they wished to obtain? A good user experience will result in repeat visits – and therefore repeat business. Branding is crucial here because it provides consistency and familiarity – which makes any visit anywhere easier.

First and foremost, a good brand is an expression of quality. Your branding says something about your product or service, and aims to inspire confidence. On a website, this will result in heightened engagement and greater usability – and that’s why branding is so important to web design.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website, then 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 Essential Tips for Great Web Navigation

June 23rd, 2017 in Design, Web web design web development web navigation

Great navigation on websites is the difference between becoming a really successful online resource for your customers – and, well, not. Today’s savvy internet users want every website they visit to make immediate sense and be easy to use. The best way to achieve this is with intuitive navigation.

From menus to hotlinks, back buttons to breadcrumbs, navigation is all about how a user goes from one page to another. Great web navigation enables visitors to your site to find the content they want quickly and with a minimum of fuss. In other words, it’s about convenience.

In survey after survey, the majority of web users admit that they judge a business by the quality of their web design. This might be unfair – although it’s increasingly easy to produce professional-looking websites – in today’s world, it is simply a matter of fact.

The good news is that ensuring your site is easy to navigation is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, it can be more subtle than at first appears: the interaction of your menu with the content and images on each page can render even the clearest architecture cluttered or difficult to parse. That’s why you’re always best off engaging professionals to build your site.

 

1. Clear & concise labels/categories

 This is the golden rule: make your navigation easy to understand at a single glance. Think of your site as a set of boxes, and file content and pages into the appropriate one. Then, describe each box with a single word of clear meaning and importance – and fan out your pages from there. Your users will thank you.

 

2. Theme, colour & layout consistency

An architecture of pages that structure your content in such a way as to make it easy for your users to find the content they need. But don’t neglect visual cues. That is, should each category of pages share colours or layouts, to emphasise the belong to the same group? Avoid clutter, make things subtle.

 

3. Utilising a flat architecture

 Not so long ago, websites had become unwieldy cascades of pages: under each category, innumerable pages nested under the ones before them, with users clicking again and again to reach the content they needed. It is very rare that this can’t be avoided. Try to ensure that each of your pages is reachable within a couple of clicks.

Follow these three tips, and great navigation – and happy visitors – will be yours.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website, then 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 10 Web Design Trends of 2017

May 30th, 2017 in Design, Development, Web

We’re already almost half-way through 2017 (no, we don’t know how that happened either). So what have we learned – and what pointers can we perceive to lead the way for the rest of the year?

Web design, like anything else, has its trends and its fashions. Following them slavishly will make you seem like a cliché, but ignoring them entirely risks rendering you out of date. Here are the ten trends we’re keeping an eye on – and deploying where they make the most sense.

 

1. Responsive Design 2.0?

Designing websites in such a way that they can adapt to whatever screen or platform they’re being viewed on has been a thing for a while. But with designers increasingly adopted a mobile-first position, and Google rewarding response sites with higher rankings, its adoption has been picking up real pace this year.

 

2. More Use of Scalable Vector Graphics

This comes in hand-to-hand with more responsive design: vector graphics are able to grow or to shrink as windows stretch this way or that. It’s a clever piece of technology that will make your all-important graphics look great every time.

 

3. Big & Bold Typography

If responsive design is “under the hood”, one of the most visible changes to web design this year is the prominence of typography: big, bold fonts will be placed at the heart of designs. In particular look out for serif fonts and geometric ones. Single words, simply presented, have never been clearer.

 

4. New Kinds of User Interface

As mobile-first because more prominent, UIs are changing, too. They look more and more like mini-desktops – lots of buttons to click, sorted into grids – and increasingly involve conversational elements – think questions, prompts and chatbots.

 

5. Authentic Photography

Gone are the days when stock photography passed muster. Users see so many websites per day now that they notice when photographs look staged or don’t seem unique to the site they’re viewing. Take your own photos, and use them prominently.

 

6. More Animation

With GIFs now a thing way beyond cult websites like Reddit, and animated images easier than ever to produce, moving images are more a part of websites than ever in 2017. From animated transitions between pages to cheeky decoration, animation is having a moment.

 

7. Vibrant Colours

White and grey have had their day. The clean and stark lines of recent years remain, but their backgrounds have changed: think fuchsias and oranges, and even bright greens. Let your websites pop.

 

8. The “Hero Banner”

The large image at the top of the website, filling the first screen a visitor sees – situated “above the fold” to adopt newspapers terminology – now reigns supreme. 2017 may see its apogee, but for now it is having a real moment in the sun.

 

9. The Long Scroll

Partly because the “hero banner” is now such a thing, sites are scrolling further than ever before. Mobile-first websites in particular benefit from “single-page” websites – there’s no need for an endless navigation tree of pages. Just let your users scroll.

 

10. Minimalism

All of this said, the biggest trend of 2017? Simple sites, plainly appointed. But be bold.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website, then 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.

New Website Launched For FTC !

December 15th, 2016 in Design, Web

Another website that Image+ has designed and built and published in the mad Christmas rush is for The Food & Drink Training and Education Council (FTC), previously the Meat Training Council. FTC is a non profit skills charity representing the whole of the food industry. The FTC website includes information on a range of apprenticeships within the Food Industry and a range of food training courses – mainly around the area of butchery. The website also lists approved training providers.
In order to keep the content of the site fresh there’s a News section where visitors can choose from general news, blog items and press features.

https://www.foodtraining.org.uk/

New Website Launched For Tow Trust Towbars !

July 15th, 2016 in Design, Web

Tow Trust Towbars is the largest manufacturer of towbars in the UK – making high quality towbars  for practically every car model there is. Image+ designed and built the website with a simple but slick user interface so that visitors to the site can quickly find the correct towbar for their make and model of car. The site contains comprehensive information on all Tow Trust’s towbars including fitting instructions and all required technical information. http://www.tow-trust.co.uk/ 

 

 

Why Affording An Agency Website Is Like Eating Cake

October 29th, 2015 in Apps, Bespoke, Design, Development, Marketing, Web apps cake Design development Web website

cake-web-advert

I realized the other day that I’ve been spending a lot of time at networking events in recent weeks. This is not just because it’s a great way of scoring free cake (hardly a networking event in the country now does not supply afternoon tea as standard, I can only-slightly-smugly report). It’s because these sorts of meetings offer great ways to meet new clients, and understand how all businesses are thinking.

One of the constant themes of my conversations with people from SMEs is one of cost – or, maybe more accurately, how expensive many businesses imagine a professional website might be.

We’ve all met the small business owner who asked his friend to build a website, and wound up with one that was half-finished; we’ve all probably tried to build a website using one of these ‘out-of-the-box’ services or web builders, and found it just cannot do the job. The fact is, your business’s website is ever more important – and needs to be professionally tailored to the particulars of your business. That takes a proper design agency.

The people I talk with over all those cream teas, however, are always worried that they simply can’t afford an agency. You might expect me to try and convince them otherwise, and, I confess, I do – but it’s a fact we don’t want to hide that, sure, we’re more expensive than using a website builder’s templates or getting your mate to do it.

But you invest a lot in your business, and an investment repays over time. We believe that the little bit extra we cost – and it’s nowhere near as much as many people seem to fear! – is worth the investment, and will help your business be the best it can be.

Come to think of it, it’s all a bit like cake (yes, I have cake on the brain – why do you ask?): the better the ingredients, and the better the baker, the tastier the final product. If you’re trying to impress, you don’t use value flour, you don’t scrimp on the icing, and you don’t ask someone who’s never made a cake before to whip one up for you. Your business will look worse than it is – and be less accessible to customers than it should be – unless you build your website like you’d bake that special sponge.

At Image+, we build a website around your business: we’ll design it to look uniquely yours, build in the features you need and those customers expect, and write the content for you so that it’s all professional and compelling. You’ll have face-to-face meetings with us; we’ll be on the end of the phone whenever you have a question; and we’ll do it all for you – you won’t have to fiddle with a single button if you don’t want to!

Let’s say you spend about £3000 on your website with us – that’s a standard amount for a fully-featured website, tailored for you, though we’ve done cheaper – and let’s say it lasts three years before it needs a bit of a facelift. That’s just £80 per month, which is a great deal given that proper websites, as opposed to bad ones, are proven to generate leads, improve repeat business, and increase your brand’s reach. From this perspective, dealing with a tricky online website builder that churns out a basic cookie-cutter website and doesn’t offer any after-sales support seems like the bad investment, right?

So. Not only is an all-singing, all-dancing agency website cheaper than you think; it justifies whatever extra expenditure it may incur over the cheap-but-far-from-cheerful alternatives. So why not pop in and have a chat with us about what we can do for you? I’ll even bring cake.

Mobile-First Design: Why Remembering Mobile Is Like Putting On Trousers

October 14th, 2015 in Design, Development, Search Engine Optimisation, Web

We’re all familiar with the concept of optional extras: additional cup holders in your car,

or ‘accent stitching’ on that custom-made suit. But you wouldn’t buy a new motor

without an engine, and you wouldn’t slip on a new three-piece that didn’t come with

trousers. Those are just the basics. But why is it often so different for websites?

In today’s world, your website will be viewed in a hundred different ways. On a

smartphone or a desktop, a tablet or a netbook; it might be loaded up in Chrome or Safari,

Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. This makes demands on your developers that were

absent in the ‘good old days’ of IE’s dominance, always installed on a 486DX2 66 MhZ

machine.

 

Just like an engineer or a tailor, web designers need to move with the times in terms of

what is considered ‘the basics’. That’s why we believe that all websites should be

‘responsive’ as standard. What do we mean by this? It’s simple, really: we mean that

every client should have confidence that their website will display perfectly on any

screen – and that none of their customers will be turned off by a design that just doesn’t

work on their device of choice.

 

This might sound like common sense, but a surprising number of other web agencies

charge extra for building responsive websites. That is, they treat the ability to display

properly on the varied devices people now use as an optional extra. For us, that’s like

forgetting to put on your trousers.

 

Think about it: according to comScore, the number of people globally using mobile

devices of one kind or another to access the internet has now exceeded those using the

traditional desktop computer. If your site is designed exclusively for desktops – still the

‘basic package’ offered by many developers – you will be alienating the largest segment

of your audience.

 

Not only that, but the internet has changed to reflect these new behaviours: Google has

made changes to how it ranks websites in order to reward those which prioritise the

mobile experience. They are not only penalising those websites which don’t offer any

mobile functionality at all; they are denying rankings even to websites which offer

limited responsive features, such as providing a ‘no-frills’ mobile version of their desktop

website.

 

What can you do about this? You can choose a developer who doesn’t simply remove

functionality from a basic desktop website until it ‘fits’ on a smartphone screen. At

Image+, our design philosophy is ‘mobile first’: we start from the smallest screen,

creating a great website which we can then enhance with each move upwards in size

towards the desktop. This, not surprisingly, is the approach which Google endorses.

 

‘Mobile first’ design isn’t just what the world’s biggest search engines expect. It’s what

your customers want, too. Make sure your website is the success you need it to be – and

don’t settle for a designer who forgets to put on their trousers.