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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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!

 

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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.

 

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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/