2017 will be dominated by minimalistic websites with an emphasis on readability and accessibility, and it’s never been more important to have a site that follows basic usability standards. Many businesses advertise or invest in content marketing only to have users land on their site and leave right away, because they don’t understand what you’re trying to sell them.
Easily readable text
I will start off by stressing how much it counts for your website to be readable in 2017. Your visitors will navigate away from landing pages if they are confused about your message or cannot read your content.
Use readable, web friendly fonts, and have the font size be large enough for users of all ages and of all devices to read.
- Contrast is key – black on white text is easier to read that white on black and, whatever combos you are using on your site, make sure they are complementary colors that allow for sufficient contrast
- Font spacing, always overlooked, should be large enough to create reading ease, especially when large chunks of text are involved
- Your site should be accessible across all devices
- Whether it’s content on your homepage or other selling pages or just blog posts, make it engaging. Use sub-headings to signal content intent, and bullets and images to make blocks of text less dull.
- Whitespace – Have plenty of unused space on every page; a crowded page will not lead to better conversion, just to more confusion.
This is something you hear a lot about these days, but it’s important that your site can be read on different devices, some of which will not be very fast.
Make sure all media loads properly on mobile and tablet, and keep an eye on general loading times as well. Speed greatly improves site usability and the lack of it will make visitors frustrated.
Relevant headings and call to action text
Guide your visitors through your site with relevant text that will show them what they are clicking on, what page they are on and how they can navigate away from that page.
The first heading they will come in contact with when landing on the site is that on the homepage, preferably above the fold. Use that to explain the business you are in and and your unique selling proposition.
Below is a screenshot of our homepage when you land on it – you can understand that we are a design agency that deals with web, print, social and creates strategic marketing campaigns.
Make your images count
Everybody pays attention to images. If you are using them to bring attention to relevant, related products or blog posts make sure they accurately convey the message of the page they lead to. When integrating images in posts or on your homepage, caption them or explain how they relate to the rest of the content.
While some designers will integrate experimental navigation into sites, that is not the most successful way to making your site easily accessible. Use classic patterns to increase learnability of the site pages, which includes having main items visible in header navigation and subitems included in dropdowns.
If you have a more complex structure than that, another way to do it is include side navigation for category pages of have a flyout menu. This is how Amazon deals with having a lot of items. They divide them into categories on a large dropdown:
Don’t forget about “back” buttons. Make it easy for users to navigate away from their page and go back to the homepage or the main category page.
Hypertext will point out links in context, but make sure you are making it underlined and changing the color to have it stand out.
Use modern design, while trying to stand out
Modern design is a must for a 2017 site. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to stand out with layout manipulations, images, colors and content. However, standing out with a 1992 looking website is not the answer.
Your readers will have been online before, and they will unconsciously compare your website design to others on the web. Keep your general layout in line with trends to create the appearance of a business that is cutting edge in all it does.
I have outlined some of this year’s webdesign trends here, but I will talk about three of them:
- Large hero images
Hero images or the large images displayed above the fold are pretty common nowadays and can convey in a glimpse what your site is about. That image, accompanied by a relevant heading, is you one chance to make an impression on your visitors and show them what your site is about. If they don’t understand what your business is and what you bring to the table in 3 seconds, they might navigate away from the site.
- Tile or card design
Tiles or cards are used a design technique when you have more categories of products, blog posts etc that you would like to feature while not taking up a lot of space.
- Hover animations
Users these days are accustomed to small or micro-interactions, in which hovering over a box or button will create a reaction. You can take advantage of this opportunity by providing extra information in the hover state, but, whatever you do, you have to make it clear with design that, when, clicking that, they will navigate away from their current page or perform a specific action.
Last but not least, never stop testing. Making minor tweaks to your site at all times shows Google it is frequently being updated, giving you a ranking boost. It would also allow you the chance to capture more conversions. It could be a matter of having it adapt to devices, rearranging content, adding more pages or deleting some that are not popular. Whatever you do, always try to keep it up to date, relevant, clear and concise, as it is your window to the digital world.