Let’s start off this article with the conclusion – web design in 2014:
- Usability – learn to make websites easier to navigate.
- Simplification of design.
In the last few years, the web design world (finally) totally embraced the importance of understanding code. The move in that direction started back during the web-standards evangelizing days … in about 2002-2003. There was resistance, but my feel for it now, is that the vast majority of web designers accept the fact that you can’t just rely on point-and-click web visual web design tools, if you want to build sites on a professional level.
… Yes, if you just need to build a brochure website that promotes your raspberry muffins, you can use simple website builders and a template. But if you are building a website that will have any depth to it, code is king and is required. Why? In a nutshell: control and optimization.
Usability is as much as art as it is a science because each site requires it’s own innovation (if you will) when comes to making a website easy to use. That said, there are simple conventions that people come to expect:
- Top left logo is always a link to the homepage.
- Navigation is found at the top and footer of the pages.
- Breadcrumb navigation is fantastic for deep sites.
I would argue that the hardest part of building a website is in making it usable. It also probably the most important aspect of any website because if a site is too hard to navigate, no one will use it.
Simplification of design
This trend towards simpler minimal design I believe is a reflection of the growing understanding in the importance of usability. Usability is hard enough, but making a complex visual design easy to use it mega hard! Simple design means:
- More whitespace – more ‘breathing room’ on the page.
- Use larger sans serif fonts – less fancy.
- Less images, but larger and higher quality.
Putting the money where my mouth is, we kept all this in mind when building the StudioWeb e-learning website.