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Looking Forward to 2017 with Web Design Trends

2017-design-trendsIt can always be useful to look ahead in order to try to determine what the forthcoming web design trends are going to be in 2017. By doing this, it just provides you with a better sense of the kind of things that you may wish to include in your design, or even the things that your designer is going to end up recommending. Now, we are not saying that you should try to squeeze in as many different things as possible, but you should at least take some points into consideration.

1. Designed in Reverse.

It used to be the case that websites were designed with desktops or laptops in mind, but that is something that is changing. As it is now fair to say, and the statistics back this up, that mobile phones and tablets are the primary technology used to access the Internet, this is not what is happening.

In 2017, it is not just there being more of an emphasis on these devices, but rather the twist is that they are becoming the primary source of the design. In other words, websites are now going to tend to be designed for the mobile user and then the design is effectively scaled up so that it works on those devices with a bigger screen.

2. Avoiding the Use of Stock Images.

This could be a big change, but it seems that people have grown tired of seeing those stock images of people around the business table and anything else that is clearly just a stock image that has been bought and put onto a website. It is believed that this is now starting to put people off and they are no longer paying the kind of attention that they should have been and this is clearly bad for the site.

In 2017, there will be more of a focus on originality which means original images are being used in a design that are far more related to the company and brand itself rather than what they could just buy off the shelf, so to speak. This is regarded as making the website, and the company, far more authentic.

3. Big and Bold Typography.

Typography is something that is always changing when it comes to what is in vogue at any given time and 2017 is going to be no exception. For this, you can expect to see more use of type that is very large and playing a strong role on the screen. For some, the type is going to completely dominate a section of the page.

However, you can also expect this to be incorporated into more artistic fonts that correlate to what the website is all about and the overall feel that the company is trying to create. The main thing is that there is no need to be afraid of the size of the fonts being used and indeed you should be starting to really come across more websites like this shortly.

4. An Increase in Animation.

We mentioned earlier how there is a move away from stock images to more unique photography and at the same time we can also expect an increase in the number of animations that are generally going to be used on websites. Also, the way in which they are going to be used will differ.

The latest moves will often include animation being used for basically entertainment purposes as content loads. They can also be used to highlight key sections of websites and help to draw the eye of the individual to them. They may also be incorporated to help encourage some kind of interaction with the visitor.

5. A Better Use of Video.

Video has been used for a number of years, but it is predicted that as much as 78% of all Internet traffic is ultimately going to be video related by 2018. This means that websites are starting to move more towards using video than ever before and this is a trend that is going to continue in 2017.

Video can take the form of large background images or, alternatively, to highlight key points on different sections of the website. However, there also has to be the need to take into account that some video can be heavy, so at the same time it cannot be overused as it may slow down the loading time for some people.

There are of course a number of other changes that are going to occur with web design over the forthcoming 12 months. However, this has just given you some kind of an indication as to what you may expect to happen or, at the very least, the things that you should take into account for the development of your own website. There is no absolute need for you to go ahead and actually use them, but considering how it will give your site a fresh and modern look, then you can understand why it may very well be a good idea.

Using Icons to Boost the Experience for the Visitor

wf-iconsWhen it comes to the design of your website then clearly you want to make sure that each and every visitor has a positive experience from the moment that they land there. Now, there are a number of ways in which this can be achieved and we have previously looked at various important points that do indeed make a difference. However, there is one area that we have not looked at as of yet and it is something that is often overlooked. That something is the use of icons because, when used correctly, they can indeed boost the experience that your visitor has on your website.

What are Icons?

First, a little explanation as to what we mean when we say icons when connected to a website.

If you look at a site and you see the Twitter symbol or Facebook symbol, then you are looking at an icon. You know instantly what they refer to and you also know what will then happen if you click on those icons, you will be taken to the relevant social media page.

However, icons are also used in other ways and you will recognize a number of them such as a telephone icon to refer to a contact number. Alternatively, people will often have an icon to represent an email address, or an actual physical address.

In other words, icons are small symbols that represent a link to either another page or a particular interaction or action.

The Benefits of Icons.

There are a number of rather useful benefits for icons.

First, they are very efficient at what they do. They are very good at telling people what to expect by using just one single graphic rather than you spelling it out for your visitors in words. It makes the page appear less cluttered, unless you overdo the use of icons, and it becomes very easy for things to just stand out from the crowd which can always be beneficial to you.

Also, icons can allow you to move people around the page as you want them to, but that all comes down to their placement rather than anything else. As they have a tendency to stand out from the page, it means that you can effectively force the eyes of the visitor to move around the page as you see fit.

Think of it this way.

Imagine if you are trying to sell something or promote your services or products on a page. Next, you will want people to take some kind of action whether it be to buy something or to contact you. Now, if they have to search for the way in which they do this, then they will be put off and will simply feel that they cannot be bothered. However, use the appropriate icon and it has been shown that people are more likely to then take the action that you want them to.

There is only one problem.

The problem is that you need to make sure that you not only do not use them too much, but also that people are aware of what the icons are representing. This is not a problem when you are dealing with an icon for the likes of Twitter or Facebook as those signs are global, but there is more to it than that.

What we recommend is that you only use icons that are accepted and understood in a global sense. No other icons should really be used or else you are gambling on people being willing to click on something that they do not understand.

The entire idea of icons is that they are supposed to make it easier for visitors to move around your website and navigate between links or pages. If you confuse them by using symbols that they are unaware of then you are more likely to chase them away rather than helping them. Striking this balance is important and that is where spending time talking to your web designer is going to prove to be rather useful. They can guide you as to the perfect placement, the best icons to use, and show how they cut down on unnecessary wordage that just makes the entire website appear to be messy. This in itself is important due to the fact that a clean cut website is always far more effective at getting your point across.

So, as you can see, when they are used in their correct manner then icons will indeed make navigating around your website and links a whole lot easier for your visitors. Also, they can be relatively unobtrusive which is always a bonus because having them getting in the way of carrying out various interactions would only serve to drive people crazy. Striking the balance between being useful and being annoying is certainly something that you need to resolve when you sit down and talk about this matter with your web designer.

The Importance of Honest Feedback with the Design of Your Website

We previously discussed the relationship between client and designer and the way in which it directly influences the end result. However, we need to take things slightly further and look specifically at the importance of honest feedback when it comes to the design of your website.

There are a number of reasons as to why this is key and it does feed into the quality and strength of the relationship that does exist between client and designer. If there is a breakdown in communication between the two, then the chances of there being an end product that both are content with is going to diminish quite considerably.

So, let’s look more closely at the reasons as to why it is so important and also the difference it makes to the end result.

1. It Prevents Miscommunication.

The first reason is that feedback prevents the problem of miscommunication which has to be seen as one of the cardinal sins. If there is a lack of honesty with the thoughts from both parties, then each can have their own ideas of how things should progress and those ideas will never come together. A designer can be carrying on with what they feel is the correct approach and yet if the client is not honest enough to admit that things are not quite what they expected then the entire thing ends up being a mess.

2. It Allows the Designer to Get in the Mind of the Client.

For a designer to be able to produce the end result that the client wants it is important that they are able to effectively get inside the mind of the client. Nobody is a mind-reader and if there is no feedback at different stages of the process then how on earth is the designer going to be able to produce the kind of thing that the client was imagining in their own mind? The answer is that it becomes completely impossible to do this and you then have to deal with the issue of the client perhaps being taken aback by what they see and wondering why they have been unable to get the kind of website that they were hoping for.

3. It Stops Mistakes Becoming Bigger.

Mistakes are always going to happen and they can do so for a variety of reasons. However, it is the way in which they are dealt with as well as them being identified as early as possible that is going to make a real difference. If things are effectively nipped in the bud at the beginning, then it stands to reason that they are going to then be unable to effectively completely destroy the project. This is only possible when there is honest feedback from both sides when the time is required.

Of course mistakes can always happen as that is just part of being human, but the importance of giving feedback is such that people need to be made aware of the mistake before it becomes harder to rectify it. If one side keeps quiet, then the chances of this happening are only going to increase.

4. It Builds Trust Between the Parties Involved.

The final main reason as to why this is so important is connected to another key issue in the entire design process, the issue of trust. If there is no trust between the two parties then it makes it difficult for either side to feel that they can continue with either their ideas or the creation of the design itself. If the designer in particular becomes aware of the fact that the client will be honest in their thoughts throughout the process, then it gets to the point whereby the designer can relax in the knowledge that they can continue with what they are doing as they know that the other party would voice their opinion if anything was wrong.

As you can see, if there is a lack of honesty with the feedback throughout the design process then the chances of the finished design being a bit hit and miss is going to increase. By accepting that feedback is not always going to be a pleasant experience it will allow the client to get what they want which, at the end of the day, is the very reason as to why they decided to go to a designer in the first place.

The thing to remember is that feedback does not always have to be critical. It is just the opportunity for either party to discuss their thoughts and feelings without the other side getting upset or feel as if they are being attacked in any way. Healthy feedback allows for a healthy project and there has to be the understanding that both sides are open to comments and that they are not going to take things personally. After all, without feedback and discussions taking place where will the entire project lead?

Is Keyword Research Dead?

seo-keywordsAfter Google announced the Hummingbird update in 2013, it was believed by many that keyword research was no longer as prominent and important as it once was. Well, we just do not believe that this is the case. Instead, adequate keyword research is going to undoubtedly boost yourself in the search engines and it is just a case of being aware of how to do it correctly in order to get the best possible results.

The confusion has arisen because the Hummingbird update did not look at keywords and there was also a debate that voice activated search is also rendering them useless, but that is not always the case. What is rather happening is that keyword research is actually just as important today as it was prior to that Google update and we will show why that is the case.

Locating High Traffic Opportunities.

Having a website that receives no traffic is pointless. However, keyword research still has a major role to play in allowing you to unearth opportunities that are out there that also have high traffic levels. Now, this means you end up effectively playing the numbers game because if you are using keywords that get a lot of searches then you are gambling that you will be able to get a share of that particular traffic pie.

This is something that you will be unable to do without carrying out keyword research.

Dealing with Long Tail Keywords.

If you were of the opinion that long tail keywords that have little competition would be a waste of time, then think again. Instead, as long as it gets a reasonable amount of traffic then it is worth checking out.

Think of it this way. If there is no competition, then there is a better chance of you being able to get a higher percentage of that traffic and then hopefully convert it into paying customers or whatever it is that your website is about. If you optimize content for various long tail keywords of this ilk then it all adds up.

Once again, none of this would be possible without you carrying out keyword research.

Make Sure You Use the Correct Language.

This is a feature of keyword research that is often overlooked in that it allows you to determine if you are using the correct language in your content.

Now, by this we do not mean English, Spanish or whatever. Instead, we are talking about those key terms or words that people identify with whatever it is that your website is about.

Say for example your website is all about dogs. You want to make sure that your content contains various terms related to dogs and in a style that is attractive to those people that visit your site. By doing this, people are going to actually pay attention more to what you are saying and, of course, they will also find your website more easily because of the way in which you have used those keywords in your content.

The chances of you being able to do this effectively without keyword research are practically zero.

Boosting Your SERPs.

It is important to remember that it is not just with the content that you need to think about keyword research. Instead, you have to be aware of how you get the individual to actually click on your link in the search engine results pages in the first place.

For this, you have to think about your meta tags and meta description as both of those areas are going to be key. Your use of keywords has to entice the individuals into doing the action that you want, which is coming to your website. The important thing here is to not just try to optimize and do keyword research for your content, but also be aware of the main terms that are used in this instance as well. After all, if nobody clicks through, then it has all been pretty pointless.

Make life easier for yourself by studying other meta tags and descriptions, research the keywords, and then play around with them to see what gets the best response.

As with everything else above, this is not going to be possible without adequate keyword research.

Now, to be honest, we could go on and on about the benefits of keyword research and why you would be wrong to assume that the process, or art of research, is dead. Instead, it is very much alive and kicking and it could easily be argued that it is actually even more important than before with there generally being as much competition.

Perhaps the key thing to do here is to forget the theory that the Hummingbird update made keyword research obsolete and just focus on the simple fact that this is still something that you need to do and it would be in your best interest to have an expert help you out. After all, the potential future success of your website is at stake.

Dealing with Keyword Stuffing

When we examined our list of SEO terms that you should really know about, we mentioned the concept of keyword stuffing. We stated how this is something that you need to avoid at all costs or else Google will quite simply penalize your website and you will then see yourself just plummeting down the results pages. However, in order to avoid it, we understand that you need to have a better idea of what it is or else how can you take the appropriate action?

The History of Keyword Stuffing.

To really get to grips with the concept of keyword stuffing, we need to give you a short history lesson on SEO and the techniques or methods that used to be applied. In the past, it was all about the frequency of keywords and terms related to your keywords and if you had them mentioned a number of times then the search engines would pick up on it and you would be ranked better.

The problem here was that Google began to realize that people were just throwing in keywords without the text actually making sense. It was all just a ploy to rank higher and get people to their website in the first place.

Now, this was not exactly something that they wanted to be involved in as it meant that the end user was basically being duped into using a website that was just incapable of being a quality resource and was all about just getting people there in the first place. As a result, Google changed the algorithm so that it was no longer related to the number of times that you had a keyword on your page but how it was used. This forms the basis of the quality over quantity argument that transcends so much of SEO.

The Basics of Keyword Stuffing.

With keyword stuffing, the idea is pretty simple. You have the keywords related to your website, you have text, headings, image tags, and anything else and you try to include those keywords as often as possible.

Now, this is going to be very easy to do, but at the same time it is also going to really disrupt your website as it becomes very apparent to your visitors that all you are doing is trying to get those tags mentioned as many times as possible. The result is often a mess of a page with text that is almost impossible to understand so even when you were able to get people to your page it would often result in people just navigating away.

How to Avoid it and What to do.

The question that people now ask when it comes to SEO is still keyword related, but it is more about how you handle the keyword situation so that you do not fall foul of the Google terms and conditions.

To be honest, so much work has to go into the initial study of keywords so that the correct terms are targeted leading to the best possible outcome for your budget and target market. It is more connected to the ability to find easier to target terms with less competition and carefully weaving the terms into the fabric of the text so that it appears naturally and is also compelling. At the same time, the website should also provide value of some kind to the visitors.

It is important that you are able to step back and realize that it is the quality of what you say and the keywords that you use rather than the quantity. Google now promotes websites that offer quality experiences no matter what industry it is and any attempt to subvert their quest for providing quality links as being the best out there is something that has to be avoided.

In other words, to avoid keyword stuffing you need to think about these points or you could run into a number of difficulties in a short period of time.

  • Choose keywords and terms wisely.
  • Do not try to squeeze in as many as you think possible.
  • Make sure that they are used in a natural way rather than forced into the text.
  • Keep the keyword percentage low.
  • See keywords as just one piece of the SEO jigsaw rather than the main thing.

So, if you were of the opinion that just putting in as many keywords as possible would make a difference to how you are ranked on Google, then you would be correct in thinking that just it is not going to work out in the manner that you had hoped. Instead of ranking higher as a result, you are going to head in the opposite direction because it is all about careful placement of keywords, not overdoing it, and also just providing your visitors with something that is worthwhile.

The days of throwing countless backlinks or keywords at a website are now long gone and the Internet is better for it.