When was the last time you updated your website? Here are 7 trends you need to know about web design for 2015 that may surprise you.
These trends are all based on how most readers access your site these days. Over 60% of people who use the internet do so from a mobile device such as a cell phone or a tablet. Those users are on the move, reading when they get a few free minutes, wherever they are at the moment. It is up to the website owner to capture their attention immediately so they don’t quickly move on.
Have you ever looked at your Google Analytics to find out what devices your readers are using to access your site? One thing that shocks me about the traffic to my homeschool site is that over 74% of the traffic is from a mobile device, 44% of that is from an Apple iPhone. The next number is the Apple iPad with 11%. All other devices fall below a measly 4%.
Don’t take my word for it. Google stated in August ‘14 that,
Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. Responsive Design serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size.
Other studies have shown that you have 5 seconds or less to make a good impression. If you mess that up… Poof! The reader is gone and moves on to the next site in the search engine rankings.
I am in the process of making LJSkool more friendly for those users. Here are a few things I have learned in researching how to better serve my readers to make sure I give a great first impression. I am certain they will be of benefit to you as well.
1) Responsive Design
How responsive is your website design? Will your header (usually with the logo, which are two very different things) re-size dynamically if the device is held vertically (portrait orientation) as well as horizontally (landscape)?
Do the sidebars drop below the content or do they shrink up? People don’t have time or patience to squish and squeeze with their fingers to be able to read the content any more.
Are the breakpoints for when objects drop down as the device turns set to be pleasing to the eye so the user doesn’t even notice? Betterment is a website for website designers. They gathered 14 of the best sites that showcase the best ideas in responsive design. Notice how the site looks similar but different depending on what device it is on.
2) Blog Previews
Your homepage is like the front porch. Think about your curb appeal when designing this part of your site. Few people will come in the front door, just your newest readers. Everyone else will come in via a blog article. Your homepage should present the best of all the things you have to offer, not just your latest product. This will lead people to become regular readers.
Speaking of value, what better way to show what you have to offer than by showing snippets of your most popular posts. You can have an image with one or two sentences from the post. This is a great way to show your visitor that you have something more to give them. This is why a lot of the newest themes have the magazine style format.
Beware! This is a two-edged sword. You must be sure that you post to your blog on a regular basis. Otherwise it will show your reader that you don’t care about your blog. So why should they? If you don’t post often, make sure you take all the dates off of your posts. That way you will be able to have posts up without showing how often you write.
3) Picture Quality
Have you ever visited a site and the first thing you saw was a blurry image? Of course you have. With so many sites offering free or low-cost images, there is no reason not to use high quality photos for your site.
WPDev wrote an article about the best way to optimize your pictures for your WordPress site.
4) Smaller Popups
It seems that every site you go to has some kind of “click here so I can get your email” offer. Everyone is doing it from the top of their page and readers are beginning to ignore it. There is nothing worse than wanting to read an article on a website only to have their popup fill the entire screen of my smart phone or tablet. There is no hitting the escape key on an iPhone. This leaves me only one option, to close that window down and get out of there, never to return. If you have a popup, make sure that it can be easily turned off from a smart phone.
5) Social Media Icons
Readers are also ignoring social media icons. CoSchedule wanted to know the best practices for social media icons. They learned several things that were quite surprising.
- The upper left hand side is where people are most likely to look first. That makes sense since that is how we read.
- Too many buttons will slow down your site.
- Readers use other ways to share data.
- Only use the buttons where your readers hang out. For a homeschool blog I would say it’s a safe bet to have Pinterest and Facebook, and perhaps Instagram. If you want to use LinkedIn, put the link on your About page but not on your home page. If you have a YouTube account, maybe have your latest video on the sidebar and under the videos you use in your articles.
It is fun to upload all kinds of awesome plugins to get our sites to do more things easily. The problem with that is it can slow down the speed of your site a lot. Unless something can’t be done easily with CSS or HTML then sure, have at it. If the plugin isn’t being used then please delete it. I regularly upload Broken Link Checker, run it, find all the broken links and fix them, then delete that puppy. It is a huge load on my site time and sucks up all kinds of juice. WPEngine has a valuable list of plugins that are great, some not so great, and online alternatives.
People don’t have all day long to wait for your content and pictures to load on those mobile devices. Pictures, especially, take time to load. You must have a cache plugin that works well with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) tool. I like CloudFlare myself. They have a list of ways to help speed up your site while using their CDN program.
- Under 1 second is excellent
- Under 2 seconds is good
- Anything around 5 seconds or more requires action
These are the website design trends for 2015 that you will be noticing more of this year. Remember, feed the search engine monsters well to keep them happy.