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Now Trending in Website Design

Posted by Mia Ness on Jun 24, 2016 4:00:00 PM

Website design has evolved immensely over the last few years in regards to what users expect from their online experience, and how they interact with their devices. More and more people rely solely on mobile devices as their main point of contact with the digital world. With the advent of social media, people have become even more tied to their devices in constant management of their online social presence. Here is a quick look at five current trends to keep in mind regarding websites and how they impact the user experience (UX) in today’s fast-paced technology landscape.

  1. Responsive Layout:
    Users expect a website to be accessible across all platforms. It’s disappointing for users if they visit your site on a mobile platform and it’s inaccessible or difficult to navigate. Keep your audience in mind, and take note of how those individuals will most likely be accessing your website.woman-smartphone-girl-technology-1.jpg


  2. Rich User Interface:
    Websites today lean towards an emphasis on a minimalistic, but effective layout with a strong focus on user experience (UX). This goes hand-in-hand with a responsive layout.


    Unfortunately, a side effect of responsive design is that a lot of sites look very similar. However, having a similar look isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. Since the way in which we consume the web is evolving, this evolution has brought about a number of commonly used elements for the user interface (UI). Here are a few examples:

    1. Hamburger Menus: The “hamburger menu” is just a fancy name for those easily recognizable three lines that designate a menu on mobile platforms. Although it’s a necessary utilization of space on mobile devices, hamburger menus have become increasingly popular on the desktop versions of sites as well.

    2. Registration Forms: Users have come to expect some form of registration for attaining certain information. Multi-step form wizards are an effective way of sectioning out required fields, thus providing a more streamlined way for users to flow through the registration process. Many people are also more likely to register if they have the option to sign-up through a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter.

    3. Long scroll: Utilizing a site with scrolling works great when you have a story to tell. By breaking the scroll into clear sections you can still mimic a multi-page site that is easy to follow. Just make sure users can easily get back to the top of the page if desired.ipad-tablet-technology-touch.jpg

    4. Card Layouts: Think Pinterest! A card layout presents quick bits of information that are ideal for the eye to scan through quickly. These content containers stack easily and can be arranged at different break points for various devices, making it very friendly when it comes to mobile-responsiveness.
  1. Animation & Visuals:
    Users generally prefer to scan content and let visuals weave a story. With this in mind, animations are being used more and more to enhance a site’s storytelling and enhance the interactivity of a site. Take careful consideration of whether an animation could add to your site’s story elements and personality.


    Typically animations are broken down into two main categories:

    1. Large-scale animations: Large scale animations have the largest impact on users as primary interaction tool. Examples would include pop-up notifications and parallax scrolling.

    2. Small scale animations: Small-scale animations are easier to integrate into a website and include spinners, hover tools and loading bars. These animations don’t require any user input and act on their own based on the sit’s functionality.

  2. Micro-Interactions:
    People want their online experience to feel personable and human. A website can accomplish this with use of micro-interactions. Micro-interactions are at the core of any mobile app making your device feel more human-like and less robotic. Ideally, these interactions should happen almost invisibly. Consider each detail with care, and make each interaction feel natural. 


    Examples of micro-interactions include:
    1. Communicating a real-time status update.
    2. Seeing the result of an interaction initiated by the user.
    3. Helping the user to manipulate something on the screen.
  1. Social Integration:
    Society has entered the digital age of social-sharing and people expect to distribute information freely. Social media has transformed brand like not other previous form of communication. It changes the fundamental nature of the brand/customer relationship making businesses more transparent and easily accessible.


    Have a social plan and pay attention to how your users are utilizing social media by tapping into Google Analytics. Take advantage of this information to make sure your site flows with how your users want to share your information. It’s important that you’re constantly evaluating and updating your social media strategy based on your results, interactions, and analytics.

Conclusion:
Don’t follow trends just because it seems to be the “cool” thing to do. Trends represent popular techniques for good reason. Always evaluate what is best for your users and how they expect to be using your site, and tailor your site’s functionality based on that information.

For more information on how Network Center, Inc. can help you develop a digital strategy and enhance your online presence, click on the link below.

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Topics: Web Development, Web Design

The Interactive Services Client Process

Posted by Mia Ness on Feb 2, 2015 4:57:00 PM

Website DesignSo you’re in the market for a new website. The last time you changed the look of your site was about 8 years ago. It currently looks flat, blocky, and the navigation is clunky. You’re prepared to take the leap into the process feet first, but you’re still not sure what to expect. “How does the process work?” “How long will it take?” “How do I convey what I want?” A website is an important investment for your business. Not only will you be able to reach out to a larger pool of potential clients, but you’ll also have the power to target the individual needs of your customers. “So, this sounds great. But how do I get started?”

Sit down with a designer and developer for an initial meet. This first step in the process is crucial because it sets your expectations for the project. Communication is key. This is the part where you tell them what you want out of your site so they can give you an accurate idea of the “Scope,” or overview of the project. The more detailed you can make the scope, the smoother the process will go, and the estimation of price will be much more accurate. So, as the client, what can you expect from the designer and developer, and what can you do to make the process go as smoothly as possible?

  1. Research: The more information you can provide the designer and developer with, the smoother the process will go. It always helps if you’ve surfed the Internet a bit, and can provide some examples of what you like. Tell them specifically WHY you like the examples you provided. This not only helps the designer, but also the developers in knowing what you’re looking for as far as back-end functionality.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations: This goes both ways. Tell your designer/developer exactly what you want in the provided timeline. As a designer/developer it’s also their responsibility to give you, the client realistic expectations for your goals. If you ask for something out of the ordinary don’t be surprised if that takes a little more time (and costs a bit more) than usual.

  3. Website DesignSay What You Don’t Like: Most people will spend the majority of their time telling the designer what they like, but they forget to mention what they don’t like. This is just as important. Is there a color you can’t stand? Something you just don’t want your site to do? Let them know! The more information you can give them the better.

  4. Be Completely Honest: It’s their job to create a site for YOU. It’s your site; so if there’s something you’re not crazy about after the initial proof, please don’t hold it back! Don’t be afraid of offending them by saying what you want out of your site. The more honest you can be, the smoother the process will go, and the happier you’ll be with the finished product.
  1. Be prepared for questions, but don’t forget to ask them too!: Initially, you’ll hear questions like, “What colors do you prefer,” “What does your logo look like?” “What kind of functionality does your site need to have?” The more questions on both sides, the more accurate the finished product will be. As you get further into the development stages the questions will become more specific. Communication is key.

  2. It’s better to Over-Budget than Under-Budget: With any large-scale project it’s safe to say that you might have some unforeseen complications or requests somewhere in the process. As a client, don’t spread your finances too thin. Be realistic about what you can afford, and clearly communicate that to your designer/developer. Accurate communication really helps streamline the process so you get the most out of your site.

  3. Website DesignWhat if I don’t really know what I want? That’s fine too! Especially if it’s your first website, you might not have the best idea of what you’re looking for. This is where good communication and accurate questions come in. It might take a little longer in the early stages, but you will still get to your goal. Don’t be afraid to experiment with out of the box ideas.

  4. Share Meeting Notes: Sometimes you cover a lot of information in one meeting. If a great deal of information is presented, it’s unlikely the average person is going to remember every item discussed. It’s ideal if one person takes meeting notes and shares them with the attendees directly following the meeting. This way you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and avoid unintentional “he said” “she said” situations.
If these tips are followed throughout the preparation process the rest should flow smoothly. Moral of the story is that the more prepared you are walking into the process, the smoother the overall project will go. Above all, HAVE FUN! These pointers are applicable to mobile app development, custom application development, and many other products within our Interactive Services department as well. Our talented team can help you through the process from start to finish to make sure that your product not only looks the way you want it to, but also includes all the functionality you need for your business to be successful. The process shouldn’t be a hassle and the ultimate goal is that you absolutely love your new product. 

For more information on website development, contact a designer or developer at NetWork Center, Inc. today!

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Topics: Web Development, Web Design, Interactive Services

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