web design trends

4 Web Design Trends To Look Out For In 2017

Website design and development is ever-changing. As people’s tastes and attitudes change, so do their expectations, wants and needs from a website. In our latest feature, we take a closer look at some of the trends we expect to see dominating web design for the rest of the year, and the influences behind them:

Minimal design

Whilst minimal design is not a new concept, its almost-accidental resurgence is a trend we see becoming common place in 2017, especially in the lifestyle and fashion industries. How? The rise of responsive web design gave way to brands ensuring their websites presented a cohesive visual aesthetic across all devices. Cue a scale back in text and graphic heavy homepages for the benefit of mobile and tablet users, and more emphasis placed on big splash images, spacious layouts and grid-style content boxes, which can easily scale or reposition themselves dependent on screen size.

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Fashion retailer H&M’s latest online incarnation follows minimal design to ensure users have the same familiar experience across all devices.

Real-life photos of real-life people

In 2017, expect to see more businesses using original photos and graphics as their core web and social media imagery. Consumer perception of stock photography has taken a major hit in recent years, with the advent of meme subcultures ridiculing bad stock images and their accompanying websites. As The Balance explains, people are now more aware of how stock images are produced, and perceive websites using stock as their core imagery as being unoriginal and without brand identity.

With smart phones cameras now having incredible 4k quality and hundreds of apps making graphics easy, businesses will now be able to take great real-life photos of their real-life customers using their products and services. Customers will better connect and engage with these visuals because they appear genuine. Stock images will still have a role to play in web design, particularly for landscape photography, but it will be less noticeable – and less meme-able!

AMP as the norm

The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project took off in 2016, bringing speed and clarity to Google’s mobile users and seeing impressive results. Slate reports AMP led to a 44% increase in monthly unique visitors, with similar gains for many other news sites using the platform. More impressive are reports of Google’s recently-added ad formats delivering up to 65% increases in ad engagement versus non-AMP ads. By the end of 2017, expect most news and media outlets to switch-over to AMP, as Google AdWords/AdSense and partnered CMS platforms like WordPress promote its effectiveness.

Artificial intelligence as a CRM tool

As recently as 10 years ago, you would be hard pressed to convince even the most optimistic developer that artificial intelligence would become a norm in web design. The idea of a computer being able to effectively communicate and manage customer services was still something out of a science fiction movie. Yet, here we are.

Phenomenal advances in behavioural analysis and data processing make it possible for “chatbots” – software programmes that present themselves as customer service representatives on a website – to handle real-time customer queries. When a customer asks a question, the bots filter through thousands of pre-prepared responses. The bots then respond to the customer, with a unique tone of voice so the customer doesn’t feel like they’re talking to a robot. If a unique issue is presented, the chatbot will notify a real-life employee, then learning how that person responds to a matter for future reference.

Every Fortune 1000 company is expected to have some sort of chatbot functionality on their website, social media and apps in 2017, and the relatively low cost of integrating a chatbot (versus the expense of employing full-time staff members to manage online customer services) means this trend will trickle through to larger SMBs towards the end of the year.

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M&S Bank was one of the first UK banks to introduce chatbot technology. “Hannah” even has her own distinct chatty personality.

Speak to Oneclick Media Services about our bespoke web design services. Call us on 020 8731 5266 or click here.

Small Business Mobile Apps

3 Reasons To Go Bespoke With Your Mobile App

Small Business Mobile Apps

Small business mobile apps are set to surge in adoption in 2017. If you haven’t already considered building your own mobile app, chances are your competitors have, with nearly 50% off all SMBs expected to have a mobile application in 2017.

Market forces have driven this shift. Customers expect the stores they shop at and services they use to have accompanying apps for their convenience, with ComScore reporting 85% of UK customers prefer using an app over a website when making purchasing decisions.

With this demand, the UK has seen a sharp rise in the number of off-the-shelf template-based app builders. These services offer a short-term cheaper alternative to bespoke mobile application development, where SMBs can build a mobile app using a templated design with pre-built functionality. Costs are kept low as thousands of companies essentially share the same template and features.

For some businesses, this approach to app development can make sense. For example, a small cleaning company that simply requires an app to list prices and book jobs, or a local Indian takeaway that simply takes orders. However, for many businesses template apps can be troublesome, and in some cases illegal, so consider the following when deciding on how to approach and build your app.

What You Need To Consider Before Using An Off-The-Shelf App Builder

Ownership and Intellectual Property

Despite having your logo on it and selling your products and services, in almost all cases you don’t own your off-the-shelf app. The company that designed the template or hosts the app builder does, and you are simply licensing it. Why does this matter? For some businesses, their app can become an integral part of their operation, but if they don’t own the rights to the app, it holds no asset value. This means should you want to sell your business, having the #1 app on the App Store will not increase the sale value of your business, as it isn’t your intellectual property.

Furthermore, should the app company hike up prices (if you use a subscription model to pay for the app and hosting), you may be forced to pay up as they can pull your app from market at any time, and they will not allow you to copy-paste your app or migrate it to another provider. Similarly, if the app company goes bust, your app can disappear without a trace along with your data and orders.

Unique Features and Functions

By their nature, a templated app means there are hundreds of other similar companies with the exact same app, simply masked with a different logo. Assess your customer base wisely; if your customers expect a unique user experience, you may only achieve that with a custom-built app that’s designed around the exact needs of your business and customers.

As a rule of thumb, should your business requires your app to feature any unique features and functions, go bespoke. It is costly adding custom development to an off-the-shelf app not designed for it, and given you would not own the rights to the app regardless of how many unique features you pay hundreds or thousands for, it would be a better investment building your own app from the ground up.

Data Protection and Security

Small business apps that manage private information and user data will need to ensure their app complies to all legal requirements in their industries. It may be difficult to guarantee this protection with an app owned by a 3rd party, as it is possible they can see all data coming in and out of the app.

App vulnerability is also an important factor to consider. With potentially thousands of businesses using the same template, it would only take one of these apps to be hacked to leave all of them vulnerable to attack – including yours! Bespoke app development provides small businesses with more control over the security of their app, and in some sectors like financial planning or accounting, it is a legal requirement.

If you’re not sure about how to approach your mobile app, or want to speak to Oneclick Media Services about our bespoke mobile application development services, call us on 020 8731 5266 or click here.

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What You Need to Know Before Building Your Small Business Website

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Having a website for your small business is essential. However, keep in mind that “Bad sites – ones full of mistakes – are almost as damaging as having no site whatsoever.”

There are number of errors you can fall into when crafting your website. You could have a terrible design or overload your site with text. Or you could have poor CTA’s and keyword targeting, thereby failing to convert visitors.

Because of the many details you need to consider, as well as the potential pitfalls, creating your business’s website can be overwhelming. You have a lot to consider, from how you want to advertise your business to how much and what kind of content you want to publish.

The first decision you need to make is whether or not you want to design your site yourself or hire someone else. Your answer to this question will narrow down how you should proceed. So which option should you choose?

Make Sure That Saving Money Is Worth It

One of the biggest influences on your decision will likely be cost. The expense of building your own website is going to be rather high when it comes to the number of zeros on the bill. There is no question that you will get what you pay for, but what you pay for also depends on precisely what you want from your website. There is no such thing as “one size fits all.”

Perhaps you want to establish a website that is more on the complex side. Maybe you’re looking for page after page of displayable content, each with its own child pages that branch out and interact with other pages on your site.

In this case, you will probably want to contract outside help to keep your project from getting too crazy. It’s easy to start out with a simple task only to discover that it is a lot more involved than you originally thought.

For example, suppose that you have a few products that you’ve already built out. Let’s say that one of them is an eBook for marketing automation. It is filled with gated content for email opt-ins that will bring consumers through the conversion funnel.

However, because you have to widen your funnel on the front end, you will need a substantial and robust blog. Your blog will need enticing and interactive graphics. You might need polls, a Disqus plugin, and a standout share bar, as well as CTAs splashed throughout each of your blog posts.

While you might know how to market your product, you could lack experience in developing a robust and beautiful blog. And building your blog is key to your success, so you will need a team that has had previous experience with gated content projects. In this situation it is far better to hire outside help than to handle everything on your own.

When You’ll Want to Do It Yourself

On the other hand, you might want a simple and straightforward website with minimal fluff and pizzazz. In this case, it could benefit you to look into what it takes to construct your own website. If building your own site is the best option for you, doing so will save you time and money in the long run.

What’s more, crafting your own small website from scratch can give you the skills to eventually be able to create one that is bigger and more cutting-edge. Start small on your own, and keep building on your knowledge.

The truth is, web design is not that hard to learn. There are many courses out there, as well as shared knowledge online. What might be most helpful is a course on web design and creation that trains you in the Java language.

Java is one of the many languages that computer software understands, and it is also one of the most popular. C++ is another well-known coding language with which you might be familiar.

Once you are immersed in the lingo of computer and web-based commands, the overall concepts will click. Then you will be able to leap back and forth between different computer-based languages.

Taking courses in web design will not merely allow you to overcome obstacles that will certainly come your way. The courses will also give you ideas for your website that you would otherwise not have considered. Educating yourself in this way can be a great strategy for setting yourself up for success as you build your site.

Remember, Creating and Maintaining Websites Takes Time

If you do decide to take the leap and construct your website on your own, then you should know that it will take time. Rome was not built in a day, and your website will not be either.

Building an entire website from scratch is tough, but worth it in the end. If you take the proper first steps, such as receiving a Java certification and training, you will streamline the time you spend working on your site.

No Matter What, Have a Plan for Debugging Your Site

Whether or not you decide to build your website by yourself or with an experienced web designer, you need to think of your site as a living thing that, much like you, can get sick.

“Getting sick” takes the form of overloading and crashing. Sometimes websites garner too much traffic for the server to support, and all that stress can cause the server to overload and crash. Other times, your coding (or your designer’s coding) might have a lapse that causes the site to crash.

When these events happen—and they do more often than you think—you should have a solution that will enable you to get your site debugged. If you hired a firm, chances are they will jump on the problem immediately and take care of the issue for you. But if you built the site yourself, you should know what to do when it gets buggy.

There Is Pride in Creating Something Amazing from Scratch

There are website building platforms out there that allow you to get a free site simply by clicking a few times. But those platforms (such as WordPress or Wix) tend to be very limited in terms of what they permit you to do.

That is why having the ability to construct your very own site is such a great skill to have under your belt. You can fix any issues you might encounter on your own. You will save a ton of money in the long run, and you will also have the pride of crafting something amazing with your own two hands.

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Improve Your UX with These Easy Tips

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UX, or user experience, is moving to the forefront of considerations for modern web designers. A great user experience can make or break your company’s app or website. In fact, it can mean the difference between a visitor and a customer. In today’s digital world, businesses must ensure their apps and websites are easy to navigate. This way, users can focus on learning about and purchasing your company’s products or services, not on navigating the website.

You can take several steps to improve UX and boost conversions, so keep the following tips in mind when it comes time to overhaul your website. Something that seems as simple as easier site navigation can have tremendous effects on your conversion rate and profitability, so don’t discount the effects of stellar UX design.

Interactive Content

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Image Source:http://www.blog.marketo.com

Interactive content naturally leads to greater engagement. If you want visitors on your website to take the time to investigate what you have to offer fully, construct interactive elements that will capture their attention and motivate them to explore. You can provide several types of interactive content, such as:

Video games started moving from niche hobby to mainstream entertainment about 20 years ago, and since then, games have eclipsed major motion pictures in terms of industry value. Nearly everyone in the country plays some type of video game on a regular basis, from dedicated gamers with high-powered consoles to casual mobile game players. You can capture this popularity for your website through gamification, or the process of making a customer interaction like a video game. Some brands even have proprietary games made specifically for their websites.Video games encourage exploration and experimentation and are typically goal-oriented. You don’t have to go overboard and assume you need to create a fully fleshed-out video game just for your business. Keep it simple and fun, and your audience will enjoy a break from typical website offerings.

People in general like challenges, and quizzes offer them the opportunity to show what they know. You may even want to incentivize your visitors by offering a coupon if they successfully complete a quiz. This can be especially impactful if your brand is highly specialized or caters to a well-defined niche audience. Many brands offer loyalty or points-based rewards programs to regular customers. If your brand does this, consider offering a point bonus for completing quizzes.

Similar to quizzes, surveys will appeal to a well-defined audience. They are also fantastic tools for gaining customer insight. Use surveys to find out what your visitors like and don’t like about your website, and use what you learn to make future adjustments. Just like quizzes, you can incentivize visitors with discounts or other rewards for completing surveys. However, if you take the time to make these questionnaires fun and engaging, you leave a more lasting impression with the user.

Interactive content will make your site memorable. However, make sure you don’t cross the line into garish, awkward, or interactive content that isn’t appropriate for your brand. Games may not appeal to certain audiences, so look for new ways to reach your audience if this approach doesn’t sound like it would work for your brand.

Common-Sense Organization

Even the most creative and spontaneous people appreciate logic. When people visit your website, the main goal should be to allow them to find what they need easily and still draw their attention around various parts of your site organically. If a user can’t easily navigate your site or find what they need without complications, they will more than likely click away to a competitor. You can avoid this by organizing your site using common sense.

Common-sense organization extends to both visual appeal and usability. Visually, you should consider using a grid-based layout to organize the visual elements, graphics, text, and interactive areas on your site. Ideally, your site should be rich in content without being overwhelming or appearing cluttered. In terms of usability, visitors on your website should be able to navigate to the page they need easily without having to spend too much time hunting for it. Whatever the layout of your site, any typical visitor should be able to find exactly what he or she needs within seconds.

Personalization

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Image Siurce:http://www.webpagefx.com

If your website uses any type of customer login system, personalization should be a natural choice for better UX. Personalized content is a great way to show visitors to your site that you pay attention to them and want to help them find what they need. You can personalize content by tailoring it to a user’s past purchases, page views, product reviews, comments, and other interactions on the website.

You’re probably familiar with many websites’ “Recommended for You” sections. These websites harvest your user data from past interactions to predict what will interest you most or have the most value to you. If you take the time to construct such a system, visitors to your website will appreciate having content ready just for them. This enhances overall UX by making the user feel more at ease, and most users enjoy feeling special.

Design for Multiple Screens

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Image Source:http://www.adlibbing.org

Tech has evolved to what was science fiction a few decades ago. Today, people spend hundreds of dollars on new mobile devices and want to squeeze every bit of usability out of them. If you haven’t investigated or don’t understand responsive design, it’s time to rethink your UX. More people than ever are using mobile devices to browse the web, enjoy content, shop, and engage with others, so if you’re not capitalizing on mobile UX, you’re likely falling behind your competitors.

Responsive design describes web design that “responds” to the screen on which it is viewed. It’s vital to construct your site in such a way that visitors know what to expect when they connect with your brand, regardless of the device with which they do it. Your website should be consistent and deliver a great experience on any size or type of screen. For example, many new smartphones feature eye tracking, retina displays, and 4K resolution. If you don’t have content ready to make use of these features, customers aren’t going to be very impressed. Conversely, taking the time to design for a variety of devices will enable customers to get the most from engaging with your brand.

Guide Your Visitors

Lastly, guidance is crucial for great UX. Users are more tech-savvy today than ever before, so overt handholding isn’t necessary. Just make sure you offer some kind of wayfinding tool for your users. For example, you could configure your site to play a brief tutorial for first-time visitors. Pop-up graphics can highlight different areas of the screen the visitor can use to find what they need. Additionally, you need to account for legibility.

Screen layout is far more important than you may realize, and your site should guide visitors around your content following natural conventions. For example, people in the United States and much of the rest of the world are accustomed to reading from left to right. Organizing your content with this in mind will help guide your site’s visitors through your webpages in a natural way. When you neglect conventional legibility, users will likely find your website clunky or convoluted.

When you think about how you can boost engagement and increase conversions on your website, keep these UX tips in mind. Different brands are going to benefit from different changes, but remember the basics: Offer your visitors value and capture their attention, give them the tools they need to navigate what your site has to offer, and encourage interaction.

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Boost eCommerce Sales Using These 5 Research-Backed Principles

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Did you know that 99 percent of people who visit your eCommerce store won’t buy on their first visit and that many won’t return again after that? Or did you know that for every $92 spent on attracting visitors, the average online business spends just $1 on converting them? These statistics and people’s ignorance on how to boost conversions, explain why many eCommerce businesses struggle.

You don’t need specialized knowledge to boost sales on your eCommerce store. Likewise, you don’t need to fork out money to pay conversion experts. Instead, these simple — really, super simple — tips that are grounded in research, will boost sales on your eCommerce store significantly.

Attune Your Usage of Color to Your Demographics

From a design perspective, we tend to underestimate the role that color plays on conversion rates. For many people, the choice of what color to use in their products and design is left to personal preference and desire, when in reality using the right color combinations can boost sales.

According to a study that analyzed 100 brands and studied 450 non-color blind participants, it has been proven that color can influence the likability and familiarity of people to feel toward a brand. Another study that observed the role that color played in marketing and decision-making found that people make up their minds within 90 seconds of interacting with people or products, and that up to 90 percent of their assessment is influenced by colors.

What’s more important to note, however, is that the colors that work best for men might not be welcomed by women — so it is important to attune your colors to your demographics. Colors can also influence how your brand is perceived, and as a result boost sales — a good example of a company that gets color right is Cadbury, who successfully uses the purple color to communicate luxury. You can use the color blue to communicate trust and integrity; Facebook and Twitter are major examples of companies that use this color.

Research has shown that both male and female are more likely to prefer the color blue, but while women largely favor the color purple, it won’t work with an audience of men. The graph below shows color preference for both men and women.

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Anchor Your Offer for Easy Comparison

Often times you try to shop on Amazon and see something like this:

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To the untrained eye, there’s nothing special about the above listing. However, take a look at the “List Price” and the “Price” and you’ll notice a difference — including a “list price” creates the impression that you’re getting a bargain, because the main price is automatically anchored to it. What’s especially surprising is that the very same laptop costs $179.99 on Target.com (Yes, it’s cheaper!), yet research points to the fact that the Amazon listing is likely to result in more sales. Why? Anchoring!

Often times, when we want to make a decision, we try to look for a reference point — an anchor — that we can use to judge our decision. In this case, by showing people a list price of “$199.99” and an actual price of “$184.86,” people feel that they are getting a discount and rush to buy — in reality, however, the product is much cheaper elsewhere. By introducing the “list price” option, Amazon is making it the “anchor” instead of having people anchor the product based on the price of their competitors.

Anchoring is a very powerful technique, and if used correctly, it can powerfully boost your ecommerce sales.

Use Security and Trust Seals

Often, the decision of many people not to buy from you has nothing to do with the quality of your products or the persuasiveness of your copy. It’s a trust issue, and this often poses a serious problem compared to others.

If people don’t trust you, they will never buy from you. There’s nothing you can do about that.

According to a study conducted by Econsultancy/Toluna, 48 percent of people are wary of performing online transactions on sites without a trust seal. This makes sense, especially when you consider how often major websites are hacked these days.

If you have no trust seal on your website, add one and you’ll notice a dramatic increase in sales.

Besides using a trust seal, you can also make people trust you more by using testimonials, featuring customer reviews (both positive and negative), having an about page and having your phone number displayed prominently on your website.

Start a Blog

I’m actively involved in the Website Setup project, where we teach people how to set up a blog (for good reasons!), so I can’t resist including this. And this is for two key reasons:

  1. 99 percent of people won’t buy on their first visit to your site. Blogging serves as a means to educate, inform and keep your products in the mind of people who choose not to buy immediately.
  2. Businesses that blog generate 67 percent more leads than businesses that do not blog. They also experience better search engine rankings, better bonding with users, and are able to more easily inform users about the benefit of their products — all these contribute to more sales.

If you don’t have a blog for your ecommerce store yet, starting one will most certainly boost sales. However, your approach needs to be a bit different from the traditional “blogging” approach. Here are some tips:

  • Capitalize on product reviews: due to a blog’s ability to easily rank in the search engines, creating product reviews and publishing them on your blog will ensure better rankings for your product reviews, eventually generating more sales.
  • Do comparisons: Do you have an eCommerce store that sells computers? If yes, a simple comparison of “Apple vs Mac computers” on your eCommerce blog can be a great sales driver. People will tend to refer to these comparisons, and it will also rank in search engines. By linking to the products you compare in your store, you’re more likely to experience a sales boost.
  • Publish more content: Statistics show that businesses that publish 16 or more blog posts monthly get the most results from blogging — in fact, they get 3.5 times more traffic, and as a result, a lot more sales than businesses that publish less than four blog posts monthly. As an e-commerce store, the volume of content published could be one of your biggest assets.

Limit Choices

As an eCommerce store with hundreds or even thousands of products, it sounds like the best thing to do is showcase relevant products to people at every stage of the buying process. However, research shows that this isn’t effective. In a study conducted at an upscale supermarket, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper found that limiting choices displayed to people from 24 varieties of items to just six varieties was able to boost sales by up to 10 times.

If you have a store with a lot of different variety of products, where it is virtually impossible to limit choices, you can still capitalize on the fact that limited choices boost sales by doing the following:

  • Feature your most popular products: What are the five most purchased product in a particular category on your eCommerce store? Showcase these products in a special section and make it easy for users to find them;1 instead of being confused with possibly thousands of products, they easily see what resonates with others.
  • Feature products with the most reviews: By featuring products with the most reviews, you let users decide. Even if there are a thousand products in a certain category, reviews show people which ones people like best. This allows you to use a combo of social proof and limited choices (in terms of what other people think is best) to boost sales.

Showcase your top picks: Sometimes, maybe you feel certain products will do better than others due to some other information you have. Showcase these products in a special section for every category; include no more than three to six products as top picks.

Conclusion

There are many ways to boost eCommerce sales – whether it is through the right use of color to communicate a message about your brand or by using elements of trust to get more people to buy from you. Hopefully, the above tips help you boost eCommerce sales.

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5 Key Strategies to Market a “Boring” Brand with Smart Web Design

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Branding a product or service that’s less than sexy has its challenges. Things like banking and health insurance rarely make the heart sing. Yet numerous “boring” brands have found ways to hit it out of the park with their digital communications. Strategic brand and web design tactics play key roles in their success. There are hundreds of ways to spice up a bland brand, but here are five essential design strategies to effectively market a “boring” product or service online.

Clean and Clutter-Free Design

I won’t advocate for strict minimalism where it doesn’t make sense, but with homepage designs, many businesses often try to do too much at once. Frequently overloaded with content, a site homepage may do better acting as the beautiful, can’t-miss book cover.

The push to include everything on the homepage is understandable; there’s a natural fear that the potential consumer won’t stick around if they aren’t clear on the whole story right away. But it’s often the opposite—if you can hook a new visitor with just the right tagline, image, or even mood, they will dive deeper on their own. The key with this approach is “edit to amplify.”

Simple bank has put its name into practice—the homepage is clean, warm and speaks to potential bank customers’ goals (rather than presenting a cold sales pitch). The use of high-quality photography and on-trend, hand-crafted fonts is an engaging, lifestyle-based approach for a company that provides financial services.

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Integrated Podiatry Clinic rejects the standard medical specialist site approach and showcases the potential beauty of the human foot, overlaid with a bold and clever call to action to “Put your feet in good hands.”

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Consider: How much information do you really need to share up front? Where can you create intrigue and draw users further into your brand experience?

Fewer Choices

Ever felt like a deer in the headlights in the grocery store cereal aisle? American brands are really good at providing choice—lots of it. But sometimes too much choice is overwhelming, and consequently, detrimental to the user experience. If you have a specific path you want the user to follow, design accordingly. Providing them with too many navigation choices may backfire, and they could leave the site before trying any of them.

Oscar’s health insurance site minimizes the main navigation bar to an expandable menu, and focuses user attention directly on a clear introduction and “get your quote” call to action. Scrolling reveals more information, but many users will appreciate the focus and clarity of the single action item when landing on the site.

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Consider: Are you providing too much choice? How can you limit decisions to improve user experience? 

Be Brave (And Embrace Good Design)

Just because the product or subject matter is a bit dry doesn’t mean the design has to be. Conservative brands often shy away from embracing the latest design trends, afraid to rock the boat and scare off potential customers. While it’s important to carefully consider the end user, a little more design risk could result in bigger rewards, warmer brand feelings and stronger customer loyalty.

Kinetic Superannuation doesn’t shy away from bold photography and bright colors, along with a bold call to action to “Get Your Super Moving.”

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Charles Milnes & Company provides insurance and risk management, but isn’t afraid to take design risks: bright colors, bold shapes and dynamic details make for an exciting brand impression.

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Consider: Can you push the design a bit further? Can you open up new opportunities with a little brand risk? 

“I Feel You”

Be empathetic. Be real. How can you make the user’s experience as easy and seamless as possible—and beyond that, fun? This can be as simple as providing hover tooltips or adding estimated reading time to an article so users can decide whether they have time to click through.

Maybe you humanize an otherwise technical product by adding fun easter eggs. For example, I use Freshbooks to manage my timekeeping and invoices. Tracking time is not my favorite thing to do, but occasionally when I log my time, Freshbooks cheers me on with silly messages like, “Way to go!” or “Pow!” Humorous and unexpected details like these add personality to a pretty square service.

Consider: What are your users’ pain points? How can you make their experience painless, and better yet—enjoyable? 

Surprise Them With Motion

Video and animation can tell the brand story and establish mood in immediate and impressive ways, and dynamic content of any sort helps a static product or brand feel current and relevant. Video is more popular than ever, and allows for product demonstrations, engaging storytelling, and viral potential.

I would not necessarily expect to see clever video on a cleaning service’s website, but that’s exactly what we get from UK-based Eagle Clean’s homepage—a background video of a quick screen clean (and you can even download their “Screenclean screensaver”). It’s a surprising, delightful and fun addition to what could have been an otherwise boring online brochure about professional cleaning services.

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eagleclean.co.uk

ACME’s site feels less like a website and more like a cinematic, immersive experience—all to market services and solutions like “logistics and distribution,” “industrial automation” and “pneumatic and vacuum manipulators.”

 

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17 great parallax scrolling websites

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Today’s advanced web technologies make it possible to create remarkable effects in the browser. While these effects can be gimmicky, when employed in the right way they can result in a distinctive and memorable website.

One fairly recent web design trend is parallax scrolling, which involves the background moving at a slower rate to the foreground, creating a 3D effect as you scroll down the page. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but when used sparingly it can provide a nice, subtle element of depth. You’ll find more advice in our pro tips for building parallax websites post.

But to show how it should be done, we’ve collected together sites that employ the technique to good effect. In some cases the parallax scrolling is the star of the show; in others it simply adds a touch of depth that makes the foreground seem to pop out a little. We hope you find this a useful source of inspiration for your next project, and if you come across any creative examples that we’ve not listed, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.

01. Firewatch

Each layer of trees moves independently

One of the most beautiful examples of parallax scrolling we’ve seen is this website for the game Firewatch, which uses six moving layers to create a sense of depth. It’s great because there’s no scroll hijacking (something that often accompanies the parallax effect), and it’s only used at the top of the page – the rest of the site is still so you can read the information without getting seasick. If you want to see how it’s done, here’s a nice demo on CodePen.

02. Garden Studio

Layering of the landscape makes it seem three dimensional

In a similar vein, Garden Studio have also opted to use the parallax technique in a sensible and delightful way at the top of their site, before moving into a mostly static page. The shifting landscape is subtle and unobtrusive yet also the star of the show – we found ourselves scrolling up and down again and again.

03. GitHub 404

GitHub’s 404 breaks the rules of parallax for a disorienting effect

This isn’t strictly parallax scrolling as the effect happens on mouse wiggle as opposed to scroll, but it’s a really fun page that uses layering to add depth. Unlike “proper” parallax, the background moves faster than the foreground, creating a disorienting, otherworldly feel.

04. Jess & Russ

Every illustration has a sense of depth

Fancy scroll effects and illustration are the main attraction here, used to create a beautiful site that tells a story. Parallax scrolling is used throughout to add depth to the illustrations.

05. Alquimia WRG

Example of parallax scrolling websites: Alquimia

Alquimia WRG uses parallax elements to simulate a 3D space environment

Based in Milan, Alquimia WRG is a digital agency that aims to create amazing and effective experiences for brands on digital media. Clean and minimal, and only black and white, the website uses a mixture of the usual suspects (HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript) to achieve a neat package.

HTML5 canvas is used to animate the initial loading image. Subtle “parallax elements in the homepage are dynamically created and animated to simulate a 3D space environment through mouse movement,” says Andrea Bianchi, creative director at Alquimia.

Page navigation is achieved via a simple and smooth page sliding effect, which is implemented by changing CSS properties with JavaScript. The works page contains a simple list of selected projects, which, when selected, reveals further information in a smooth sliding effect.

When such content is loading, a JavaScript animated preloading bar appears at the bottom of the screen, which is a nice touch.
The site achieves its goal, which, as Bianchi says, “was to create an ideal balance between content, usability and user experience”.

06. Costa Coffee

Example of parallax scrolling websites: Costa Coffee

The Graphite Design team chose an illustrative approach for more flexibility

This impressive one paper website, The Costa Experience, is the brainchild of Brighton-based agency Graphite Digital. Having worked previously with Costa Coffee, the team was recently tasked with better communicating its products.

The result was this visually rich, parallax website full of animated illustrations and interactive elements.

07. Make Your Money Matter

Example of parallax scrolling websites: Make Your Money Matter

Manage your finances with information and advice from Make Your Money Matter

Finance and money are hardly the most interesting of subjects. But New York-based digital agency Firstborn are quids in with this dynamic parallax scrolling website Make Your Money Matter for the Public Service Credit Union.

With the aim of teaching the public the benefits of joining a credit union, rather than using a bank, this brilliant site includes everything from how a credit union works, where to find one and apply as well as a calculator showing just how much banks profit from customer’s deposits.

08. Seattle Space Needle

Example of parallax scrolling websites: Seattle Space Needle

Scrambled egg all over my face. What is a boy to do?

The site for Seattle’s iconic Space Needle starts at the base of the 605-foot tower and invites you to scroll all the way up to the top, taking in views of Seattle and the SkyCity Restaurant along the way. And if 605 feet isn’t quite high enough for you, keep on scrolling and see what you find!

09. Madwell

parallax scrolling: Madwell

New York agency Madwell uses parallax scrolling to add a sense of depth

Design and development agency Madwell, based in New York, show off their portfolio with a range of parallax scrolling effects to create a noticeable 3D style that adds a huge amount of depth.

10. Peugeot Hybrid4

parallax scrolling: Peugeot

Peugeot uses parallax scrolling to create an auto-playing web comic

Peugeot has gone all out with using parallax scrolling to create an auto-playing comic in the browser. The comic plays as you scroll down the page (or use their autoplay feature which automatically scrolls) and helps to advertise the car manufacturer’s new HYbrid4 technology.

11. Cultural Solutions

Example of parallax scrolling websites: Cultural Solutions

The circles move at different speeds for a subtle 3D effect

Arts consultancy Cultural Solutions employs a subtle parallax scrolling effect to introduce depth to its homepage. Their main brand image is the use of colourful circles – the circles in the background move slower than those in the foreground, creating a subtle 3D effect.

12. jQuery Conference

parallax scrolling: jQuery conference

The 2012 jQuery conference features some small, subtle parallax scrolling animations

The website for the 2012 jQuery conference made use of a touch of parallax scrolling in order to add some animation to the design. It’s the smaller, subtle effects that make the page seem more fluid, such as the logo and date becoming smaller after you scroll down. The scrolling also triggers animations – like the bicycle that starts to drift off to the right, and the flock of seagulls frantically chasing a shark – which add some personality to the page.

13. The Whitehouse’s Iraq Timeline

Example of parallax scrolling websites: The White House

The White House uses parallax scrolling to heighten the emotion of its Iraq War timeline

To display the timeline of the war in Iraq, the White House used parallax scrolling to tastefully add something unique. While the content scrolls as normal, the emotional background images remain static – which help them to stand out further.

14. Walking Dead

Parallax scrolling websites: Walking Dead

Walking Dead uses parallax scrolling to pull you into its gory world

We’re big fans of TV zombie drama The Walking Dead at Creative Bloq, and we were gripped by this website launched to promote it. The imaginative site harks back to the show’s comic strip origins and makes clever use of parallax scrollingto pull you into its sick and depraved world.

“We came at this as fans of the show, first and foremost,” says lead designer Gavin Beck. “With this drive, we wanted to create a world within the Walking Dead that fans could explore and appreciate.

“To achieve this, we looked to several existing technologies and techniques such as HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript/jQuery, Web Audio/HTML5 Audio, and parallax scrolling. The challenge was to find a unique approach to incorporate all these methods into a single engaging experience across all platforms.”

15. New York Times: Tomato Can Blues

Examples of parallax scrolling websites: New York Times

A beautiful experience is to be had with this parallax scrolling New York Times article

In today’s era of low attention spans and bite-size media, how do you attract people to longform journalism? Here’s a great response to that problem from the New York Times, combining some clever web design techniques with storytelling and comic-inspired illustrations created by Atilla Futaki.

One of the best examples of parallax scrolling we’ve seen lately, the article takes you through the story of a cage fighter written by Mary Pilon. As you scroll through the content, the illustrations come alive with clever animations and alterations, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the content.

Futaki’s illustrations were based on police records, witness accounts, photographs and the reporter’s notes, and the attention to detail shines through. All in all it’s a great reading experience – is this the future of online journalism?

16. Snow Fall

Example of parallax scrolling websites: Snow Fall

The New York Times’ ‘Snow Fall’ article kickstarted a whole new craze for rich parallax sites

Snowfall is the latest buzzword to hit the world of design, drawing on the best traditions of editorial layout and combining them with the exciting possibilities offered by multimedia, including parallax scrolling and web video.

The term is named after The New York Times ‘Snow Fall’ article, about the horror of an avalance at Tunnel Creek, which was published online in December 2012. The newspaper presented the Pulitzer-winning article in an innovative way that grabbed the design community’s attention worldwide.

17. The Reykjavik Confessions

Example of parallax scrolling websites: The Reykjavik Confessions

Here’s the BBC News take on a Snowfall-style story

Here’s another page using the Snowfall technique. Written by Simon Cox, The Reykjavik Confessions explores the mystery of why six people admitted roles in two murders when they couldn’t remember anything about the crimes. The presentation makes great use of white space and makes a large amount of text, which might seem intimidating in a more traditional web news context, a pleasure to navigate.

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5 ways to feel like a design rock star, working as a roadie

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How, then, do you keep your wits about you when performing soul-sucking tasks? Is it a matter of living in some sort of fantasy world or simply acknowledging the reality? Let’s look at some ways to stay on top of your game, even when you’re less-than-thrilled.

1. RECOGNIZE THE NECESSITY

Have you ever mumbled to yourself, “What a waste of my time…”? Let’s face it: There are times when you’ll have to deal with projects that seem completely unnecessary (to you, at least). It’s a natural reaction to feel that you could be doing something more meaningful in that moment.

It’s a natural reaction to feel that you could be doing something more meaningful in that moment

This is when you could easily sink into a bit of despair, and let the thought of all this meaningless work ruin your day. But come on now, you’re better than that.

Part of the problem (at least, from what I’ve experienced) is that it’s easy to think that, as an expert, you know best. And perhaps you do. But we also must acknowledge that whether we’re web designers, world leaders, or parents, not everyone is going to listen to us all the time.

Instead, take an open-minded look at the situation. Recognize the fact that the boss/client felt this was important enough to be done. You don’t have to necessarilyagree with that analysis, but it is your duty to carry it out.

At the very least, you can take pride in what you’re doing and know that it does mean something to someone.

2. DIVE RIGHT IN

When you’re faced with a task that you really aren’t excited about, you may want to put if off for as long as possible. While “delaying the pain” may seem like a good plan, you’re probably hurting yourself more in the long run.

The longer you delay the task, the more you have to sit there with it in the back of your mind. Instead, crank up your favorite music and commit yourself to getting it done. Attack the project with confidence and purpose.

If it’s a longer term project, you can certainly find time to do other things to break the monotony. Even better: go outside for a bit and enjoy nature. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to dive back in to work.

3. MAKE IT A GAME

I’ve had mountainous piles of repetitive tasks that have made both my wrists (and soul) hurt. If it’s a project that will take days or weeks to finish, I can actually find myself with a bit of Stockholm syndrome when it’s all done. This type of work can almost feel insurmountable if you don’t put it in perspective.

When faced with something like this, challenging yourself (in a fun way) can help you plow through. For example, if you’re working on something extremely repetitive, see how many times you can repeat the task in a minute or other interval. Maybe it sounds a bit like counting holes in the ceiling tiles, but it can help to make something insanely boring a bit more tolerable.

it can help you to develop a more efficient process for getting things done

Another beneficial aspect of this practice is that it can help you to develop a more efficient process for getting things done. It’s during those repetitive tasks that an idea can suddenly show up that saves you precious time.

Finding ways to make things fun (no matter how silly) will improve your mood and might even improve your work.

4. FIND PERSPECTIVE

Turn on the news for any length of time and it’s easy to see that our problems can be miniscule compared to what others face. Even so, it can be hard to think about that when you’re overwhelmed or just plain bored out of your mind.

In all honesty, it’s something I’ve struggled with over the years. Sometimes, I’ll get annoyed at work and think, “What right do I have to feel this way? I’m not terminally ill, I’m not a refugee and I’ve got it pretty good.”

The truth is that we all have our own personal hell. And it’s probably not too realistic to be in a perpetually sunny mood when it comes to work (even if you love what you do). So you can reserve the right to be a little grumpy when tasked with something you’d rather not do.

The truth is that we all have our own personal hell

The key here is to put it in perspective. I recently heard a radio interview with a top executive. Their advice on the subject was (and I’m paraphrasing): Take a look at your situation and then think about how you’ll feel about it six months from now. Will you even remember it by then?

The point is, take the work at face value. Don’t assign more meaning to it than what’s really there. That advice has actually helped me get through some things that normally would have sent me running for the bag of candy (or worse)! As it turns out, most things won’t be remembered much beyond their immediate past.

5. REMEMBER THE GOOD STUFF

Remember earlier when we discussed the reasons we love being web designers? It’s never a bad time to think about what drew you to this vocation. Thankfully, it’s the good stuff that endures. The other challenges are just temporary.

So the next time you are faced with some work that just might drive you crazy:

  • Know that, in someone’s eyes, the work is necessary (and you don’t have to agree).
  • Find a way to challenge yourself and make the task more fun.
  • Get right to work on it with a vengeance.
  • Realize that it’s okay to get annoyed, just don’t wallow in self pity.
  • Remember that you have a pretty awesome career.

It’s not always easy and it takes practice. But, if you follow the steps above, you really can learn to better deal with even the most mundane work.

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Mosaic illustration for the advertising campaign of Clear Channel in Switzerland

5 Essential Projects for Your Future Web Design Portfolio

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If you are looking for a job or a web design gig, you know that your web design portfolio is the best tool you’ve got to prove how good you are. In your portfolio, you can choose which samples you will provide and make the most of them. You can experiment and test your ideas until they’re perfect example of what you can do. But which kind of projects you should add to your web design portfolio, you might be wondering?

How to choose the best projects to your web design portfolio

For starters, you need to take two things into consideration:

  • Your skills
  • Your potential clients/employees

Regarding your skills, you need to know what you are good at before anything else. At this stage of your career, even if you are just looking for your first job, you already know in which kind of projects you excel.

Some people are better in branding, others in apps, for instance. So try and find out which are your strongest points, so you won’t be wasting your time trying to create things that you know won’t make you stand out from the crowd.

On the other hand, you will want to be aware of what your potential clients (if you are searching for a gig) or employers (if you are considering a job) are looking for at the moment. You will need to be well-informed about the demands and trends of your industry so you can present what they are expecting from you in general.

But, also, nothing is stopping from choosing a specific niche and creating a web design portfolio for just one segment. You can be the best web designer when it comes to blogs or online magazines, for example.

So make sure that you got these ideas organised in your mind before deciding what you are going to do about your web design portfolio.

The Essential Projects

After reflecting, you might decide that you are going for something more general, either because you are a newbie in the industry or because you want a web design portfolio that proves how versatile you are.

In this case, these are the essential projects that should be part of any successful web design portfolio. They are the first step to help you to land the job of your dreams, as they combined can show a skill set that will impress any client or employee.

# 1 – Your own web design portfolio

First of all, you will need to spend a decent amount of time trying to create your own web design portfolio. Getting this first step right is essential for you, as nobody will even bother to look at your projects if your website isn’t engaging. Plus, it would be weird to think of contracting a web designer whose own website isn’t their best creation.

web design portfolio

# 2 – A complete online branding package

Online branding is a serious job nowadays. With so much noise around the internet, companies need to make an extra effort so to ensure that they will be remembered and recognised by their target audience.

Logos and Letterheads have changed, but they are as strong and essential as in the past. An online branding package might also include cover and profile photos for social media, blog headers, icons for apps, etc.

So pick an imaginary company and create all items that you can image as if you had been asked to create a complete online branding package. It will show that you are can do more than basic websites.

web design portfolio

# 3 – A stock theme for a blog or website

Something that you certainly should add to your web design portfolio is a stock theme to a blog or website. It will give to your client or employee an idea of what you could create for them in the future.

The ability to design a website or blog is considered essential in your industry. So make sure that you give special attention to this project.

Do some research and search for trends and new solutions for well-known challenges, such as content-heavy websites, gaming platforms, or over-50 websites.

This way you will be able to prove your skill set and creativity.

web design portfolio

# 4 – A mobile app design

Another project that you should consider adding to your web design portfolio is a mobile app design. As so many companies are creating mobile apps nowadays, this project will show that you understand your industry and that you are updating with the newest technologies available.

And don’t worry about creating a brand new and revolutionary app. Your job is to create the design, something that delivers a great user experience. So the tool itself can be something as basic as a to-do or a time-tracker. Just make sure that you make it cool, engaging, and easy to use.

web design portfolio

# 5 – A 365 project

365 projects are another favourite of designers in general. They are a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how you can improve your skills over time and engage in a both fun and professional activity. Meaning that they will become a way to show off a bit of your personality as well. You can choose any kind of 365 project you want here.

To Sum Up

Creating a web design portfolio can be a daunting task to any web designer, especially if it is the first one. But it will give you the opportunity to prove that you are the best professional for the job, so you want to get it right.

Of course, if you got something relevant, you should always add previous jobs to your web design portfolio, for sure. They would be even more interesting if they were assigned by some well-known clients.

On the other hand, you also know that, on that very same projects, you might not have had the chance to show your best due to budget or preferences from your clients.

So your very own projects are, indeed, the best way to demonstrate your skill set. And they should be displayed in an even greater web design portfolio.

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