Advances in web design and technology makes it easy to get caught up trying to use the latest CSS tricks or mimicking the most up-to-date design trends. As a creative mind, you may begin to loose focus on the things that matter most. But the reality is, the latest and greatest design trends are are not always relevant.
As a designer, or anyone in a creative position, you sometimes have to take step back. Stop trying to one-up your peers and consider the basics – focus on your customers.
Always Factor in Performance
Most researchers advise site owners they have 3-5 seconds to grab a customer’s attention once they have landed on a page. If this crucial time is spent loading your website, user responses and conversion rates will suffer tremendously. Although it does sound a bit unfair that a few extra seconds would turn away a customer, let’s face it, no one likes to waste time. What may feel like nothing to you, as a designer, may feel like forever to a potential customer in need.
The sad part is, most load-time hangups are the result of decisions made on the front end of design. If your page is loading slowly, take these adjustments into consideration:
- Simplify design elements ( i.e., reduce drop shadows, images, and other fancy effects and flourishes).
- Use CSS Sprites to display images, or create icon fonts for common UI elements.
- Denote the height and width of your HTML image tags to ensure they load in their own time without holding up the rest of the page.
- Use responsive web design instead of a separate mobile site. Take a look at our website as an example. Instead of creating a separate URL (e.g., m.SiteURL.com), we used our existing framework to adapt to whatever device is being used to view our website. This decreases the load time on mobile devices. (Want more information on responsive we design, tune into next week’s blog entry!)
Functionality Over Appearance
As designers, we are used to questioning methods and functionality. However, when it comes to the ever-evolving world of web, there are a few core aspects we need to stick with for now, for instance:
- An easily-identified and user friendly UI system.
- An effective and prominent Call-to-Action.
- An easily identifiable search bar.
- Breadcrumbs – for complex navigational paths.
- And most importantly, functionality must be priority over design… not the other way around.
Starting out with a structure that appeals to, and works with, your audience ensures your site is just as attractive to a user as it is to another designer.
How is your website measuring up? Need to make some changes? Facebook, tweet, email, call, or just come on by – Lawson Creative would be glad to help!