The art of web design takes years of practice to really understand how it works. There are so many ideas and UI elements which can build a solid impression on your audience. Designers are always striving to please the visitor and make their experience fun and easy.
Some trends have come out which are frequently seen in modern-day websites. In this guide I want to share a few ideas on how you can design a web layout which leaves a powerful lasting impression. Visitors will keep coming back to your site for the atmosphere and (hopefully) some great content.
Do Something Different
Most of the infamous websites which stand the test of time are known because of a unique personality trait. Designing a layout requires simplicity for navigation and content management. However there is plenty of room to spice up areas around your header and footer.
Considering the very top of your page is viewed by every single visitor, this is a crucial area. You want to catch their attention early with some type of unique branding. This could be a logo design, vector mascot, specialized navigation, or any other cool ideas. It doesn’t hurt to look through some web galleries and see what others have done.
A great example is the MailChimp branding with their vector mail-monkey. This little guy is seen all over their website, banner ads, and even in the admin dashboard. This impression is burned into your brain and difficult to forget. Whenever MailChimp ads are running on another website it’s definitely something I notice.
It can be fun to sit around and test out new web ideas. Sometimes these can turn into groundbreaking scripts for your sidebar or header content area. It never hurts to spend a couple hours toying around in jQuery or CSS and you may hit on a great concept.
Some examples include a unique accordion jQuery navigation menu. When you’ve got links and sub-links it takes work to put together a solid navigation system. But if it works for your layout then you know it’s got to be a unique setup on your website.
There are plenty of other examples but too many to list out here. I put a few ideas in a collection below which you can skim through. But examine your own layouts and see if you can test some ideas which fit well for you.
- dynamic search bar
- tabbed links in sidebar
- Ajax animated e-mail contact form
- image gallery slideshow
- unique CSS3 link hover effects
Building for Mobile
Folks who are constantly on their mobile phone will not stop to wait for your site to adapt. You want to catch your visitors by surprise and offer them a deeply enhanced mobile setup. This raises the bar on your website and opens the floodgates for massive amounts of new traffic sources.
Mobile Safari for iPhone and iPod Touch will render your website to scale unless specified otherwise. This means users can pinch & zoom their way around the site even if it’s not optimized for a mobile device. However the benefits far outweigh the negatives when offering your visitors a mobile-specific website layout.
The current trend is all about designing responsive website layouts. These are built using CSS3 media queries where the layout will re-size and adapt based on the viewport of the browser window. It means you don’t need to adjust for specific layouts since the whole website will modulate itself. It’s definitely worth looking into if you haven’t already.
Offer Unique Content
Visitors who are interested in your website will naturally remember the domain if your content is top-notch. You have to provide some form of content which is difficult to find elsewhere on the Internet. This may be digital media such as video/audio/images or even specialized content design.
A good example I can think of is designing a video game walkthrough website. GameFAQs is one example which takes user-submitted content related to any video game title. These guides can include a full walkthrough, items/weapons, secrets, and tons of other stuff.
Just having an idea so far ahead of the market curve means your site will quickly stand out among the rest. Unfortunately there are so many ideas already created and new developers joining the Internet every month. It may take some time before you figure out a really great idea – but it will come.
And when you do begin churning out content make sure you design around this. Catering to the user means catering to the content at large. Visitors are only on your website to find something they need, and the site design should only make that process quicker and easier.
There is no foolproof way to keep your visitors attached at the hip. Through A/B testing you can try new ideas and see if they stick. But ultimately you’ll need to go through many trials before capitalizing on a brand.
If your content can speak for itself then your visitors will quickly fall in love with any design. Placing a fancy website layout online with no content does not produce any active ideas. Start with a strong product or content idea and wrap a sweet layer of design all around it. If you have ideas or suggestions about impressionable design techniques be sure to let us know in the post discussion area.
Author: Jake Rocheleau
Jake is a creative designer, illustrator, and web developer. He frequently writes articles involving new-age design concepts and freelance management skills. You can find him in Google or follow his tweets @jakerocheleau