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How to Get Dark Mode Design Right

Dark themes are everywhere these days. 

As human beings continue to spend more of their time interacting with technology, dark themes provide a more relaxing way to engage with the digital world. More often than not, these themes are easier on the eyes, more attractive, and perfect for the dedicated user

Throughout 2020, countless leading brands have debuted their own version of the dark theme. Google has a solution for your Drive, while Apple and Android have built dark theme performance right into their operating systems. 

If you haven’t learned how to make the most out of dark mode yet, then you could be missing out on an excellent opportunity to differentiate your design skills, and earn more clients going forward. 

Why Dark Mode?

Before we dive too deeply into the possibilities of creating your own dark theme, let’s examine what dark mode is, and why it’s so effective. 

Ultimately, dark themes are created to reduce the amount of luminance emitted by everything from your desktop and laptop, to your smartphone and smartwatch. Dark themes help to improve the visual ergonomics of design, by reducing eye strain, adjusting brightness to suit current lighting conditions, and more. Additionally, many dark mode offerings are also fantastic at conserving battery life. 

Here are some of the main benefits of adding dark themes to your design portfolio

  • Better user experience: A focus on user experience is one of the most important trends of the digital age. You need to be willing to deliver incredible experiences to everyone who visits your website if you want to stand out today. Dark mode reduces everything from eye strain, to battery power consumption. This helps to keep customers on a website for longer.
  • Innovation and cutting edge appeal: Most companies want to prove that they can stay on the cutting edge of their industry. The ability to offer an opt-in dark mode version of a website theme or appearance can help your clients to stand out from the crowd. As the environment becomes more mobile-focused, more companies will be looking for designers that can provide the best mobile experiences. 
  • Support for universal design: Dark mode isn’t just great for people who have light sensitivity at night. This solution could be more comfortable for visually-impaired users who would struggle with eye strain when visiting your websites otherwise. If you want your content to be more inclusive for a wider range of viewers, then learning how to design for dark mode is a good way to start.

Best Practices When Designing for Dark Mode

Designing for dark mode is easier than you’d think. Most of the time, it involves simply thinking about how you can replace some of the brighter, more overwhelming aspects of your site, with something deeper and darker. 

Here are some useful tips that will get you moving in the right direction. 

1. Experiment with Colors

A big issue for a lot of web designers when it comes to developing a dark mode solution is that they get too caught up with things like pure white text against pure black backgrounds. However, this high-contrast option can be a little much after a while. 

It’s often much easier to use a dark grey as your primary surface color, instead of a true black. Additionally, rather than using bright white, think about slightly off-white alternatives that will be warmer to the eye.

Experiment with surfaces and color combinations that are unlikely to cause too much eye strain. Dark grey foundations often offer a wider range of depth, too, because you can demonstrate shadows on grey. 

Additionally, when you are experimenting with colors, remember that saturated colors often vibrate painfully against very dark surfaces, making them harder to read. Desaturating your colors will help to reduce the contrast and make your websites more welcoming. 

Lighter tones in the 200-50 range will have better readability on dark themes. However, you can always experiment with your choices. Google Material Design recommends using a contrast level of around 15:8:1 between your background and text. 

2. Consider the Emotional Impact

Much of the effort involved with dark mode design is figuring out how certain colors work together. It’s easy to get carried away with stark contrasts, particularly when you’re used to working with a white background. However, you need to remember that you’re designing for a user that’s primarily looking for an easier and more subdued browsing experience.

While you’re working, remember to consider the emotional aspect of the design too. The emotion in colors can make or break a buyer’s journey in any environment. However, an often overlooked-aspect of color psychology, is that people perceive shades differently when they’re on a black background

For instance, think of the color green. On a light background, it conveys nature and even financial wealth. However, on a dark background, the same green could come across as something venomous, toxic, or even sickly. It’s important to think about the kind of impressions end users are going to get when they arrive on your site.

3. Give Users the Freedom to Choose

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you begin designing for dark mode, is thinking that you should focus entirely on your dark themes, and nothing else. This lines you up for a problem if you interact with users who want the best of both worlds. If you’re designing for apps in particular, you’re going to need web pages that can switch naturally between light and dark themes. 

Learning how to implement both a dark mode and a light mode option into the desks you create will help you to reach a wider selection of customers. Remember, you’ll need to test the performance and impact of your designs in both themes, to check that they deliver the same kind of experience, no matter how your user chooses to browse. 

Although dark mode should offer a different experience to end-users, it still needs to feel as though they’re browsing on the same website. That means that you’re going to need to experiment with the most natural combination of light and dark mode options.

4. Remember the Basics

Remember, although the three tips above will help you to get on the right path for dark mode design, you’ll also need to consider the opportunities and limitations of the platforms that you’re designing for. The kind of dark mode experience you can deliver for Google Chrome websites is going to be very different to what you can create for something running on iOS.

Examining the documentation provided by the system that you’re designing for will help you to develop something with a close insight into what’s actually possible. 

Other top tips for dark mode design include:

  • Focus on your content: Make sure that your content stands out on the page, without being too overwhelming. 
  • Test your design: In both light and dark appearances, you need to make sure everything is working as it should be.
  • Adopt vibrancy for your interfaces: Vibrancy helps to improve the contrast between your background and foreground. 
  • Use semantic colors: Semantic colors adapt to the current appearance of a website automatically. Hard-coded color values that don’t adapt can seem more aggressive. 
  • Desktop tinting: Try experiment with things like transparency and filters to give your websites and apps a slightly warmer tint – ideal for late-night browsing
  • Icons: Use individual glyphs and icons for dark and light modes if necessary. 

Ready to Design for Dark Mode?

Preparing your web development and design portfolio for an era addicted to dark mode can be a complex experience. You need to think carefully about how people are going to browse through your websites and apps when they’re searching for something more subtle, and less visually overwhelming than the websites that we’re used to making. 

The most important thing to remember is that everything on your website or application should look just as beautifully tailor-made in dark mode as it does in light mode. Simply adding a dynamic black background when people want to switch settings in an app isn’t enough. You need to go in-depth with your designs and examine how different fonts, colors, and images work together.

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The Ultimate 10 UX Influencers to Follow

The digital world is a place of constant change. Just as you get used to a new design trend, another one appears, forcing you to rethink the way that you approach each client project. 

As a web designer, it’s up to you to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse on the latest transformations in the industry. However, it can be challenging to know for sure which trends you should be taking seriously, and which you can simply ignore. 

One option to refine and enhance your design journey is to pay attention to influencers. 

Influencers aren’t just there to guide customers into making purchasing decisions. These people are thought-leaders in their field. They spend all of their time tracking down ideas and concepts that really work. That way, they can maintain a successful reputation online.

Sourcing information and motivation from the following UX influencers could help you to create some truly amazing websites in 2020: 

1. Andrew Kucheriavy 

Andrew Kucheriavy is the phenomenal co-founder and CEO of a company named Intechnic. Andrew was one of the first people in the world to be given the “Master in User Experience” award. This means that he’s an excellent person to pay attention to if you want help understanding the ins and outs of user experience design

As one of the leading visionaries in UX, business strategy, and inbound marketing, Andrew has a lot of useful information to offer professionals and learners alike. Andrew is particularly active on Twitter, where he’s constantly sharing insights on design and marketing. You can also find input from Andrew on the Intechnic blog. 

2. Jeff Veen 

Another must-follow for designers who want to learn more about understanding their audience and their position in the marketplace, Jeff Veen is a leader in UX and product design. Veen got his start with the founding team for Wired, before he created the Adaptive Path company for UX consulting. Jeff Veen is also known for being responsible for various aspects of Google Analytics. 

Over the years, Jeff has expanded his knowledge in the design space, and mentored various companies, from WordPress to Medium. He also has a fantastic podcast that you can listen to for guidance when you’re on the go. 

3. Jared Spool 

Jared Spool has been tackling the most common issues of user experience since before the term “UX” was even a thing. Excelling in the design world since 1978, Jared has become one of the biggest and most recognizable names in the user experience environment. He’s the founder of the User Interface Engineering consulting firm. The company concentrates on helping companies to improve their site and product usability. 

Jared offers plenty of handy information to stock up on in his Twitter feed. Additionally, you can find plenty of helpful links to blogs and articles that he has published around the web on Twitter too. He’s followed by Hubgets, PICUS, and many other leading brands. Make sure that you check out his collection of industry-leading talks on UIE. 

4. Jen Romano Bergstrom

An experimental psychologist, User Experience Research coach, and UX specialist, Jen is one of the most impressive women in the web design world. She helped to create the unique experiences that customers can access on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, she has a specialist knowledge of eye-tracking on the web. You can even check out Jen’s books on eye-tracking and usability testing

When she’s not writing books or researching user experience, Jen is blogging and tweeting about usability and researching new strategies in the web design space. It’s definitely worth keeping up with Jen on Twitter, particularly if you want to be the first to know about her upcoming seminars and learning sessions. 

5. Katie Dill 

Katie Dill is the former Director of Experience for Airbnb, so you know that she knows her way around some unique experiences. With an expertise in working with companies that harness new technologies and UX design, Katie Dill is at the forefront of the user experience landscape. Dill attends various UX conferences throughout the year, and publishes a range of fantastic videos on YouTube. 

You can find blogs and articles from Katie published on the web; however, you’ll be able to get the most input from her by following Katie on her Twitter account. 

6. Khoi Vinh 

Khoi Vinh is one of the most friendly and unique UX bloggers and influencers on the market today. He knows how to talk to people in a way that’s interesting and engaging – even about more complicated topics in UX design. Vinh is a principle designer at Adobe, and he has his own podcast called Wireframe. However, he still finds time to keep his followers engaged on Twitter. 

Over the years, Khoi has worked as a Design Director for Etsy and the New York Times. Vinh also wrote a book called “Ordering Disorder” which examines grid principles in web design. According to Fast Company, he’s one of the most influential designers in America. Additionally, Khoi has a brilliant blog where you can check out all of his latest insights into UX design. 

7. Cory Lebson

Cory Lebson is a veteran in the world of web design and user experience. With more than 2 decades of experience in the landscape, Cory has his own dedicated UX consulting firm named Lebsontech. Lebson and his company concentrate on offering UX training, mentoring, and user experience strategy support to customers. Cory also regularly speaks on topics regarding UX career development, user experience, information architecture and more. 

Cory is an excellent influencer to follow on Twitter, where you’ll find him sharing various UX tricks and tips. You can also check out Cory’s handbook on UX careers, or find him publishing content on the Lebsontech blog too. 

8. Lizzie Dyson

Another amazing woman in the industry of UX, Lizzie Dyson is changing the experience landscape as we know it. Although she’s a relatively new figure in the web design world, she’s recognized world-wide for her amazing insights into the world of web development. Lizzie also helped to create a new group specifically for women that want to get involved in web design. 

The Ladies that UX monthly meet-up welcomes a community of women into the digital landscape, helping them to learn and expand their skills. Lizzie regularly publishes content online as part of Ladies that UX. Additionally, she appears on the Talk UX feed – an annual design and tech conference held for women around the world. 

9. Chris Messina 

Chris Messina is a product designer and a technical master who understands what it takes to avoid disappointing your users. With more than a decade of experience in the UX design landscape, Messina has worked for a variety of big-name brands, including Google and Uber. He is best known as the inventor of the hashtag!

Chris is a highly skilled individual who understands the unique elements that engage customers and keep people coming back for more on a website. You can see Chris speaking at a selection of leading conferences around the world. Check out some of his talks on YouTube or track down his schedule of upcoming talks here. Chris also has a variety of fantastic articles on Medium to read too. 

10. Elizabeth Churchill

Last, but definitely not least, Elizabeth Churchill is a UX leader with an outstanding background in psychology, research science, psychology, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, human interaction with computers and more. She knows her way around everything from cognitive economics, to everyday web design. Churchill also acts as the director of UX for Google Material Design. 

A powerhouse of innovation and information, Churchill has more than 50 patents to her name. She’s also the vice president of the Association for Computing Machinery too. When she’s not sharing information on Twitter, Elizabeth also has a regular column that you can tune into on the ACM Interactions magazine. 

Who Are You Following in 2020?

Whether you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, or information, the right influencers can deliver some excellent insights into the world of web design. There are plenty of thought leaders out there in the realm of user experience that can transform the way that you approach your client projects. You might even discover a new favourite podcast to listen to, or an amazing series of videos that help you to harness new talents. 

Influencers are more than just tools for digital marketing; they’re an excellent source of guidance for growing UX designers too.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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5 Tips for Designing One-Page Websites That Work

Smart design choices can help reduce the fatigue and frustration people would otherwise feel when using the web.

There are a lot of ways web designers can minimize distractions, information overload, and analysis paralysis. For instance, designing with abundant white space, shorter snippets of text, and calming color palettes all work.

One-page websites might be another design choice worth exploring.

When done right, a single-page website could be very useful in creating a simpler and more welcoming environment for today’s overwhelmed consumers.

With its diminutive structure, it would leave a unique and memorable impression on visitors. What’s more, a well-crafted one-page website would provide visitors with a clean, narrow, and logical pathway to conversion.

For those of you who use BeTheme’s pre-built sites (or are thinking about adopting them for your next site), there’s good news. In addition to the great selection of traditionally structured sites available, Be also has single-page websites for you to work with.

So, the technical aspects you’d need to master to get the one-page formula right are already taken care of.

Let’s have a look at some of the features that make single-page websites shine and how you can design them:

1. Give Visitors a Succinct Journey Through the Website and Brand’s Story

The typical business websites you design include pages like Home, About, and Contact, as well as pages that explain the company’s services or sell their products. Unless you’re building really long sales landing pages, there’s usually about 400 to 600 words on each page.

That’s still a lot of content for your visitors to get through and it can make perusing a single website an overwhelming experience. Imagine how they feel about reading through all that content when they have to do it multiple times when comparing other websites and options.

In some cases, this multi-page website structure is overkill. The information you’d otherwise fill a full page with can easily be edited down to fit a single pane or block on a one-page website and still be as useful.

Like how design and development studio Pixel Lab does it:

Pixel Lab

Notice how all the key points are hit in a concise and visually attractive manner:

  • The Featured Work portfolio
  • The About Us introduction
  • The FAQs
  • The contact form

The BeCV pre-built site is built in a similar manner (and for a similar purpose, too):

BeCV

Just remember to keep a sticky navigation bar present at all times so visitors know exactly how much content there is on the page.

2. Opt For a Non-Traditional Navigation for a Uniquely Memorable Experience

Typically, the rule is that website navigation should follow one of two patterns:

  • Logo on the left, navigation links on the right.
  • Logo on the left, hamburger menu storing the navigation on the right (for mobile or desktop).

There are a number of reasons why this layout is beneficial. Ultimately, it comes down to the predictability and comfort of having a navigation be right where visitors expect it, no matter where they end up on your website.

However, with a single-page website, this is one of those rules you can bend, so long as you have a way to keep the navigation ever-present and easy to use.

There are some great examples of one-page sites that have done this, usually opting for a stylized left-aligned sidebar that contains links to the various parts of the page. Purple Orange is just one of them:

Purple Orange

And you can use a Be pre-built site like BeHairdresser to create a similar navigation for your website:

BeHairdresser

If you’re trying to make a bold brand stand out, this is a neat layout option to experiment with.

3. Tell a More Visually Striking Story

One of the problems with building a website with WordPress is that you always have to worry about how your design decisions affect speed. Even once the code is optimized, images are usually the low-hanging fruit that have to be dealt with.

But when your website only contains one page, this means images aren’t as much of a problem (so long as you compress and resize them). It’s only when you continue to add pages, products, and galleries that you have to scale back your visual content.

So, if your brand has a strong visual identity and you want the website to show that off through images, a one-page website is a great place to do it.

Just remember to keep a good balance between text and images as Vodka A does:

Vodka A

There’s no reason for a liquor distribution company to mince words when the elegant product photos effectively communicate to consumers what it’s all about.

In fact, this image-heavy, single-page style would work well for any vendor selling a small inventory of products: food, beverages, subscription boxes, health and beauty products, etc. And you can use the pre-built BeBistro to carefully craft it:

BeBistro

4. Turn a Complex Business Idea or Offering into Something Simple to Understand

When a company sells a technical or complex solution to consumers, it can be a real struggle to explain what it does and why they should buy it.

But here’s the thing: Consumers don’t really care about all that technical stuff. Even if you were to explain how an app worked or how you use a software like Sketch or WordPress to design a website, their eyes would glaze over.

What matters most to them is that you have an effective and affordable solution that they can trust. So, why bog them down with page after page of technical specs and sales jargon?

A one-page website enables you to simplify even the most complex of solutions.

Take Critical TechWorks, for instance. It offers an advanced technological solution for the automobile industry…and, yet, this is all it needs to explain the technology at work:

Critical Techworks

If your website’s visitors are more concerned with the outcomes rather than the “how”, you’d do well to make the website and content as easy to digest as possible. And you can use a pre-built site like BeCourse to do that:

BeCourse

Notice how both of these sites take visitors through a small handful of sections (pages) before delivering them to the main attraction: the contact or sign-up form.

5. Capture Leads and Sales at Different Stages of the Sales Funnel

Some of your visitors will be brand new to the site and need more information before they pull the trigger. Others will already have a good idea of what they’re getting into and just need one small push to get them to take action.

With a single-page website, you can design each section to cater to the different kinds of leads and prospects that arrive there.

The top sections should be introductory in nature, providing new visitors with information they need to decide if this is an option worth pursuing. The sections further below should drill down into the remaining questions or concerns that interested prospects have.

Regardless of which section they’re looking at, your one-page site will have CTA buttons built in along the way that drive them to conversion the second they’re ready.

This will enable your site to always be prepared to convert leads, whether visitors read the first two sections or make their way through all of them until they reach the conversion point (e.g. a contact form, a checkout page, etc.).

You’ll find a nice example of this on the Cycle website, with CTAs strategically placed along the single-page’s design:

Cycle

BePersonalTrainer is a good pre-built site option if you want to ensure that you include a CTA button at the perfect stopping points throughout your page:

BePersonalTrainer

You won’t find them at the bottom of every section, but that’s okay. You just need them whenever your visitors are seriously thinking about taking action.

What Should You Build: A Multi-Page or One-Page Website?

Although a single-page website won’t work for larger websites (especially in ecommerce), it could work well for business websites that are on the smaller side to begin with.

By centralizing all of that information into a single page, you’ll create a fresh experience that wows visitors with how succinct yet powerful both the message and offering are.

Just be careful. Many single-page websites are poorly done (which is probably why they fell out of fashion for a while).

Remember: This is not your chance to throw web design rules out the window. In fact, this will be an opportunity to clear out the fluff and the clutter that’s accumulated over the years and to return to a more scaled-back and classic approach to design.

And with the help of Be’s pre-built one-page websites, it won’t require much work on your part to make that happen.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of BeTheme –]

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5 Best Free Courses and Resources to Level Up As a Web Designer

I often see freelancers on social media asking what the secret is to working fewer hours, making more money, and helping new clients to find them. While those things tend to happen the longer you’ve been freelancing, it doesn’t happen without some effort.

If you’re wondering how you can change things so that your business becomes more profitable and easier to manage, education is the key.

But it’s not just mastering new design techniques that will take you to the next level. It’s important to invest your time in a well-rounded education so that you can grow not just as a web designer, but also as a freelancer and business owner.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of cash on courses or resources. In the following round-up, I’m going to share some of the best free courses to help you level up.

5 Best Free Courses and Resources for Web Designers

Rather than sign up for Udemy, Skillshare and other premium course membership sites, I recommend taking a bootstrapping approach to self-education. I mean, the whole point in learning new skills and strengthening existing ones is so you can run a better business and make more money, right?

Once you have extra funds to throw at premium courses, definitely explore those options. For now, let’s focus on the free courses and resources that’ll help get you to that next level:

1. edX

edX was created by Harvard and MIT in order to provide university-level training and education to anyone, anywhere. While you can’t get certified without paying a few hundred dollars, you can go through entire courses for free.

Courses are offered over a wide range of categories. As a freelance web designer, you’d do well to focus on the following areas:

Design
Learn more than just how to design beautiful interfaces. Learn about the technical side of it, too — things like AI, IoT, and cybersecurity.

Computer Science
Learn web development and coding.

Business & Management
Learn essential business skills like:

  • Project management
  • Finance management
  • Leadership
  • Marketing and analysis

Communication
Learn things like branding, negotiation, reputation management, and critical thinking.

2. Envato Tuts+

Envato Tuts+ might be best known for its succinct step-by-step design and development tutorials. However, it has a new section of free video courses to take advantage of.

Although you won’t learn any soft skills here, this is a great resource if you want to master the tools of your trade.

Free courses give you a deeper look at tools like:

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Adobe’s suite of software
  • Sketch
  • WordPress
  • Video conferencing tools

3. YouTube

YouTube is more than just a place to watch entertaining videos. There are some amazing YouTube channels for web designers at all skill levels.

When choosing a design channel and course to follow, look for ones that are well organized. If they’re just posting videos at random without any rhyme or reason, it’ll be difficult to focus on and master one skill set before moving onto the next.

Here are the channels I recommend you follow:

Flux

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Getting started as a freelancer
  • Strengthening your processes
  • Building your portfolio
  • Design theory and strategy

CharliMarieTV

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Building sites with Figma or Webflow
  • Career paths for designers
  • Productivity hacks

NNgroup

Learn skills related to UX:

  • Web design
  • User psychology
  • Usability testing
  • Design thinking
  • Research and data analysis
  • Journey mapping
  • Get access to UX Conference seminars, too

4. Moz Whiteboard Fridays

Even if you don’t offer SEO as a standalone service, it’s important for web designers to understand the role they play in SEO and to stay abreast of the latest and greatest strategies.

If you haven’t tuned in for one of Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays yet, I’d recommend you start now.

Some of the topics might not be relevant to you (like creating a content strategy). However, there are others you’ll get some great tips from, like the one above that talks about creating great visuals, preparing web pages with tags and schema markup, and optimizing for featured snippets.

5. Nir Eyal – Indistractible

Nir Eyal has made a name for himself over the years as an author and presenter on the subject of human psychology and behavior. His first book (Hooked) examined consumer behavior and how to design around it. His second (Indistractible) turned the focus on us — the doers and creators who build experiences and products for consumers.

The first of his free resources to explore is this 30-minute presentation on why we’re so easily distracted and how to keep those distractions (and ourselves) from getting in the way.

The second free resource to snag up is the 80-page workbook available on the homepage. Here’s a preview of what it looks like:

You’ll learn about common distractions, identify those that are specific to you, and then work through exercises to defeat them.

If this is something you’re struggling with, these resources will empower you to make a much-needed change.

BONUS: WebDesigner Depot

Although WebDesigner Depot doesn’t offer video courses, I consider each of the articles contained within this site to be mini-courses of their own. And you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about becoming a web designer and growing your freelance business.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Popular Design News of the Week: August 24, 2020 – August 30, 2020

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers.

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

How to Make Halftone Gradient in Photoshop

 

Drawing Simple Line Patterns Using HTML5 Canvas

 

10 Online Design Tools You Never Knew You Needed

 

4 Best Content Management Systems (CMS) for Marketing

 

9 Mistakes Designers Still Make

 

6 Visual Design Principles that UX Designers Should Be Aware of

 

Best Way to Lazy Load Images for Maximum Performance

 

17 Stunning Examples of Sites with Horizontal Scrolling

 

Less is a Bore. Why Tech is Finally Embracing Maximalism

 

What Does it Mean to Have a High-Quality Website in 2020?

 

8 Project Management Tips for your Next Web Development Project

 

MergeURL – Shorten Urls for Free Without User Registration

 

13 Design Challenges to Improve and Showcase your Skills

 

How to Find Web Design Clients

 

Waitlist API – Quick and Easy Waitlist with Built in Referral

 

What is the Small Web?

 

24 Beautifully Designed Pricing Page Examples

 

7 Practical Tips for Better Microcopy

 

15 Awesome Developer Home Workstations

 

Pentagram Designs “edgier” Visual Identity for Rolls-Royce

 

Gorgeous Gradients: A Curated Collection of Dreamy Color Transitions

 

Experts Weigh in on the Biden-Harris Logo

 

50+ Modern Fonts to Use on your WordPress Website in 2020

 

15 Florist Websites that will Inspire Every Flower Lover

 

Create your First React Native Android App

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Popular Design News of the Week: July 27, 2020 – August 2, 2020

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers.

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Stroke Text CSS: The Definitive Guide

 

Code Snippets for Easier Coding

 

Textdb – A Simple Way to Share Small Amounts of Data

 

10+ Favicon Generators to Make your Brand Stand Out

 

12 CSS Grid Layouts

 

Applying Disney’s Basic Principles of Animation to UI Design

 

Curiosity Creates

 

Previewed – Beautiful Mockups & Graphics for your Next App

 

We’re in a Golden Age of UX. Why is Video Chat Still Stuck in the ’90s?

 

18+ CSS Book Effect

 

How to Promote a Mobile App with an Animated Explainer Video

 

Hyperlog – Portfolios for Developers

 

Site Design: Looks like You Need to Let it Out

 

Doing Stupid Stuff with GitHub Actions

 

Is it Good Design? Well, Yeah.

 

15 Free Adobe XD UI Kits for Web and Mobile App Designers

 

The Office as You Know it is Gone

 

How Interactive Content will Increase your Visitor’s Time on Page

 

What do Web Design Clients Need from Designers?

 

Truthmark is a Photography Database Aiming to Stop Misuse in Fake News

 

200+ NoCode Tool List by WeLoveNoCode

 

Designing for ‘Why?’

 

10 Tips Before You Buy a Domain Name

 

Making Memories to Last (August 2020 Wallpapers Edition)

 

Design Constraints are not Restraints – They Stoke Creativity

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Case Study: 8 Design Tips That Increased My Ecommerce Conversions By 42% 

When it comes to increasing sales for your ecommerce store, there are 3 levers you can pull: You can increase your average order value; You can increase the amount of traffic to your site; You can increase your conversion rate.

While all of the above are important, the cheapest, most effective way to grow your sales is by improving your conversion rate.

For most online stores, low conversion rates are typically the result of a poor design or a bad user experience. Your visitors may not resonate with the look and feel of your website or they may have problems finding the information they need in order to make a purchase.

In this post, I will walk you through the exact steps I took to increase my desktop conversion rate by 46% and my mobile conversion rate by 39% with my last site redesign. I will also show you how you can apply these same design principles to optimize the conversion rate for your own online store.

Even if your ecommerce business is already performing well, this post will help you achieve even better results.

What Is Considered A Good Ecommerce Conversion Rate? 

Monitoring your conversion rate is crucial to building a profitable ecommerce business. And most analytics tools can help you measure this data out of the box.

Your conversion rate is calculated by simply dividing the number of desired actions by the number of website visitors in a given period. For example, if your website is getting 50 conversions for every 5,000 visitors, your conversion rate is 1%.

Depending on the specific type of online business you run, your conversions may include online sales, email signups, add to carts, or any other KPI you wish to measure. But in the case of an ecommerce store, your primary focus should be your purchase conversion rate.

On average, ecommerce stores have a purchase conversion rate of 1% – 2%. What’s more, experts say a good conversion rate is anywhere from 2% to 5%. This should be your baseline as you measure your online store’s success.

The Conversion Results of My Last Site Redesign

Before we dive into the nitty gritty details of how I improved my conversion rate, here are my overall results and exactly how I conducted my experiment.

First off, I run Bumblebee Linens, an ecommerce store that sells handkerchiefs online.

Because my site gets a ton of traffic from content pages that do not directly convert to sales, I measured my conversion rate based on my most predictable traffic sources.

As a result, all of my conversion data was taken from targeted PPC ad traffic sources like Google Shopping and Google Adwords. After all, my Google ads traffic is very steady and always converts at a consistent percentage.

Before I redesigned my site, the conversion rate for my ecommerce store hovered at around 3% which is above average. But the look and feel of the site was dated and desperately needed a refresh. Overall, the entire redesign took approximately 7 weeks and cost me roughly $1840.

Here are the conversion results from my updated design compared to the original:

  • Desktop conversion rates increased by 46%
  • Mobile conversion rates increased by 26% 
  • Tablet conversion rates increased by 32% 

The remainder of this post will highlight the specific elements of the redesign that contributed to these increases. (Note: I made all of my redesign changes live simultaneously so it’s difficult to determine which specific optimization contributed the most gains.)

8 Ecommerce Design Tips To Optimize Your Conversion Rate

If your ecommerce store is not performing as well as it should, there are many aspects of the user experience that could be negatively impacting sales. Even a seemingly innocuous design choice like your font size or the color of your buttons can have a significant impact on your overall conversion rate.

If you want to systematically improve the conversion rate for your ecommerce store, you should follow these 8 design steps.

1. Use A Consistent and Complementary Color Scheme 

Use color.adobe.com to choose complementary colors when redesigning your website.

A well chosen color scheme can instantly attract a customer’s attention, evoke emotion, and drive users to take action. After all, how a customer feels about your website can be the deciding factor between completing checkout or bouncing from your shop.

A well designed ecommerce store should utilize at least 3 complementary colors that are consistently applied across every page of your website.

If you don’t have a good eye for color, you can use a free tool like color.adobe.com which will help you mix and match different colors that go well together.

For my site redesign, I wanted a modern feel so I chose teal, hot pink, and yellow for my color palette.

I also assigned each color a specific purpose on my site:

  • Teal was applied to give the site a bright, overall color for a young and hip feel;
  • Yellow was used to draw attention to marketing elements like free shipping and special offers;
  • Hot Pink was used for all action buttons on the site.

Overall, every single page of your ecommerce store should have 1 main call to action (using a bright color like hot pink) that guides a customer closer towards checkout.

For example on my front page, the hot pink button “Shop Our Personalized Collection” pops out of the page and catches a user’s attention right away. We want visitors to shop our personalized collection because our personalized products are the highest margin products in our store.

2. Simplify Your Navigation 

Is your menu too complicated? Is your navbar taking up too much screen real estate?

A good rule of thumb for an ecommerce store is to minimize the number of clicks for a customer to add to cart. As a result, you should avoid nesting your product categories in more than 1 level of hierarchy.

If you have too many categories in your shop to display all at once, choose your best selling categories for your main menu and lump your less trafficked categories in a separate tab.

For my store, I decided to use a top-level, hover style drop-down menu as shown in the photo below.

Top-level navigation is one way to organize and display your product categories.

My old design utilized left hand style navigation which took up too much screen real estate. And freeing up the extra space allowed me to blow up my category and product images by 300%. With my new navigation menu, every visitor can add to cart in just three clicks: One click to find a product category; One click to view the product description; One click to add to cart.

Once you’ve designed your menu, pretend that you are a customer and try to shop on your site. Is the content easy to read? Do the important elements pop out? Can you find the information you need right away? Analyzing your site from a customer’s perspective will help you improve your users’ shopping experience.

3. Display Trust Factors On Every Page 

Free shipping, easy returns, and trust are crucial to driving conversions. 

Trust is the most important value you must establish with your customer.

Unless you’re Amazon or a big box store, people have likely never heard of your brand and you have to reassure them that it’s safe to buy from your store.

Due to Amazon’s influence in the ecommerce space, most customers look for 3 things when shopping at an online boutique for the first time:

  • Fast and free shipping;
  • Easy returns;
  • A way to reach customer support.

Displaying your phone number and email address is very important! Adding your store hours also helps to make your site look legit to new visitors. If you don’t have a recognizable brand, customers will want to know that they can reach a real human in case of problems or questions.

In the above image, you’ll notice that I placed my trust factors in the header, so they can be seen above the fold on every single page. We’ve also been featured on the Today show and a bunch of magazines. So I made sure to display this social proof on the bottom of every page.

Don’t hesitate to flaunt your achievements to reinforce trust. 

In addition, customer testimonials provide social proof and credibility to your website. As a result, it’s important to regularly reach out to happy customers for testimonials and endorsements. On our redesigned site, you’ll find the testimonials section right below our press mentions.

Testimonials lend social proof and credibility to your website.

Remember, to generate conversions as an unknown store or brand, you first have to gain your customers’ trust. Make it easy for them to contact you or get a full refund if anything goes wrong with their purchase. By showing a genuine concern for customer satisfaction, you’ll be able to build a solid reputation over time.

4. Emphasize Your Unique Value Proposition

Users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at your website’s written content. And in those 5.59 seconds, you must capture their interest or else they’ll bounce from your page. Right off the bat, you must convey to a user exactly what you sell and why they should buy from your store over a competitor.

What’s more, every single page on your site should communicate your unique value proposition. A unique value proposition is a concise statement that describes what makes your business special and outlines what your store does better than anyone else. The best way to show off your unique value proposition is to use an eye-catching image alongside compelling copy.

For example, here’s the first thing a user sees on my home page above the fold:

Right away, a user is shown a large image of one of our best selling personalized handkerchiefs. And right beside that image is a clear and concise value proposition, followed by a call to action to shop in our store.

Displaying your value proposition should not be limited to your home page. We also include our unique value proposition on every category page as well. Overall, you should include your value proposition on every landing page on your website.

5. Optimize The Visual Hierarchy Of Your Product Pages 

Every page on your site should have a single objective. And for your product pages, your goal is to get a customer to add to cart.

When designing a product page, you must apply a logical visual hierarchy to your design. A visual hierarchy is the order in which a user processes information on a page and in the case of a product page, there must be a clear path to your add to cart button with as few distractions as possible.

Here’s a screenshot of my old product page:

As you can see, my old product page is overwhelming. All of the design elements try to grab your attention at the same time and there are many different calls to action that blend together. To improve my product descriptions, I freshened up the color scheme and enlarged my product image by 266%. I also changed the placement of the buttons in a more logical flow.

Here’s what the redesigned product page looks like today:

By adjusting the size, color, contrast, and alignment of the page elements, I now force the customer to process my product information in a set path that leads directly to my primary call to action. For example, the hot pink color draws attention to the “Add to Cart” button over the “Reviews” button. Also, by applying a blue text color and teal background, I reassure customers that shopping with us is safe and risk free.

Overall, rearranging the design elements this way nearly doubled my add to cart percentage.

6. Simplify Your Checkout Process 

With our old site design, we would regularly receive feedback from confused customers who weren’t sure if they needed an account to purchase our products.

Here’s what our old checkout page looked like:

As you can see, there are too many choices. After all, a customer doesn’t need 3 ways to checkout and the choices are a little overwhelming.

Here’s what the checkout page looks like now:

Instead of offering 3 separate options for checkout, I consolidated them all into one and added a separate Paypal option (more on this later). First off, less than 6% of customers create an account so there was no reason to offer account creation as a separate option. Furthermore, displaying a login form was causing more headaches than it was worth because the majority of customers don’t even have an account. As a result, I decided to hide the form altogether by default.

Overall, when you are designing your checkout process, keep these optimization principles in mind.

Principle #1: Remove all unnecessary elements from the page. Don’t make the customer think and hide all elements that are not frequently used.

Principle #2: Display trust logos to assure customers of a secure checkout. In the image above, you’ll find trust logos on the right-hand side of the checkout page.

7. Optimize The Checkout Process For Mobile Users

4 out of 10 mobile users abandon their carts if they have a hard time entering their personal information. People don’t like entering their contact and credit card information using a tiny keyboard. What’s more, small buttons and too many form fields drive away mobile users. 79% of smartphone users shop online with their mobile devices, which is why you should optimize for mobile.

These days, a responsive design is par for the course but you can still screw things up if you are not careful. Here’s what my checkout process looks like on a desktop:

And here’s how the checkout page looks on a mobile device:

On mobile, the user’s cart contents are collapsed so it doesn’t occupy the entire screen. Overall, here were the mobile optimizations I made to checkout:

Optimization #1: Keep Your Checkout Form Short And Sweet

A mobile user should be able to tap buttons on your checkout page without accidentally hitting another option. Also, the buttons should be large enough to tap on a mobile device.

Given the smaller screen size of a mobile phone, keep your checkout form short and sweet with no extraneous options. Also, make sure you turn off autocorrect for your form fields. Otherwise, your phone’s autocorrect feature may frustrate users when they try to enter their address. In fact, we once had a customer get so frustrated trying to type in their city on their iPhone that they called us up and complained in frustration.

To fix this, you simply need to add the following tag to all of your text input fields.

<input type="text" name="name" autocorrect="off">

And to reduce frustration, you should also turn off auto-capitalization and auto-complete by adding auto-capitalization=”off” and auto-complete=”off” to all of your forms as well:

<input type="text" name="name" autocorrect="off" auto-capitalization="off" auto-complete="off">

In addition, for phone number entry, you should always display a numeric keypad as opposed to a regular keyboard:

Optimization #2: Automatically Import Your Customer Data If Possible

The less information mobile users have to enter in, the better. Payment options like Paypal Express and Amazon Payments can simplify the checkout process. These third-party payment processors automatically fill out a customer’s billing and shipping information which reduces typing and increases conversion rates.

To offer a more convenient checkout, I implemented PayPal One Touch, which alone increased my mobile conversion rates by 31%.

Here’s a quick tip when implementing Paypal: Make sure you display the Paypal button early in the checkout process before a user has entered in their information. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of importing their information! In the first step of my checkout process, I explain each payment option in depth.

These simple changes made a huge difference in my conversion rate. And the number of PayPal users on my site nearly doubled from 13% to 23%!

8. Add A Sense Of Urgency

Most customers like to window shop and the best way to get a visitor to take action is to create a sense of urgency.

Whenever I run a sale, a big yellow countdown timer is displayed on every page of the website.

Note: It’s important to note that we only utilize this timer when there is actually a sale going on. Otherwise, you risk desensitizing your customers or losing trust.

In addition, I also display a countdown timer on the checkout page to create a sense of urgency to complete the payment process:

These extra design elements force a customer to take action sooner rather than later.

Final thoughts

Optimizing your conversion rate is an ongoing process. And testing your results is the only way to track your improvement.

Never go with your gut and always listen to the data. After all, sometimes an ugly site can out-convert a beautiful one.

Regardless, the design tips I demonstrated above will give you a solid foundation to start with. From there, you can further improve your website and optimize your conversion rate through repeated testing and tweaks. Good luck!

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Show Them Your Assets – Tips for Handing Off Designs to Developers

You’ve been working away at your latest design project, and the client has given the go-ahead on your lovingly created digital concepts. Now it’s time to bring those designs to life, and you have a developer queued up to do just that.

So your part’s done, right? Not quite. You’re going to want to make sure your developer has the best head start they can in order to create the site as you imagined.

Below are a few tips to make that handover process a little easier.

Communicate to Make It Great

Get Talking

Scheduling a face-to-face meeting with your developer to talk over your project’s specifics and ambitions will help align your expectations and make the intent behind your concepts more clear. It’s quite likely they’ll even ask questions and request assets you haven’t even thought of yet!

It’s not just a one-and-done thing either, your developer’s going to have questions or requirements that arise as the project progresses. Deciding on a communication channel to allow easy discussion will help you both immensely.

Annotating Your Concepts

Developers might seem like magicians with the way they bring your websites to life, but they’re not clairvoyant! Annotating your concepts where advanced functionality is required reduces ambiguity and makes it more likely that your cool, quirky idea is going to make it to production. If it’s a feature that’s particularly unusual, you might want to find an example of a website or code sandbox that does something similar.

An example of Figma’s comment tool in use to make developer notes.

Figma and Sketch both have comment functionality in order to make annotations a little easier, also allowing multiple parties to comment. If dealing with PDFs, there is also an annotation tool available through Adobe Acrobat.

Specify the Basics

The basis of modern front end development revolves around DRY thinking. Some might argue thinking about code can be pretty dry, but we’re not talking about that – in this case, DRY stands for Don’t Repeat Yourself.  Most developers will tackle a project by starting with defining variables: what colors, font sizes, grid columns… anything that can be reused! Good, consistent design follows this same principle – although it’s a habit that can be hard to get going at first.

Tip: It’s always easier to define variables if this mentality is approached towards the start of the project!  

Colors

Make a style guide that specifies the colors you’ve used in your designs. Think about their logical applications to help signpost how they might work as a variable – for example, what colors did you use for paragraph text, hyperlinks and backgrounds? Did you consider colors to convey status messaging, such as successes, warnings and errors?

Typefaces

Which fonts have you used for your project? Is there a consistent set of font sizes you used throughout? If you haven’t already, maybe consider a ratio-based type scale – I like to use ModularScale to help with this.

Basic HTML Elements

Think about general styling for these basic html tags:

  • Paragraphs <p>
  • Headings <h1–h6>
  • Bullet lists <ul> and numbered lists <ol>
  • Emphasized text <b>, <strong> and <em>

Buttons

How about buttons and links? What should they do when they’re hovered over, focused (using the tab key on a keyboard) or disabled?

Forms Fields and Inputs

What should form fields look like? Is there any validation checking that should occur when a form is submitted?  How about checkboxes and radio buttons?

It’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to cover absolutely every single eventuality – allow your developer to use some common sense to fill in the gaps, and be available to them if they have any questions. In the words of John Maxwell and your aunt’s home office wall sticker, teamwork makes the dream work.

Get Your Favic-on

Favicons are widely recognized as the small icon that appears to the left of the site title on your browser’s tab bar. Nowadays, the application of your site’s favicon is much further reaching, showing up in Google search results and app tiles. There’s also extra theming options available, such as the ability to customize the color of Google Chrome Android’s browser bar color for your site.

Using a generator site such as realfavicongenerator takes the pain out of much of this decision-making, allowing you to upload specific graphics as desired, creating silhouettes of your icon for Windows Metro tiles and macOS Safari pins, and packaging everything into easy-to-use files and code.

 Compress Your Images

Nobody wants to load a 20MB image when they’re on a slow connection or a data plan – it pays dividends to plan ahead and downsize your images so that they’re production-ready for the web. If you’re worried image compression is going to harm your image quality, fear not – you can go a long way with image compression before quality is seriously compromised.

  1. Start by reducing the image resolution – for batch jobs, I use Adobe Photoshop’s image processor script to downsize images to fit 1920 x 1200 pixels
  2. Alternatively, if you’re working on a static project – where specific images will be used only in specific places – you could use your design software (nearly all mainstream UI software allows you to do this now) to export your images at 2x size to support devices with high pixel densities.
  3. I also convert my image color profiles to SRGB to ensure consistency across most modern display types (this one’s optional)
  4. I then take my newly downsized images and run them through imageOptim at 80% quality. Generally I would aim to get my images under 300kb – if there are any that are still significantly over this target once compressed, I’d run these through again at 70% quality (I wouldn’t recommend going lower than this, though).

Don’t forget you can also do this for PNGs! Enabling PNGCrush in imageOptim will let you significantly reduce the size of PNGs… just be ready for it to take a while.

Make Your Vectors SVG-Easy to Use

If your design contains graphics or illustrations you created using vector software, it can be used on the web as an SVG file. Usually, these files will be a lot smaller than JPGs or PNGs. You can export graphics in most (if not all) vector software in this format.

Optionally, you could use imageOptim or SVGOMG to compress the SVG code without sacrificing quality. Your developer might already use a script that does this automatically when processing the site for production, so it may be worth asking ahead.

Get Your Licenses in Check

If you’re using premium fonts, make sure you’ve purchased a webfont license so you can hand over the correct files to the developer. I’d recommend doing this sooner rather than later – although not often, occasionally web versions of fonts can have slightly different bounding boxes to their desktop counterparts, making it a real pain for developers to work with further down the line.

If you’ve been using samples of stock photos (or if you’ve been going crazy lifting whatever you can find on Google Images), make sure everything is kosher before you go live. Make sure you purchase licensed photos, and if certain photos you want to use require attribution, make the developer aware of this.

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