The exact meaning of “designing a website” has evolved considerably in the past few years.
Nowadays, very few people design sites “from scratch.” People don’t tend to sit and write raw HTML code, and not many even use PhotoShop and / or Dreamweaver to put together a structural design. Content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, with their database-driven structures and template-based front-ends have gained in popularity, and there are few Web projects that can’t be made to work competently using one of these platforms.
If you’re currently considering what platform to use to build your website, a perfect place to start is our article on the 5 best ways to build a site in 2014. If you wish to check it out now, the link will open in a new window or tab so you can return here easily when you’re done.
Let’s assume you’ve decided on the method you’re going to use to build your site. For the remainder of this article, we will concentrate on how to design a website that’s fit for 2014. People have come to expect certain things from modern websites, so it’s important to fulfil their expectations.
Consider the following:
1. Your site should be responsive
In the context of Web design, “responsive” means that your site will adapt cleanly to the device it’s displayed on. A responsive site detects the dimensions of the device it is running on and resizes accordingly.
With over 20% of Web browsing now taking place on mobile devices, a site that looks wrong on a smartphone or tablet runs the risk of alienating 20% of your readers or potential client base.
Another thing to look for when choosing a theme or template for your site is the phrase “retina ready.” This means it will support high resolution images on suitable tablets or monitors.
2. You should include social sharing functionality
The growing popularity of social networks shows no sign of slowing, so you must take this into account when you design your site.
Thankfully this is made very easy on most modern platforms, including everything from WordPress to Wix and Weebly. All you typically need to do is activate some social sharing buttons and incorporate them throughout your site.
Obviously, you should also ensure you maintain a presence on a selection of social networks, and keep your customers engaged and interested on these platforms.
3. Content really is king
Static websites are all but dead. If you build an old-fashioned “brochure” website, it’s more than likely that the only people who ever see it will be those to whom you directly provide the site URL.
This is why a constant flow of new content is required to keep your site fresh. More content means more user engagement, more social sharing, and (hopefully) higher rankings from the search engines.
4. Large images are “on trend”
Obviously there’s nothing to say that you have to follow all the latest design trends, but bold central images are definitely proving popular with websites of all kinds. Just take a look at apple.com to see what we mean.
Luckily, the Web creation companies and CMS theme authors have responded to this trend, and large image sliders designed for maximum impact are easy to incorporate and configure.
5. Incorporate a blog
The thought of incorporating a blog takes us back to our earlier comment about content being king.
Adding a blog (and religiously posting to it) is a great way to keep that content flowing, and every article you add gives Google (and others) another reason to index your site. If you don’t want to write the content yourself, you can always find a freelancer to do it for you.
Image source: threebrackets.com