Do you remember the left side vertical navigation that was so prolific in web design in the late 90’s? Thinking back on those early web design layouts is like picturing teased hair or shoulder pads. Weather it be a website layout, brochure design, or hairstyle, all design trends are sparked by a single look that is so irresistible that everyone must have it.
Today website User Interface Design (UI) is driven by two primary influences. The first is WordPress, and other themed layouts like Squarespace and Wix. The wide scrolling layout started with WordPress templates, and is now the standard in UI design. At the moment, if you’re not using this web design layout you run the risk of appearing dated.
The second major factor to influence UI is responsive design. This component of web design can be compared to the automotive industry. The reason that cars all look the same these days is because they must meet strict fuel efficiency standards. As a result the designs must be aerodynamic to create less drag. Windshields, are tilted low, the back ends are higher up, angles are smooth, etc. Similarly, responsive website design requires specific design styles so that the elements of the site can fold up properly for viewing on tablets or smartphones.
Overall WordPress and Squarespace have had a positive impact on web design. Templates make it easier for small businesses to afford new sites, and allow graphic designers with some coding knowledge to customize layouts with some ease. And the layouts look really good. There are some issues, however. Many of the scrolling page sites have a limited numbers of pages, and some just use the one page approach. This can affect SEO. Google doesn’t ding you for not having enough pages, the issue is that the more pages you have, the higher the chance you’ll have more keywords and links on those pages.
Another issue of the scrolling layout is navigation. Some businesses handle navigation well, even on long scrolls, others don’t. If the scroll is too long you take the chance that the viewer is not going to scroll all the way down. Viewers could be missing potentially critical messaging in this case. In other cases there are not proper calls to action or buttons that can help push you to other relevant portions of the website. When you get down to the bottom of a long scrolling site it’s a pain to scroll all the way back up. You’re asking the viewer to do work in this case.
Website design, like any digital or traditional marketing initiative, should be a work in progress. Use Google analytics and website monitoring tools to help provide a clear picture of how people are interacting and using your website. Then make adjustments based on what you’ve learned.