Web Design Trends for 2014

I recently presented this talk at Internet Librarian 2014, and wanted to share it here too! If you want to see some really good notes from my presentation, check out Sarah Houghton’s post (thanks, Sarah!).

I did some research via Google on web design trends for 2014, took the trends that reappeared a bunch, and … here they are: 15 Web design trends in 6 loose categories:

Category 1 – Mobile:

1. Mobile-first design. Start designing on the small screen, then widen out to tablets and desktops. If you can’t do it on a mobile device, you probably don’t need it on your “big” website, either.

2. Responsive. Use a responsive or adaptive design, so your website works great on all screen sizes.

Category 2 – Designy Things:

3.Simplicity. Many web designs are going for a more minimalistic, simplified look. Make sure the design doesn’t get in the way of, or overpower, your great content.

4. White Space. Goes along with simplicity. White space can help emphasize content. Use it just like they do it magazines.

5. No Flash. Websites are still working on moving away from Flash and towards more modern design languages like HTML5 and CSS3.

Category 3 – Visual:

6. Parallax. Parallax design is a way to provide design depth and almost a 3D look to your website. IT reminds me of layers in Photoshop … just done on websites.

7. Flat Design. Sorta funny. Flat design and parallax design are almost opposites (but not quite). Flat design focuses on clean design and good use of color and whitespace. Think the new iOS design, and you’ll get the idea.

8. Blocking. Blocks of content – think Pinterest. I think it works great on sites like Pinterest or Flickr, where there’s a ton of content and the content is all on equal footing. On library websites like New York Public Library’s main page? Not so much. I’d guess their content is NOT equal in terms of importance, and the bottom of the page looks like an afterthought, like they forgot to “finish” the website.

9. Big Images. Use of large images on websites is a trend at the moment – even having a large image in the background of a website.

10. Colors. Using colors is big, apparently. Depending on what “hot web trends for 2014” you read, you’ll get a variety of answers as to what colors are trending – subtle and calm colors, retro colors, even neon colors! But know that web design is “colorful” these days. So think about using a tool like Adobe Kuler to help choose popular colors for a website. Or just go to Home Depot and get some matching paint swatches, and use those as a color base for your website.

Category 4 – Typography:

11. Web Fonts. We’re no longer limited to a couple of web-safe fonts. Think about using new web fonts like Google Fonts or Typekit.

Category 5 – Content:

12. Video. Video is still growing in importance.  A recent Pew report on online video says that 78% of online adults now watch or download video content. It’s an easy way to provide viewable content on your website.

13. Social Media. Social media integration is important for all types of websites and organizations. It’s a great way to share content out to customers in all the online “places” they hang out at.

Category 6 – Navigation:

14. Large Buttons. Websites are starting to use large, easily seen buttons. Make them big and bold!

15. Vertical Scrolling. Think about using “sticky” navigation that glues itself to the top of the page, or social media sharing plugins that glue themselves to the side of a page.

There you go! 15 web design trends for 2014. Are you redesigning your website? We are! Please share your new design ideas!

15 Web Design Trends for 2013

Here’s one of my presentations for Computers in Libraries 2013 – great conference! I’m posting this one separately, since there’s some good stuff here. I poked around in Google, and condensed a lot of “web design predictions” posts into this handy list of 15 web design trends for 2013. Which ones are you thinking about?

  1. Content first
  2. Design simplicity
  3. UX Centered Design
  4. App style interfaces
  5. Responsive design
  6. No skeuomorphism
  7. coding languages (as in HTML/CSS/Javascript)
  8. Fixed header bars
  9. Large photo backgrounds
  10. CSS Transparency
  11. Social media badges
  12. Infinite scrolling
  13. Homepage feature tours
  14. Sliding panels
  15. Parallax design

Enjoy! I’ll post links to my other CIL 2013 presentations in another post.

Four Mobile Options for Libraries

I just read Your 4 Mobile Options by Paul Boag. Good stuff! In the article, Paul suggests that there are basically four options when it comes to having a mobile presence (taken from Paul’s article – you should go read the whole thing!):

  1. Responsive website: A responsive website is one that adapts to whatever device it is being viewed on. Whether that is a desktop computer, tablet or mobile device, the same website will display the same content using a visual design most suited to that device.
  2. Native application: Native apps are applications that run physically on the mobile device and are coded specifically for the operating system of that device. These are the applications you typically find in either the Google Play or iOS App Store.
  3. Web application: A web application shares characteristics with both a native application and a responsive website. As with a responsive website a web application is built using HTML, CSS and Javascript and lives entirely online.
  4. Hybrid application: A hybrid application is essentially a native application built with HTML, CSS and Javascript. By building it with web technology it is quicker to develop and easier to publish to multiple platforms (e.g. iOS or Android). The downsides are that performance tends not to be as good and they lack the design style of each platform.

Which one of these options should libraries use? Paul says this as a general rule of thumb: “A good starting point is to ask whether users are primarily completing a task or accessing information.”

I’d agree – that’s a good starting point. I’d go a bit farther, and say this – figure out what your mobile users are doing, and how they do it, and more importantly – WHAT they want to do. Then figure out the right flavor of mobile accessibility that best meets those needs. Also, figure out what you can do. For example, when my library was still on Horizon for our library catalog, we chose Boopsie because they could create a mobile version of our catalog (something our vendor hadn’t yet figured out). So we went with an app-driven mobile catalog.

We’re on Polaris now, and it comes with a web-based catalog that works great. Will we stay with our Boopsie app? Not necessarily, since the mobile version of Polaris works well. More on that later this year!

One other thing – if you haven’t yet started to think about the mobile web … why not? Pick something – anything – and start. Your smartphone-loving public is waiting!

Pic of Paul Boag from boagworld.com

Find & Fix your Potholes

potholesDoes your website, your library, or your new service have “potholes?”

Here’s what I mean by potholes – on your website, if the navigation is unclear, or if that “what do I do next” thing doesn’t make sense, you have caused a customer to stumble. You have effectively placed a pothole in your customer’s path, making it harder for them to navigate towards whatever it is they wanted to do.

Not a good thing!

A physical library building can do that, too. Poor (or non-existing) signage in a building can make people stumble. Arranging your book collection in a “made sense at the time” way can cause people to stumble.

If a new library service is confusing, has too many rules and policies surrounding it, or if information about the new service is hard to find on the website – again, these things make our library customers stumble.

A great way to increase usability – and hopefully satisfaction for our customers – is to find and fix those potholes. How do you do that? Here are some suggestions:

  • do some usability testing for the website.
  • ask customers if they can easily find things in your building.
  • keep track of frequent questions at the reference desk (i.e., those “where’s the bathroom” questions could mean that you have a new customer, or it could mean your signage stinks. Or both).
  • Create a “No” list – keep track of every time staff have to say “no” to customers. Then see if those “no” answers can be turned into “yes” answers with some policy tweaking, etc.

Then fix those potholes, so your customers don’t stumble.

What makes your customers stumble?

Pothole pic by Andy Wilson