Web Design Tips to Power Up Your Contact Forms

As the Rake Mark Web Design Tips series continues so do the web design blogs that expand on the web design tweets and help to fill in any gaps that 140 characters via the Rake Mark Twitter Feed doesn’t allow.

These five web design tips tweets were aimed at helping website owners and website designers make the most out of their contact forms, so this is a shorter web design blog article but all regarding powering up your contact forms specifically.

Holding Personal Data? You Need a Website Privacy Policy

Web Design Tip 29: If you are going to ask for personal information via a sign up or contact form, then you need a privacy policy

Since I’m a web developer in Staffordshire and not a legal expert I can’t advise on the specifics of a website privacy policy. I can tell you that there are widely available boilerplate website privacy policy documents where you can ‘fill in the blanks’. We have one that is licensed to Rake Mark and for our clients and this is included in our legal document package in our web design packages.

Of course you could just find a website with a privacy policy and substitute pertinent information with your company details. The Google website privacy policy used to be very popular for this, I don’t know if it still is.

Required Fields Can Do More Harm Than Good

Web Design Tip 30: Keep contact and sign-up forms simple with the information you need. The same goes for required fields, try not to insist

Web Design Tip 31: On contact forms, required fields can annoy your website visitors. If you don’t absolutely need their phone number, ask but don’t insist

Required fields are the fields on a form that the website designer says you have to fill in and can be one of the most annoying things about contact forms. If you want a quick answer to a question about rabbit food then do you really need my address? Of course not. So if you would like the address then ask for it but don’t require that field on a contact form.

Your contact forms require a way for you to get in touch with the person asking the question (email usually but a phone number will also serve) and then the enquiry itself. That’s all. End of. A name is nice, but not needed, its not required.

Lots of required fields will increase your ‘abandon rate’ on forms, website visitors just won’t fill them in, they’ll leave your web page or website instead.

Website Form Validation: Handle with Care

Web Design Tip 32: Another contact forms tip, keep validation to a minimum. Not everyone will agree that a postcode has to have your exact format

Web Design Tip 33: Another contact forms tip, keep validation to a minimum. Some people want to put in brackets & spaces when entering their phone number

Web Form validation is using computerised rules to make sure that the information that a web visitor enters makes sense. So your web designer might say that the phone number box can only be filled with numbers or that a postcode box should be filled in a set format.

The issue with this can be that your visitors might not take the same view as you regarding a phone number only being numbers. I always enter my phone number with gaps, so the number for the web design staffordshire offices would be 01785 256 222. This isn’t just numbers (it has space characters in it) and would be rejected. The same would be true if I bracketed the area code.

Website Contact Forms: The Golden Rule is Keep It Simple

It is essential that you keep any web forms on your website as simple a possible. You want your visitors to fill these in to sign up to newsletters, to ask you questions and to engage. Requiring extra information and making them difficult to fill in with unnecessary validation will turn your web visitors off and send them running into the arms of your competitors.

Keep up to date with the Web Design Staffordshire team by following the Rake Mark Twitter Feed.



Have you switched to the ‘Timeline Side’

Facebook TimelineIt has been almost 8 months since Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that they Social Media Facebook Website Design was being updated and they would soon be rolling out the redesign for all developer’s (at the time in beta) but users could also sign up if they wanted. Since then a lot of users (business and non-business) have been forced over to the updated ‘timeline’ version.

The design at the time was said to be “more nicely designed” and included the tile affect that was thought to make organization, archive and keeping up-to-date with friend recent activity even easier. Released at the same time was the “Cover” which in brief is the Large Image that you are given the opportunity to upload that is designed the assist in the individuality profile that Zuckerberg seems to be striving for.

Since then there has been much talk of likes, dislikes and quite a bit of reluctance to switch over so much so that I still know a few (and I mean 2 or 3 that’s all that is left) that have not been forced to the “Timeline Side”

Talking to our clients and friends we have found that some just simply don’t like change (what was wrong with the way it was before), some worry about the security and the mandatory, automatic ‘opt-in’ feature that the new Facebook Website Timeline has and some  don’t like the “re-jigging” and left/right column switches that goes on.

According to a Mashable survey done at the beginning of 2012 “79% of more than 1,500 voters wish that Facebook Timeline were optional.”

We think that this figure has most likely altered over the last few months, so we have decided to do our own survey and actually see what you guys think now.

We have popped a Facebook Poll up, go vote and let us know what you think, we’d love to know.

More Web Design Tips For Quick Wins on Your Website

Another installment based on the web design tips tweets that we put out most days at 10am on our twitter feed. If you have just stumbled onto this web design article then this is aimed at all website owners who manage their own site rather than employ a web designer or web marketer to manage it for them.

The tips are designed to provide a quick win for the website owner who can apply the principle in the tweet simply and in short measure. The follow up blog post or ‘wash-up’ as they are becoming known is designed to flesh out any information that was difficult to put into the 140 character twitter limit.

One final twist in the web design tips series is that I am trying to group tweets together into relevant web design groups so that readers get a number of web design tweets on managing content or using visual clues as a group, and then the washup will discuss that group of tweets.

This means that the number of web design tweets in each article won’t be the same for each one. Previously I had imagined that I would add the tweets into web design ‘wash-up’ articles in groups of ten, but this seems unnecessary. This article contains web design tweets 21 to 28

Tweets on Managing and Updating Content on your Website

Web Design Tip 21: Will you need to update your pages in the future? If you will find out the cost of this with your designer before you start your project.

Web Design Tip 22: If you need to update your own web pages regularly then a Content Managed Website will allow you to do this yourself

Web design Tip 23: Do you need to add new pages to your website? Again, there is a cost to this, so find out before you start off

Web Design Tip 24: Some content managed sites allow adding pages.

Most websites grow over time. Your users will expect to see new content, perhaps blog articles or news stories. You may find your product range changes or grows. So decide with your web designer in the early stages of your web design project how you will add new pages and what the cost for this will be.

If you want to add lots of new pages for blog or news articles then you will probably need to add these yourself. Discuss different blogging software, ask for a demo and make sure you are happy using it.

Selecting Your Content Management System

Web Design Tip 25: Some Content Managed Websites (CMS) are easy to use. Some, not so much. Check you are happy using yours before you start the project.

Web Design Tip 26: Unsure about how easy your CMS website will be to use? Ask for a demo of the web design package before you start

There are so many content management systems on the market that it can be difficult to know which one to use. Some web designers only like to support their favourite CMS and not any others. The issue for you might be that the CMS they want you to use is great for web designers but overly complicated for you to use.

If you need to add or edit pages regularly then make sure that you can both do this in a cost effective way and on a simple content managed system that you can use easily.

Getting Your Web Content Where it will be Noticed

Web Design Tip 27: Important information needs to be ‘above the fold’ This is the area of the screen that you see without scrolling

re: Web Design Tip 27, ‘the fold’ is a newspaper term. Imagine your newspaper on your lap folded halfway. The top half is above the fold

re: re: Web Design Tip 27. In the newspaper, advertising ‘above the fold’ is more expensive than that below the fold because it is more prominent.

Web Design Tip 28: Information ‘above the fold’ on your monitor may be different to that of others. Check your website in resolution 1024×768

When a web page loads the area that is first displayed is known in marketing circles as the area that is ‘above the fold’. This information is viewed by the user without any further interaction by them and therefore the area information ‘above the fold’ is the most viewed area of a web page.

It naturally follows then that the area ‘above the fold’ should contain the most important information on the page. Don’t waste this valuable web real estate, make sure that the key benefits are there with a call to action for the user, don’t make them scroll down to find out why they should be contacting you or buying your products.

Follow the Web Design Tips Series

The Rake Mark web design tips series continues on the Rake Mark twitter feed. Follow Rake Mark and join the thousand odd others who get their web design tips daily at 10am. Our follower numbers are growing all the time, thanks to those who follow.

You can also find out more about the Rake Mark’s new Email Marketing product by following the Rake Mail twitter feed…

Small Businesses – So you’re using Facebook in your Social Media Mix

Web Design & Social Media FacebookLast week we did a very brief outline of what, as a small business, you might use in the way of Social Media Marketing.
This topic is quite wide so we are going to chop it into bite size pieces so that it is easier to follow. This article we are going to cover the use of Facebook Business Pages.

Right to start with every Facebook business page needs to be set up from a personal/individual account. Now this doesn’t have to be the account you post all you family pics too, if you already have an account that is, in fact we would recommend that it isn’t (remembering to keep private and business very separate) so set up an account using a different email address and password and use this as “the Business Facebook Account”. Go to www facebook.com and set up a new account.

Ok, so you have your new/separate account set up and you’re logged in. Go to the very bottom of the page and you will see along the base of the page a link that says “Create a Page”, click on the link and follow the wizard answering all the relevant questions (remembering to use your business details).
For now it’s probably best if you ‘skip’ adding details when prompted (we will do that later).

Adding a Profile Picture

Upload and Good Quality (not blurred) image that is easily recognisable in a few seconds. It should remain constant throughout you Social Media activity, Blogging, twitter etc. maybe a slight variant on your original logo if required or maybe your main logo but be consistent. The size should be approx. 200 x 185 pixels – the visible area is 176px wide so make sure you leave reasonable border around your image.

Adding a Cover Picture

The cover picture should be 815 x 315 pixels in size and should take into consideration the bottom left corner being the placement of your Facebook Profile picture (this sits on top of you cover picture) Don’t make it anything too busy, but memorable and informative with reassurance that your visitor has come to the correct page.

Add General Profile information

The more information that you can provide for your followers the better, Hover over the section that you wish to update and an “Edit” box will appear. Update your company information and times and then it just a matter of adding updates, photos, posts and of course now you have put so much effort into setting it up promoting your Facebook page to ensure you get plenty of “likes” and good feedback.

Good Luck and Happy Facebook-ing ….  Oh and don’t forget to pop along to Rake Mark’s Web Design Facebook page and click ”Like”

Discussions Regarding Stuart Howe & Website Security

A couple of weeks ago I was trawling through articles to put up on the Web Design Staffordshire website and I saw a report regarding a man named as Stuart Howe. I thought it would be an interesting and relevant piece of news to visitors to our site and so I posted it.

This blog is sort of a ‘Matters Arising’ from that news article being posted.

I recieved a message via the Rake Mark site that claimed to be from the man in the article, Stuart Howe. It said he was unhappy with the article due to “massive inaccuracies” and also said we would be hearing from his solicitor. So for the record let’s be clear on who Stuart Howe is and what he is reported to have done.

He is reported by a number of sources to be web designer who was convicted under the computer misuse act. According to these reports he resigned from his job and then after resigning, he used passwords he obtained during his work to alter and delete material for a sofa website his ex firm, Precision Print, was responsible for. They [Precision Print] also found that he’d altered Precision Print’s website as well.

One of the articles I read said,

“When police interviewed Howe he admitted six offences under the Computer Misuse Act saying he was ‘probably disgruntled’.

The reason this is known and not presumed or alleged is because this is reported from a court case at Swansea Crown Court and it is reported that Stuart Howe pleaded guilty. It seems that these articles are reporting facts in evidence.

So first up, the original article is edited and back up.

Second thing, I did want to explore what would happen to our Rake Mark Web Design customers if someone decided to be really spiteful and abuse our trust and attack one of our sites.

When I first read the article I wondered if this could happen at Rake Mark Web Design. We put a huge amount of trust into certain individuals and if one of them got the grumps at some slight, real or imagined, what kind of damage could they do?

We examined our security policy, process and procedures and found that there really wasn’t that much that an employee could do. Outside hackers can bring down Home Office and other government sites and if they are that determined then you have to accept that they could probably bring down your website too. But that is a highly skilled and highly motivated outside hacker, not a disgruntled employee.

According to the reports I read, Stuart Howe used passwords he was given when in the employ of Precision Print and then used those passwords to ‘attack’ the sites in question.

At Rake Mark web design we change passwords regularly and always when someone leaves (well, actually as soon as they give their notice). Further, passwords used during the development of a website are always different to the passwords used when the website is passed to the customer. Another good, sensible layer of security.

So Rake Mark have good processes in place for keeping important information secure and keeping customer property that we are entrusted with safe. But, what if there was a lapse and someone suddenly had the ability to delete an entire site and its database. You have to have a contingency and like all good professional web design companies, Rake Mark has such a contingency in place.

If an ex or existing employee managed to completely delete a website then we would use the daily backups of that site to simply restore it.

Changes made during that day would unfortunately be lost, but the site as a whole would be back up and running shortly after finding out about the loss and any work that had been completed during that day would have could be re-completed, but one days work is the absolutely the most that could be lost.

Its a simple process that is common in most professional IT firms that you take regular backups of files and data that you hold. Because of what we do we keep the developers who have access to passwords and the server techs separate, this protects the backup from the person who might want to delete or damage a site.

If you have concerns about your website’s security and would like Rake Mark web design to help you, contact us for a free, confidential and no obligation discussion.

All the best everyone,

Small Businesses – Getting Started with Social Media

Getting Started with Social Media for your BusinessSo we all (or a lot of us anyway) have already engaged in social media of one kind or another. You perhaps use Facebook or maybe a Linked in or twitter account or perhaps written or read a blog article. Well this is all grouped together as “Social Media”. Anything that is partly made up of user input or content will fall into this group. So if you think you are a complete stranger to the Social Media Scene, think again.

Integrating your Social Media Skills into Business

First things First – As a business owner your current knowledge of blogging and user driven content is a solid place to start, but remember, the perhaps slightly flippant comment made on your mate’s wall after a few in the pub is NOT the content you want potential clients reading about the following Monday morning so keep personal and business in two completely different camps.

A few Practical Pointers

Start Small

Choose a single platform (Facebook, twitter or perhaps a blog) to start with and build a solid content level and reputation up with that first,  having several  “Non-Active” platforms is worse than having nothing at all.

Make your content worthy

Don’t waffle; make your updates and posts mean something to your followers/readers. That might be industry specific information or maybe a company update or even an offer that you are running but make it so it catches the eye and even if it not exactly what they are after makes them take a look anyway. Waffle content is out, they will drop you like a hot potato if you fill their wall or feed with “how you have bought a new kettle for the office”.

Interesting, Eye Catching, an Offer they just can’t refuse.

Keeping things regular

Once a month is pointless! Depending on which platform you have gone for kind of dictates the pace a bit.

Tweets are very limiting in character space so you should be looking to tweet at least once a day with maybe a few links of interest to keep things interesting.

Blog or News Articles once or twice a week with a min of 400-500 words if the topic warrants it but keep it regular and don’t forget your keywords.

Facebook, ideally you should be looking to drop in a status update about three times a week with offers, polls and images (perhaps new products or show cases). I wrote an article in 2010 on how status updates benefit a small business.

Hopefully that is enough to get you started on the road to what could be your best business marketing strategy yet.

Keep you eyes peeled as I shall be putting another article up on Social Media soon.

Ten More Top Web Design Tweets Expanded from Staffordshire Web Design

The sun is out in Staffordshire and this web designer is happy. I am writing this web design tips blog in the garden at my Stafford home, leaving Web Design Stafford HQ and its grey walls and buzzing phones to Sarah. The sun is shining and a cool glass of wine is to my right, laptop in front of me.

If you have been following the web design tips series either on our twitter feed or via the Rake Mark Blog then you will have found that

 Web Design Tip 11: Use a ‘Call to Action’ to make sure you actually ask for the business. Examples, ‘Call today for your free quote’

A simple web marketing tip that is important in all the marketing that you do. Your call to action, which could be as blatant as ‘call now for your free sample’, should be prominent on the page.

Web Design Tip 12: Use Signposts to direct your visitors quickly to the area of your site that interests them

When your website visitors land on your homepage they will often be there for a specific reason but may find that they can’t see where the information that they want is. This can be frustrating for your web site visitors but using a visual clue, like either an image or a large piece of text, which then links to the information they need, can be really powerful.

I’ve been talking about the power of web site signposts used in your web design for a while, a really good introduction is on the Rake Mark web design blog.

Web Design Tip 13: Weirdly, I’m a geek and I believe in science but I’m too superstitious to even think about putting a tip for 13. :)

‘Nuff Said!

Web Design Tip 14: Only use good quality images and flash animation on your website. Poor quality, badly taken or fuzzy photos make your site look unprofessional

Web Design Tip 15: Use images as visual clues to let your visitor know that they are in the right place and should read on and find out more

14 & 15: Images on your website provide vital clues in the crucial first few seconds of a visit to your website, so make sure you not only use an appropriate image to reinforce that your visitor is in the right place, but also make sure they are clear, crisp and professional. If you need to take them yourself, try to use a tripod, you’ll be amazed how much difference that can make.

Web Design Tip 16: Don’t Overdo the Images or Flash

Images or some flash animation on your website helps with both the visual appeal and the mind map for your visitors, but once you have made your point and drawn them in, additional images and flash become a turn off.

So make your point with images on your website, but don’t go overboard.

Web Design Tip 17: Make sure you can pause or stop video. Ideally video should be started by the user, not automatically on page load

Web Design Tip 18: Never Use Sound, background tracks or music. If you must offer sound let the user press the play button.

Videos and sounds can be really off putting when the just start off all by themselves, especially if you’re sitting in a quiet office with a bunch of co-workers. Video is making a huge impact to loads of businesses and websites, but let the user decide if they want to start them off, rather than making it auto-start.

The only sound on any website or web design that I was putting my name to would be a podcast, but as I have said before, I really don’t see the benefit in many cases of a podcast on your website.

Never use background music. Ever.

Web Design Tip 19: Strike a balance between text and images and flash. If you’re graphics heavy the search engines can struggle to judge relevancy of your site

Google loves text. It can understand and evaluate text. Maybe the day will come when Google can evaluate the pixels that make up an image and give you a ranking boost based on relevent images, but for now that doesn’t happen.

So an image heavy web page with little text can leave the search engines wondering a little bit. Make sure you put at least 300 to 500 words on each web page if you can.

Web Design Tip 20: Images and animation offer visual clues to your visitors but they increase the load time of the page.

Overdoing the images is something we’ve talked about earlier and this simply reinforces what we have already said. Another issue with lots of images on a page is this increases the time it takes to load. We are away from the world of dial-up now and very few people have those kinds of slow download speeds, but it still needs to be considered, especially if your website needs to be designed for mobile devices.

Phil Brassington, Web Design Staffordshire

Phil Brassington is a web designer who works and lives in Stafford, Staffordshire.

Rake Mark solutions provide web design services is currently number one for web design in Stafford and web design stafford on the Google search rankings. The goal is to be number one for web design in Staffordshire and across the West Midlands.

Web Design Tips: Staffordshire Web Design Wins, the Next Five Tweets

The web design tips are continuing this week on the web design Staffordshire twitter feed and we still have loads of great web design information to offer next week and beyond. Although a quick web design win via twitter is really useful the 160 character limit can make writing the web design tip that much more of a challenge than needs be.

So the purpose of the blog follow up is to be able to fill in some of the gaps left.

The first web design tips article was expected to cover the first ten web design tweets but hit the word count max about half way through, so we’ll mop up the next five tweets here and then go to the ten tweets at a time format, with about two tweets per day and a web design blog about once per week.

So from your friendly neighbourhood Staffordshire web design firm, here’s the next five tweets

Web Design Tip 6: Consider the font and size of text on your web site. A common sans serif font works best, like Arial.

Web Design Tip 7: Check that your text scales well (view -> Text Size in Internet Explorer) Also Changing the text size and allowing page zoom makes your web page accessible and usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. It’s important that your web pages are available to all your users. Spending some time changing the text size and zooming to check what your web page looks like is time well spent. what does your page look like when it’s zoomed

Some web browsers allow both text resizing and zooming, others just zoom. To zoom the web pages on your website, press control (ctrl) and the plus key on your keyboard.

Web Design Considerations for Web Browsers

Web Design Tip 8: Check your website in a the most popular browsers. See how it looks in both Internet Explorer and Mozilla. Chrome is getting popular, so check this one too

Web Design Tip 9: Even though its a bit old now, Windows XP users are stuck with Internet Explorer 8, so make sure your website still works in IE8

Web Design Tip 10: You may not know this but a lot of government and NHS organisations are still using Internet Explorer 6. So you do still need to check your site works in this browser

Making sure your website works well in different browsers is called cross browser compatibility. At the start of last year there were only really two important web browsers you needed to worry about, Internet Explorer by Microsoft and Firefox by the Mozilla foundation.

Since then the Chrome web browser by Google has really taken off and is fast becoming a first choice for many users. Also, with the explosion of the iPad many more users are browsing with Apple’s web browser, Safari. At least looking at your website through these browsers might well be worth the time.

Once you are happy that your website design works well in the latest version of all the main web browsers you have to turn your attention to the legacy browsers. Most web browsers update incrementally and automatically. Microsoft Internet Explorer releases security packs but also has very distinct versions which will display your website differently from one version to the next. Windows XP users are not able to install any version of IE above version 8.

Many government institutions and the NHS still use Internet Explorer version 6 (IE6). The reasons for this come down to security and the costs of maintaining these very high levels of security in updated versions. Whether this is good or bad is up for debate, what you have to live with is that they are using these old browsers and your website needs to display properly in all of them.

To test websites web designers use emulators to see what the web page will look like in the older versions of the web browser, or sometimes we keep old machines and use them purely for their old versions of web browsers. The emulators can be found and downloaded easily enough.

Another consideration is of course making sure that your website displays well on mobile devices, but this is another area to cover and would probably need to be a web design blog in its own right.

Quick 5 Web Design Tips, More Design Tips to Follow

A shorter article this time around, but fear not as the tweets on the web design Staffordshire twitter feed will be running for this week and next at the very least with more web design blogs to flush them out.

So until the next web design tips blog, this is web design staffordshire signing off.

Web Design Tips: Five Tweets Powering Up Your Website

Rake Mark Web Design has been tweeting out interesting web design information, web design articles and company information for some time now and we’ve gained nearly 1000 followers in the process, but during a meeting a couple of weeks ago we talked about adding real value to our tweets to give a genuine benefit to our twitter followers.

The web design tips series of tweets was one of the ideas that we thought of and one we have started with. Everyone loves a quick win, and a quick win that can increase your website’s effectiveness and your profits is good for everyone.

Although twitter is perfect for quick web design tips popped out through the day, it is easy to miss one, so here is a summary of the first ten web design tips, with a bit more information to help you get the most out of your website.

Web Design Tip 1: Always allow at least 250 words of text on the homepage in your design. Google Loves Text & your readers want info

This is primarily an SEO tip, if you have very little text on the homepage of your website then there is less for Google to crawl and index. The other side to this coin is that your visitors came for a reason and if they can’t find the answer to their query in a few minutes then they will leave. You can’t really give them much of a reason to stay in less than 250 words.

Web Design Tip 2: Make your phone number prominent on your homepage. Customers gain confidence, even if they don’t need you now.

There’s nothing worse than visiting a business, loving the website design and wanting to contact the business in question and having to search for their contact details. Even if your visitors aren’t trying to get in touch right now, your landline in a prominent position on your website will give confidence that you are a legitimate enterprise and here to stay.

Web Design Tip 3: Make sure you have a bold, unique logo that expresses your brand. Your logo is one of the most visible images associated with your business and your website.

Having a memorable logo will help casual observers remember your business and your website over your competitors. Firstly people will associate the image with your business, but ideally in time they will associate your logo with your industry. If you consider the Michelin Man, when you see that prominent logo, either the full detail or just an outline, you probably think tyres before you think of the brand.

Web Design Tip 4: Take your logo and make a ‘favicon’ from it. Your favicon is the little logo that is seen in the web browser when visitors are browsing your site.

The teeny logo that is shown on the web browser when someone visits your webpage is just another string to your branding bow. They can be tricky to design, but Rake Mark or your web designer should be able to help you out.

Web Design Tip 5: If possible, trademark your business name and your logo. It’s not as complicated as you might think.

Rake Mark Web Design trademarked our business name and logo a couple of years ago to protect our brand. It isn’t really a specific web design tip, but it is a good design and branding tip and the process really wasn’t all that difficult. We filled in all the papers ourselves and filed them with the modest fee.

More Web Design Tip And Web Design Tweets to Come

So that’s the first 5 tweets and I’ve also hit my self imposed ‘approaching boredom’ word count. The web design tip tweets are ongoing on a daily basis, so follow along by joining twitter and following the Rake Mark web design twitter feed.

New Web Design Trends Making Themselves Known in 2012

According to a research reported in the Rake Mark news feed, a visitor only needs 50 milliseconds to make a decision about your website. Even though we are still in February, this web design revelation is shaping web design and some new trends are emerging in 2012.

Wed Design in Stafford, Trends

‘Design Once Display Everywhere’ Web Design

With a raft of new devices hitting the market every year all with different screen sizes and abilities to display a web page, it’s important that the design of your web page can handle all the different mobile devices that might be displayed on it.

This type of ‘Design Once Display Everywhere’ Web Design is being referred to as Responsive web design, creating a fully fluid website, with layouts and images adapted to the size of the screen the page is being viewed on.

Sarah Brassington of Rake Mark, Web Design Staffordshire said, “Mobile users are making a bigger part of everyone’s visitor numbers and the number of mobile users is only going to go up”

Some form of mobile strategy needs to be on place for your business website. You can look for a ‘responsive web design’ strategy or look for a mainstream / mobile site strategy. Which you go for depends on your budget.

Clean / Minimalist Web Design Technique

Simplicity is the key. Effective uses of whitespace, strip things back to what you need and no more.

With the 50 millisecond rule more businesses are moving away from overly complex designs and crowded pages, simpler cleaner designs are being requested more and more. This doesn’t mean cutting back on anything other than items that are unnecessary. Images, animation and other design elements to give the required visual clues and add impact are still there, only anything that doesn’t add to the page is being removed.

Sarah believes that the clean & Minimalist web design is becoming popular due to faster loading times and increased visitor usability.

With the web page weight down pages load faster and users can find the information they are looking for more easily” she said. ,

With less clutter on the page, finding the information you need becomes a simpler task.

Using Infographics to Display Data on the Web

An infographic is a way to visually share information. The graphical display gives more information than if the data were simply provided.

Sarah Brassington said “The infographic made its way onto the web last year and is gaining in popularity. With new design packages available, creating infographics will become as simple as creating Excel Charts.

Many argue that then humble graph or chart is a primitive inforgraphic, other that digital charts and graphs were simply the forerunner. Whatever your point of view these visually stunning images that help us to visualise information like never before are set to become more popular through 2012 and beyond.

Whilst not impacting the design of the website itself, the Infographic is set to revolutionize the way we view and consume information.

Having harnessed a lot of popularity throughout 2011, the Infographic is a bright, enticing and uniquely user-friendly way to communicate information to the end consumer.

In this example of an infographic comparing the Titanic sinking to that of the Concordia, the fact it is written in Portuguese has little effect on the understanding.
Wed Design using Infographic

 Web Design into 2012 and Beyond

Director and head of design at Rake Mark Web Design in Staffordshire, Sarah Brassington has seen a number of design fads come and go, but these new trends are being driven by required function rather than fashion.

“For example, the adapting designs for mobile devices is born out of a need to satisfy the growing army of mobile browsers, rather than a fad that will fade in time.” She said

Whether these web design trends will become new forces in the world of web design remains to be seen.