Archive for the ‘Website Design’ Category

31 Spectacular Web Design Guides, Techniques and Resources

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Paradoxically, in the early days of websites, when there were few standards to adhere to, most business websites were laid out with pretty much the same template: grid layout, logo in the upper left, content in the middle or left frame, “highlights” in the right sidebar. And being edgy meant using a slightly different shade of blue as the dominant color. A few adventurous souls did some creative things with Flash, but even then, few people saw these sites because they were invisible to search engines.

Today, most sites use CSS rather than tables, avoid the use of deprecated tags, and adhere to W3C standards, and yet—the variety and creativity of website design is greater than ever.

How can you design a website that stands out visually from the crowd yet meets users’ needs? Maximizes social engagement? Optimizes trust and conversions? Looks as good on a smartphone as on a monster monitor? Find out here in more than 30 of the best articles and blog posts on website design of the past year.

General Website Design Guides

13 Website Social Optimization Oversights That Make You Look Foolish by Search Engine Watch

Angie SchottmillerThe positively awesome Angie Schottmuller identifies a baker’s dozen barriers to social media engagement on your website, such as requiring account creation or sign-in in order to comment (“Ease up on the form lock down. Allow users to rate and comment without creating an account…Forgotten passwords are a huge barrier to on-going engagement, so leverage OpenID and social sign-on tools to simplify the comment interaction process”).

Why “Infographic Thinking” Is The Future, Not A Fad by Fast Company

John PavlusJohn Pavlus reports that Francesco Franchi is bullish on the potential of infographics—but only if done well. In this video, the art director at one of Italy’s top financial news outlets says that content needs to come first, that infographics shouldn’t be like PowerPoint presentations, and that they don’t need to be one-dimensional.

10 ways to make your website more social by iMedia Connection

Jeff RagovinJeff Ragovin offers tips for creating a more social-friendly website, from first determining your social objectives and choosing your social networks wisely to keeping “your theme and aesthetic similar across digital presences” (i.e., branding) and incentivizing your readers to share your content.

10 Useful Findings About How People View Websites by ConversionXL

Peep LajaPeep Laja shares practical applications of 10 findings from eye-tracking studies, such as that the top left-corner of a site gets initial attention; that people read in F-patterns; that the most effective images are large, high-quality photos of people facing forward; and, most frighteningly, that “When viewing a website, it takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression.”

List Building: The four questions every email capture page must answer by MarketingSherpa

David Kilpatrick outlines four questions visitors will naturally have when hitting your landing page, such as “Why should I sign up?…What you want to avoid is simply saying, ‘Sign up for our FREE newsletter.’ Write from the subscriber’s point of view and explain how the opt-in for your email program will help the new subscriber solve challenges and eliminate pain points.”

6 Tips to Boost Your Web Presence by Inc.

Though this post largely centers around Lance Armstrong’s website—since somewhat discredited by Lance’s honesty issues—it still contains some great nuggets of wisdom, such as that one should “Keep it simple. The goal of most websites is to get visitors to the content they seek as quickly as possible. A simple, intuitive design is the best way to accomplish that.”

Put Customer Convenience Front And Center When Designing Websites – Part II by MediaPost

Jim Gilmartin details 10 “dos and don’ts” of website design, specifically “to help increase the satisfaction quotient and reduce the frustration quotient of most site visitors especially Baby Boomers and senior visitors,” though the advice applies much more broadly than that. For example, do include a blog and place a (simple) newsletter sign-up box on your site (presuming you offer a newsletter); don’t use auto-play videos, Flash or poorly-crafted titles.

12 Design Best Practices for Drop-Down Menus by Get Elastic

Linda BustosLinda Bustos offers a dozen tips for maximizing the usability of drop-down menus, among them: keep menus as short as possible; use multiple columns for unavoidably long menus; set the menu off clearly with a border or shadow; and get the timing right (“the menu should wait for half a second before appearing, as this prevents the menu popping up every time a user passes their mouse pointer over the top”).

Free Design Fonts

10 Extremely Good Free Fonts for Your Designs by Web Design Ledger

Henry JonesHenry Jones showcases 10 free design fonts, including Bemio, a fun, rounded “ultrabold sans with an extensive character set (which) bridges the gap between old signage and craftsmanship with modern forms and simplicity,” designed by Joe Prince.

28 New Free Fonts For Web Designers by Splashnology

This post highlights more than two dozen free fonts for web designers, such as Adamas Regular by Octavian Belintan, PLSTK by Aesthetic Therapie and Bispo by Jackson Alves. “a script typeface made inspiring on italic chancery calligraphy, with a flat nib pen and a module of 10 pen widths.”

8 Beautiful New Free Fonts by Web Design Ledger

Henry Jones (again) shares eight more free design fonts, including FatFrank, Acorn Typeface and the art deco-ish 47.

10 Excellent New Free Fonts by Web Design Ledger

One more set of free font downloads from Henry Jones, this set featuring typefaces like Nexa, Bouwen and NeoDeco.

Free Social Media Icon Sets

115 Creative and Unique Social Media Icon Sets by EntheosWeb Blog

There’s nothing unusual about including social media icons on blogs, but there are certainly some unusual and distinctive icon sets here. If you want the social icons on your site to stand out from the standard circles or rounded squares, you’ll find plenty of alternatives here, from colorful splashes and jeans pockets to coffee cups, bottle caps and T-shirts.

Best Free Social Media Icon Sets for 2012 by DandyWP

Hand-drawn social media icon setWhile there is inevitably some overlap between this post and the one above, here you will also find interesting icon sets along the themes of trucks, blueprints, monochrome and hand-drawn themes.

20 Free Social Icon Packs That Will Make Your Design Stand Up by Top Design Magazine

Still more social icon sets, from hearts and “Windows 8 style” to squares and sprockets.

Free Social Media Icons (34 Sets) by Graphic Design Junction

Muhammad Faisal presents nearly three dozen creative social icon sets, with themes ranging from 3D social icons and icons with a hand-sketched look to blue, neon, street signs, faded, retro, flaming, dark, frozen. letterpress, Easter egg, and speech bubble.

Parallax Scrolling Design Guides

Parallax Hovering And Its Engaging Quality For Web Design by Usabilla

Sabina IdlerSabina Idler explains what parallax effects are in scrolling and hovering, how they work, how they attract visitor attention, and a bit about how to implement them, then illustrates all of this with 10 richly visual examples of parallax website design, from Grab&Go  to Batman 3D.

Hot Web Design Trends: Parallax Scrolling Effects in 100 Examples by Splashnology

For more about parallax scrolling (which is a “technique that features layered images that move around the website in different speeds/perspectives creating a nice and interesting 3D illusion”), check out 100 more examples of the approach here including 8vodesigns, Head2heart.us and Electrochuck.com

Website Trust and Credibility

The Psychology of Why Sexy Websites Suck at Sales by KISSmetrics

D Bnonn TennantD Bnonn Tennant explains why consumers naturally trust “attractive” websites, but that in this case, attractive does not mean sexy or flashy—it means following some conventional design standards that won’t make a site exciting, but may very well help it to convert more successfully.

Give Your Website Soul With Emotionally Intelligent Interactions by Smashing Magazine

Chuck LonganeckerChuck Longanecker writes that when he researched sites and apps with high loyalty, he found “the websites and apps we truly love have one thing in common: soul. They’re humanized. They have emotional intelligence designed into the user experience. And this emotional intelligence is crafted through thoughtful interaction design and feedback mechanisms built into the website.” He then showcases a number of sites that meet this criteria, demonstrating how each is infused with creativity and emotional intelligence.

9 User Experience Pitfalls That Repel Website Visitors by KISSmetrics

Zach BulygoBecause no one wants to lose website visitors due to factors within their control, Zach Bulygo here reveals the unpleasant truths about factors that can drive visitors away, including the use of stock photography (that smiling young woman with the headset representing “customer service” is used on far too many sites), having a slow-loading site, using auto-play videos, and—ugh, my pet peeve!—pop-ups. As Zach puts it, “It’s 2012, why does your website still have annoying pop-up advertisements?…Save pop-ups for the spam sites.”

39 Factors: Website Credibility Checklist by ConversionXL

Writing that “web credibility is about making your website in such a way that it comes across as trustworthy and knowledgeable. Your website is often the first point of contact for the customers…Companies that design for credibility have a strategic advantage over competition,” Peep Laja (again) identifies four types of website credibility, then presents a detailed website credibility checklist–factors to examine (and if necessary, change) on your site such as using case studies and testimonials, while avoiding excessive ads, unsupported superlatives and cheesy stock photos.

Landing Page and CTA Design Tips

8 Reasons Users Don’t Fill Out Sign Up Forms by UX Movement

Noting that “Most users today are more wary than ever about who handles their personal information. In a cyber world full of hackers and spammers, who can blame them?,” this post outlines reasons visitors may not be signing up on your site (for a download, a webinar, a newsletter, whatever)—and by extension, how you can make it more likely that they will sign up—such as fear of being spammed, concern you’re asking for too much information or information you don’t need, or simply not seeing a compelling call to action.

5 Highly Effective Landing Page Tips by Search Engine Land

Mona ElesseilyMona Elesseily details five elements that can increase landing page engagement, including credibility indicators like customer quotes, removing unnecessary page elements, and experimenting with different wording on action buttons (after all, who really wants to “submit”?).

14 Real-Life Examples of CTA Copy YOU Should Copy by HubSpot

Pamela VaughanNoting that “while CTA design is critical to initially drawing the attention of your visitors, it’s the copy of your calls-to-action that has to be compelling enough to get them clicking,” frequent best-of honoree Pamela Vaughan shares 14 examples of outstanding call-to-action copywriting from both well-known sites (Amazon.com) and more obscure ones (OH! Media).

Mobile Website Design Tips, Tools and Resources

Ultimate Guide to Responsive Web Design: 55 Stunning Tools, Tutorials, and Examples by 1stWebDesigner

Noting that “It is estimated that within two years mobile internet users will overtake the desktop internet users,” Daniels Mekšs steps through more than 50 resources for responsive design, from tools like Less Framework 4 and Gridless to sources of “Inspiration” like Quazarwebdesign and Apgdesign.

The 5 worst mobile websites by iMedia Connection

Eric AndersonOf course these aren’t literally the very worst mobile sites in existence, but as Eric Anderson explains, “rather than trying to simply expose five bad mobile sites, I looked for sites that were archetypal of certain common mobile usability problems,” and he found, among others, “The bad first date: Hardee’s” which asks for your zipcode (while you are likely on the road far from home) and the “irony of the year award: Nokia” which—at the time of the writing of this article—did not actually have a mobile website.

10 best practices for your mobile website by Socialmedia.biz

Deltina HayDeltina Hay presents 10 “best practices that should be applied to all mobile websites,” among them taking advantage of mobile features (“Like the click-to-call button, there are features specific to mobile devices that can be used to improve your site’s user experience”) and using a conventional URL structure (“It is becoming standard to find a website’s mobile version at a URL like m.example.com”).

Why Google loves responsive design (and you should too) by Econsultancy

Mike EssexMike Essex outlines half a dozen reasons to use responsive design, such as that “Responsive sites attract more links to key pages” (because there aren’t multiple URLs with the same copy), responsive sites work on multiple devices, and responsive sites (usually) look better, then points readers to resources for getting started with responsive design.

Mobile Websites vs Responsive Design: What’s the right solution for your business? by Google Mobile Ads Blog
***** 5 STARS

Jessica SapickAlthough responsive design is now generally regarded as the best approach to accommodating the needs of both desktop and mobile web users, Jessica Sapick points out that it’s not the best approach in every situation—and provides a vital guide to determining which approach is best based specific business needs.

Best practices for mobile email design by Econsultancy

Observing that about a third of email use is now on mobile devices, Erik Boman offers more than a dozen practical tips for mobile-friendly email design, from going easy on images and including social links (but keeping them out of the way of important calls to action) to using a one-column layout and not crowding links.

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Nine B2B Marketing Lessons from College Visits

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I’ve spent several weekends this summer experiencing the excitement and trepidation of visiting colleges with my eldest offspring.

The Campanile at Iowa State UniversityThe adventures have been eye-opening (college life has changed a lot since the 90s) and, sitting late last week in another university presentation, it occurred to me that there are lessons to be learned for social media marketers from the way colleges handle this process: (at least) nine of them.

One advantage that university marketers have over their most of their b2b counterparts in optimizing their programs is scale; colleges can learn from and fine-tune their messages and marketing processes based on thousands of interactions each year. Only the largest b2b enterprises approach that level of sales activity. So, here are several lessons b2b marketers can take from that high-volume learning.

1. Provide prospects with a “guided tour.” On college tours, representatives of the university show you around different buildings and classrooms, explaining key features along the way, and always end the walk by telling you where/how you can find more information.

B2b buyers probably won’t come to your office in droves, but you can provide them with a similar experience online. Design your website to guide prospects through your different product and service offerings. Content should focus on compelling high-level messages, but always provide the opportunity to “learn more” by drilling into detailed functional specifications for those who really want that level of detail.

2. Focus on your differentiators. Every university offers certain services (flexible meal plans, for example) so these features tend to be touched on lightly. The focus is always on what sets the campus apart, for example the innovative use of technology in the classroom at Purdue or the one-of-a-kind tornado simulator at Iowa State University.

For b2b marketers, it’s crucial to communicate those messages about your products and/or services that include words like “only,” “first,” “largest,” “fastest,” “most,” etc.. Just be sure to back up these statements with facts, examples and demonstrations.

3. Anticipate questions. Fielding questions from thousands of prospective students each year enables college marketers to integrate answers to most common questions into their web content, brochures and presentations.

This can be more challenging for smaller b2b companies, and particularly for startups. Marketers need to take advantage of every customer and prospect interaction as well as tapping the experiences of sales and customer service personnel to develop content and materials that address the most common questions in their markets.

4. Make it easy for prospects to ask additional questions. College presenters and tour guides encourage questions at almost any time.

B2b vendors should do the same on their websites through features like site search, FAQs, prominent and easy-to-find phone numbers and email addresses, social media links, and interactive capabilities beyond online chat. Like a college tour guide, a b2b website should encourage dialog and make it easy to engage.

5. Address price straightforwardly—but find ways to avoid “sticker shock.”  College is expensive, very expensive, yet most universities do provide easy-to-find cost data broken out by the main categories of tuition, books, and room & board. But they often preface this information with a page covering topics like financial aid, scholarships and student employment.

B2b marketers can’t entice buyers with promises of government financial aid, of course, but there several other tactics that can be employed to minimize price objections, such as:

  • • Offer your product in a modular fashion, so it can be purchased and implemented one affordable piece at a time.
  • • Lead with proof of compelling ROI, or an ROI calculator to enable prospects to do their own calculations
  • • Provide products and services in a mix-and-match, a la carte fashion, enabling buyers to purchase only what they really need.
  • • Offer different levels of product/service bundles, e.g., Basic, Premium and Enterprise.
  • • Offer discounts based on organization type (e.g., for educational institutions and non-profits), based on volume, or based on pre-payment.
  • • If your pricing model is necessarily complex, simplify presentation for the web by providing a wide range with a narrower “most cost” range, similar to the way Mack Collier explains the cost of social media.
  • • Provide terms such as buy vs. rent offerings, a monthly fee or payment plan, or financing offers (car companies do a great job with this, advertising their vehicles as costing $x per month rather than showing the sticker price).

6. Address cultural as well as functional issues. Recognizing that university life is about the experience as well the education, college tour guides spend as much time talking about campus life as they do about academics, covering topics like housing, food, amenities (green spaces, gym access), local shops and restaurants, clubs and activities, and sports (intramural and spectator).

Similarly, many b2b purchases aren’t one-off transactions but rather the start of a (hopefully long-term) relationship. So tell prospective not just about product features but also about what it’s like to be your customer. For example, do you offer an online support and discussion community just for customers? How do you keep your customers informed of product updates, patches and new features? What kind of environmental and sustainability initiatives do you have in place? In other words, communicate not only about what you sell but also about what kind of company you are, and why prospective buyers should want to do business with you.

7. Use multimedia. College tour guides excel at mixing demonstrations, graphics, photos and video into their presentations.

Though rich media is nothing new, many b2b websites are still predominantly text. Make your site stand out and communicate more effectively by incorporating diagrams, infographics, animation, photos, video and other media types.

8. Appeal to both the “buyer” and the “check writer.” College representatives make sure to address the concerns of both their “functional buyers” (students) and the “economic buyers” (usually parents) by pointing out topics like financial aid (see above), placement rates and on-campus job fairs.

B2b marketers similarly need to address multiple audiences, often including management (cost reductions, improvements in operations, new capabilities), users (ease of use, built-in help, simplified workflow), the IT department (ease of integration, minimal implementation requirements) and finance / executive management (increased efficiency, lower costs, higher revenue).

9. Let your customers speak for you. Most of the tour guides and many of the presenters are students; who better to “sell” the university to potential incoming freshmen than next year’s upperclassmen? Students naturally understand the concerns and interests of their peers, and are seen as highly credible and knowledgeable sources of information.

Developing case studies and collecting testimonials can sometimes be challenging in the b2b world due to corporate policies about endorsing vendors, but even in situations where your customers can’t sing your praises directly, there are ways to let them “speak” to prospective buyers on your behalf.

If you find yourself stuck in rut with your b2b marketing, recycling the same-old same-old tactics, take a look outside your industry inspiration. After all, as many of us remember from our college experiences: some of the most important learning happens outside the classroom.

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Can Adobe Muse Work for Your Web Design Needs?

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Guest post by Anita Brady.

Are you wasting money paying for web development and design services? Ever wondered if you could do it all yourself and save a pile of money?

Adobe MuseThe newest software release from Adobe, a web design platform called Muse may allow you to do just that. Although this new release has had its share of industry criticism and controversy, this revolutionary new CMS software allows graphic designers with minimal web experience to make professional looking sites and export HTML in minutes. Although Apple’s iWeb preceded Muse in the “DIY web-design for dummies” category, the integration of Muse with Adobe’s other programs like Photoshop promises to open up professional site creation to a new level of non-coding designers.

Featuring an interface similar to Adobe InDesign, new users will feel right at home with the familiar toolbars and design layout. Using the simplistic front-end, you can create a professional website that could serve a variety of purposes: blog, e-commerce, business site, search marketing, or portfolio. Someone with very little website design experience is now able to create a stylish and professional looking site in just a few steps. With a little bit of work, you can add full functionality to an otherwise boring Muse site that would cost hundreds in professional design fees. Here are a few extra things you should know if you are considering giving Muse a try.

Mobile Ready

Adobe has been working to optimize the HTML output for Muse to be mobile-friendly. This is important considering that 20 percent of all web traffic in the U.S. and Canada now comes from mobile devices. In the meantime, there are a few design considerations that you should make to ensure your site will load properly.

Text Columns. In your main page design, be sure to break up text fields into two or three columns. Not only is it easier for viewers to read, but also having multiple text columns will allow mobile devices to load your entire text box on one screen.

Image Size. Good images are important, but make sure they are not too large! Except for your main page header, be sure that your pictures are less than 300 pixels wide and are optimized for mobile websites. Muse has some image optimization built in, but that doesn’t mean that you should embed a five-megabyte image just because you can. Resized images end up looking un-sharp and may be slow to load. Keeping your images at proper size and dimensions will ensure they load quickly and properly on mobile devices.

SEO. Good search engine optimization tags are also critical to making your new Muse site mobile-ready. Be sure to include pertinent keywords in the description of each page (under page options), including a couple of relevant sentences about your site, as well as your business zip code. This description pops up directly under search results, and including your zip code helps ensure that you are featured in local business results on sites like Google.

Ecommerce

Don’t be scared of incorporating a shopping cart or online store element to your site. There are many great third-party sites like Wazala that feature a simple back end that allows you to create a full store-front and then embed it into your Muse page. You can literally create a professional online store in minutes and have it up and running without ever writing any HTML.

Embeddable Apps

Adding functionality to a basic Muse site is relatively easy. There are loads of third-party sites that allow you to include a variety of add-on apps. There is a work-around for just about every limitation within Muse. Sites like Nabble can create embeddable forms, mailing list sign-ups, and even discussion forums that will integrate perfectly with Muse. By taking advantage of these powerful third-party apps, you are using all the resources available to you as an amateur web developer, and hopefully creating a unique site that will stick out from other Muse designers.

Serve Ads

If you are looking to create a site with original content or a discussion section, consider displaying ads on your site to help offset hosting expenses or boost revenue. With hosts like Google AdChoices, you can generate HTML that will embed smart-ads seamlessly into you existing Muse site. These ads are usually displayed in between posts or on a dedicated side bar. Even though you are just learning web design, take advantage of professional advertising options and add legitimacy and revenue to your online business.

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As you can see there is huge potential for creating something great, even with minimal experience. So why not take advantage? Consider adding a few of these little “extras” into your new design to make up for any design features that Muse lacks in order to make the most of this revolutionary new opportunity for yourself and your business!

Senior executive Anita Brady is the President of 123Print.com, a leading provider of a high variety of quality items like business cards, fancy letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.

FTC Disclosure: This information is presented as an independent product review of Adobe Muse. Webbiquity has no financial relationship with either Adobe or 123Print.com.

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B2B Mobile Websites: Prepare, but Don’t Panic

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

You’ve seen the statistics: mobile browsing (e.g., browsing the web using a smart phone or other mobile device) will eclipse desktop web browsing sometime in 2013. Yikes! More than half of my website traffic coming from mobile phones? I’m not ready!

Relax (unless you’re in the relatively small group of businesses that shouldn’t). Mobile browsing is unquestionably having an impact on website strategy, but the impact varies widely among different sectors based on a variety of factors.

Type of business: if you run a bar, restaurant or specialty retail shop that is dependent on local traffic, then by all means you had better have a sophisticated local and mobile web strategy. As recently as five years ago, many of your patrons were likely finding you through the (print) yellow pages. Most households don’t even want those tree-killing doorstops anymore, much less do they use them.

Local service businesses have a bit more breathing room, but only a bit. If you offer home repair, plumbing, electrical, landscaping or other types of services, your clients may use the “big screen” of a desktop or laptop PC to find your company, read about your offerings. and research reviews. But even this simple research is becoming increasingly mobile.

For B2B companies with complex offerings, however, the pressure is far less urgent. For considered purchases, where the research is generally conducted within the workplace environment, desktop browsing still reigns. Based on analysis of traffic patterns of b2b technology websites I’ve worked with (more than 40 are displayed in my Google Analytics home screen view currently), mobile browsing is a growing but still fairly small part of the picture. This is not a comprehensive study but is likely to be generally representative of B2B websites.

B2B IT Website Mobile Visitor Statistics 2012

 

Note that, on the one hand, the share of total website traffic nearly doubled from the first quarter of 2011 to the first three months of 2012—a clear indication of increasing use of mobile browsers to access b2b websites. But note also that the mobile proportion is still only 1 of every 16 visitors on average, and as few as 1 of 50 at the low end of the range. Hence: prepare, but don’t panic.

That observation doesn’t tell the complete story, however, as a portion of those visitors are using tablets, with screens almost as large as small laptops. What’s really crucial to consider is how many visitors are coming to your site from a smart phone with a small format screen.

B2B Technology Website Visitors - Smartphone Statistics 2012

 

When tablets (such as the iPad) are excluded, the share of mobile visitors is considerably smaller; roughly 2/3 of all mobile visitors. These are the potential visitors for whom you really need an optimized mobile website experience. But though they have increased by nearly 50% in the past year, they still account for just 1 out of every 24 visitors to the typical B2B tech company website, on average.

Type of information sought: whereas desktop computers are used for a wide range of tasks including in-depth research, mobile devices (in a b2b context) are most frequently used for three purposes:

  • • Fact-checking: is the software both Windows- and Mac-compatible, or better yet, completely cloud-based? What are the dimensions of a device, or specific properties of a material?
  • • Location-based information: where is your closest sales office? Where can I take the item for service?
  • • Communication: not surprisingly, as communications were the initial purpose of mobile devices, your customers and prospects will often visit your mobile site seeking to contact your company. Make it easy with click-to-call buttons, email links, and links to your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.

Demographics: while one has to be careful here to avoid stereotypes (and it is true that 82% of CEOs own smartphones), there’s no question that digital natives (those born in 1990 or later) are simply more immersed in mobile technology (having literally grown up with it) and are therefore likely to be, all other things being equal, heavier users of the mobile web than are typical b2b decision makers (generally in their 40s, 50s or 60s).

Again, a sophisticated mobile presence is essential now for bars, clubs, gyms, universities, restaurants, theaters, and any other business catering to 20-somethings. Digital natives are the b2b decision makers of tomorrow, so again, when it comes to b2b mobile web presence, companies need to prepare but not panic.

Specifically, here are three steps b2b marketers should take today if they don’t already have a mobile strategy in place:

1. Check you website analytics to see what percentage of your visitors are coming from mobile devices. If it’s more than 5%, you need to develop a mobile plan for website design. If it’s more than 10%, you need to develop a mobile website—quickly.

2. Check to see how your current website looks on a variety of mobile devices, or use mobile device emulators. If it isn’t the experience you’d want your customers and prospects to have, you need to develop a mobile plan.

3. When developing your mobile site plan, be sure to incorporate best practices in mobile website design.

When it comes to mobile and b2b, don’t freak out over the hype, but do take action.

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Best Website, UX and Mobile Design Guides and Tips of 2011

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Inspired web designers continue to push the envelope on what’s possible in online presentation, utilizing HTML5 and design elements and techniques like parallax scrolling effects, imaginative icons and unusual typography to stand out from the ordinary and grab visitors’ attention. Any website element can be creatively designed and optimized, from navigation menus and forms to landing pages and 404 error pages.

Web design isn’t only about creating a visually striking site of course; designers also need to keep in mind factors like site load speed, user experience and search optimization. And with the rapid increase in use of mobile device browsing, sites have to be readily adaptable to different screen sizes.

So how does a web designer create a site that’s visually stunning and fast and user-friendly and effective at driving conversions and search-optimized and mobile-friendly? It’s a lot to keep with, but these 33 remarkable web design guides should help.

Creative and Inspiring Graphic Design

35 Inspiring Examples of Websites Using HTML5 by Web Design Ledger

Foundation Six HTML5 WebsiteGisele Muller presents “35 new examples of websites that are also using some new tricks from HTML5,” including Wantlist, Vision18, Visua Design and Andrew Shanley.

40 Beautiful and Inspiring Examples of Slideshows in Web Design by Tripwire Magazine

Noting that “There are many reasons to use a slideshow or image slider in your web designs as the key to smart strategic Web design is finding a smartest and interactive way to display your information to your visitors,” Dustin Betonio showcases a collection of “highly creative, beautiful and inspirational slideshows for your inspiration,” like winestore, Crush + Lovely and Fox Classics.

35 must see examples of websites using HTML5 by Web and Designers

HTML5 Lab Web DesignA collection of nearly three dozen examples of remarkable website design using HTML5, including sites like Chico web design, Dribbble, John Kavanagh and Griottes.

8 ground-breaking websites by iMedia Connection

Jennifer Marlo shares eight critiques of brand websites from industry thought-leaders who share what they find unusual or effective about each site as well as what they’d change. For example, Thomas Mueller of Siegel+Gale writes of the Nike Better World site, “Beautiful fades and elegant transitions transform what could have otherwise been a straightforward linear experience into a layered visual exploration that links to Nike’s comprehensive digital footprint.”

30 Awesome Social Icon Packs by Webdesignersblog

Social Media Icon CansA big collection of creative icon packs, from teacups, cupcakes and peeling stickers to clover, cartoons and cans. Icons don’t have to be boring!

Your Website is Killing Me by Social Media Explorer

In this wonderfully revealing rant, Heather Rast explicates why many business websites fail, and what they could do to improve, e.g., “Your web team consists of the super sophisticated, MacBook-toting college-age kid of one of the vice presidents. (as if a Dreamweaver course covered usability standards)…Your site uses internal language and writes from internal hot buttons to communicate with external audiences.  Think mission statements, vision statements, core values…Awards and certifications abound. From 2008.”

Hot Web Design Trends: Parallax Scrolling Effects in 100 Examples by Splashnology

What’s this post about? “Parallax scrolling in web design is the technique that features layered images that move around the website in different speeds/perspectives creating a nice and interesting 3D illusion. Initially it was used for creating an illusion of depth in a 2D video games and adding to the immersion, but now, with the help of well defined imagery, JQuery and CSS3, it can be useful in making your site look more vivid and creative. To your attention we’ve complied a great collection of 100 example of parallax scrolling effect.” These are cool.

20 Mind-Boggling Parallax Website Design And How To Make One by 1st Web Designer

Jamal Jackson defines parallax design as “the apparent displacement or the difference in apparent direction of an object as seen from two different points not on a straight line with the object. In web design use, parallax refers to the scrolling technique used to create the illusion of depth on websites,” then highlights examples of sites like Living Word, Dezignus and Art of Flight (which is truly extraordinary–take a look).

Art of Flight - Parallax Web Design Example

 

Navigation Menu Design

25 Beautiful & Inspiring Navigation Menus by Web Design Ledger

Gisele Muller (again) rounds up “25 examples of beautiful and inspiring navigation menus” featuring likes like Unfold, Shout, Sellected Studio and Don’t Throw Batteries.

28 Stylish Examples of Drop-Down Navigation Menus in Web Design by DesignModo

Drop-Down Navigation Menu ExampleElegant and creative drop-down menus incorporating transparency, icons, shading, highlighting, color, shapes and other effects to stand out from the ordinary.

20 Inspiring Navigation Menus by Web Design Ledger

20 more examples of creative navigation menu design, using typography, color, transparency, parallax scrolling and other effects, including sites like Timberland, Citroen and divups.

Typography in Web Design

Beyond Times and Arial – The New Web Safe Fonts by Google Webmaster Central Blog

David Wurtz explains how Google Web Fonts work, provides some examples, and notes that “The adoption of the web font technology has been rapid. Google Web Fonts now serves roughly 50 million daily requests[1], across roughly 800,000 unique websites[2], and is growing at about 30% each month.”

50 Excellent Free Handwritten Fonts by Designer Terminal

Covered by Your Grace - Web TypefaceTaimur Asghar presents 50 (mostly) free handwriting-type fonts for designers. The “slide over” ads on this page get a tad annoying, but the fonts are beautiful and worth checking just for the lyrical names, like Niakania, CrimsonVermillion, Throw My Hands Up in the Air and Annie Use Your Telescope.

Imaginative 404 Error Pages

33 More Entertaining 404 Error Pages by Mashable

Erica Swallow features more creative, funny, odd and quirky 404 error pages from sites like Audiko, Blizzard Entertainment (blames the user–but very creatively) and iContact, which turns things upside down—literally.

35 Creative 404 Error Pages by Web Design Ledger

Heinz 404 Error PageGisele Muller (yet again) shares examples of unusual but nice 404 error pages that show consideration for users, including pages from Carol Rivello, duoh and Frye / Wiles.

Optimizing Error Pages: Creating Opportunities Out Of Mistakes by Smashing Magazine

Daniel Waisberg reviews “techniques that will help Web designers and UI professionals improve their error pages in order to engage visitors and improve the experience,” including smart things to include on a 404 error page (company name/logo, explanation of why this page is appearing, easy navigation back to popular pages on the site), how to monitor 404 page visits and navigation, and tips for minimizing 404 errors.

Landing Page Design

Why Your Form Buttons Should Never Say Submit by UX Movement

Excellent advice, concisely presented: “A ‘Submit’ button describes what the system does well, but it doesn’t describe what the user does at all…The action button should affirm what that task is, so that users know exactly what happens when they click that button (e.g., ‘Create Account,” “Subscribe Now’)…The more focused your form is, the more likely you’ll get users to complete your form.”

5 Ideas For Boosting Your Landing Page Conversion Rates by Business2Community

Kristina Allen offers a handful of helpful suggestions for improving landing page performance, such as trying a unique design format, building trust, and testing early and often.

25 Excellent Examples of Forms in Web Design by Web Design Ledger

Vincent Mazza Form ExampleOnline forms don’t have to be boring, as shown in these remarkable examples from Foundation Six, Vincent Mazza and Justalab among others. A creatively designed form may increase your conversion rates—or at least get your form mentioned in a blog post on web design.

5 Common Landing Page Mistakes by HubSpot Blog

Andrew Pitre offers tips for improving landing page performance, such as #2, “Use Your Headline to Explain the Value of Your Offer – What’s in it for Me?…The best way to achieve this is to have a clear title. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure your title contains:

  • • A clear action (e.g. “Download our Guide”)
  • • A clear description of your offer (e.g. “Download our Guide to Effective Landing Pages”)
  • • An explanation of the value of your offer (e.g. “Download our Guide to Effective Landing Pages and Learn How to Increase Conversions by over 10%”)”

22 Creative Landing Page Designs – A Showcase, Critique, and Optimization Discussion by Unbounce

Mammoth Lakes Landing Page ExampleIn this richly-illustrated and incredibly detailed post, Oli Gardner examines almost two dozen landing pages from small to midsize businesses and critiques each one detailing what he likes about it (e.g., “Testimonials: Testimonials and association with famous people/shows are included for instant credibility”) and what he’d change or test.

50 Effective and Creative Call to Action Buttons by Noupe

Aquil Akhter showcases sites that go way beyond boring gray “submit” buttons to get visitors to click, utilizing unusual shapes, colors, size, placement, effects, arrows, icons and descriptive calls to action.

The 10 most common Landing Page Optimization mistakes by Web SEO Analytics

Vasilis Vryniotis details ten common landing page mistakes, from having an unclear call to action or too much text to requesting too much information and not testing different landing page variations.

6 Essential PPC Landing Page Optimizations by The Daily SEO Blog

A half-dozen tips for increasing landing page conversions, from pre-positioning the cursor in the first field to be filled out and using eye-tracking data to integrating testimonials and driving to a single call to action.

User Experience and Technical Design

30 Ways to Optimise Your Site for Speed by SEOptimise

Noting that, in addition to the fact that slow-loading websites are annoying for user, “in 2010 Google decided to take site speed into account as a direct ranking factor”—thus making it all that much more critical—Tad Chef offers 30 tips for speeding up your site, from using smaller images and external scripts to switching to a faster web hosting service and limiting the use of third-party widgets on your blog or website.

5 Little-Known Web Files That Can Enhance Your Website by Six Revisions

Alexander Dawson details five files that can improve your website UX, including Geo.kml (and Geo.rdf) for geolocation information, Humans.txt for attribution, and vCard.vcf, a digital business card (another effective option here is a portable Workface profile.

How To Fix The Top Tech Issues I Regularly See In SEO by MediaPost Search Insider

The prolific Janet Driscoll Miller offers tips on several common technical design issues that can impact SEO and how to correct them, for example: “avoid using Javascript on key areas of your website, such as the navigation. Links contained within Javascript are also not indexable, providing a roadblock of sorts for the bots to index your site. If you’re looking for impressive menus, instead focus on using cascading style sheets (CSS) to achieve a similar effect.” She also provides tips for speeding the load time of WordPress sites.

8 reasons why someone leave your website – An infographic by The Web Citizen

What makes someone leave a website? (Infographic)Ilias Chelidonis shares an infographic detailing the top reasons visitors bounce from, or at least don’t stick around long, on websites including bad navigation, obtrusive ads or video, boring content/design, and poor readability.

25 Must-Haves for a Remarkable Website by HubSpot Blog

Jessica Meher presents 25 “key elements for driving more traffic, leads, and sales,” like optimizing page content and title tags for search, using relevant imagery, writing copy that is clear rather than clever, and using calls-to-action that stand out.

Mobile Website Design

How to design and develop for mobile sites by iMedia Connection

Mark Simpson supplies five tips for effective mobile site design, such as asking questions to determine what site content you have that is really relevant in the mobile environment: “Sites like Foursquare and Mashable have done a good job of making their sites accessible in the mobile world. What patterns do you notice? What website components have smart marketers left off their mobile sites? What features make the apps and sites more user-friendly?”

How Does Your Website Look on Different Mobile Phones? by Digital Inspiration
***** 5 STARS

Acknowledging that it is much more challenging to test a website on every permutation of mobile device than on the far more limited number of popular desktop browsers, Amit Agarwal reviews Opera Mobile Emulator and Mobilizer, two tools that enable to designers to see how their sites will look on a wide range of mobile devices.

24 Excellent Examples of Responsive Web Design by Web Design Ledger

Two dozen examples of sites that use dynamic web design–web architecture that enables a single design to automatically adapt to a wide range of devices and screen sizes–such as Fork, Atlason and food sense.

What Elements Should You Eliminate When Building a Mobile Website? by The Daily Egg

Six design experts offer their advice on the difficult question of what website elements to eliminate in mobile design, such as this from Andrew Pautler: “I think the better question than ‘what should we cut’ to think about is ‘what should we keep.’ The answer to that question should almost always be the content. People come to your site for the content, so that’s what you should give them. The excessive navigation, oversized banner ads, 15 Facebook links on a single page, etc. are usually the things worth cutting when reducing your site to 320px..That said, mobile doesn’t and shouldn’t mean ‘watered down’…Creating a ‘mobile’ version of your site with limited content is not what the user wants. You can re-prioritize the content, but you shouldn’t hide or remove important content from the mobile version.”

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