Website design standards continue to evolve and grow more sophisticated. Tables are out; CSS is in. Flash is out (or should at least be used sparingly): HTML5 is (almost) in. Screen sizes now range from small smartphone screens to large, widescreen desktop monitors.
Beyond the technology, website designs are becoming more visually rich, with increasing use of animation, lush photography and beyond-the-ordinary typefaces. What website design trends should graphic artists take note of? How can you add life to a standard signup form? How can you utilize texture, transparency, and even Twitter to spice up website design? How do you know when it’s time to redesign your website? What strategic considerations should guide user experience design?
Discover the answers to these questions along with a heavy dose of artistic inspiration here in 27 of the best website design guides, tips and insights of the past year.
Visual Website Design
33 Beautiful Social Media Icon Sets For Designers And Bloggers by WebDesignBooth
Why settle for plain social media icons on your website or blog when you can add personality with these sets, featuring social media icons in woodgrain, blue jelly, hand-drawn doodle, origami, chrome, grunge, crumpled paper and other outside-the-box styles.
20 Resources for Displaying Twitter Updates by Mashable
Jacob Gube presents 15 examples of creative and unique ways that organizations have integrated Twitter feeds on their websites, plus five resources to help display a Tweet feed on any site.
Get Inspired: Beautiful Examples of Textures in Web Design by 1stwebdesigner
39 Brilliantly Designed Login and Sign Up Web Forms by CreativeFan
As with 404 error pages, sign-up forms don’t have to be plain and boring. Eric Shafer here compiles a remarkable collection of playful, epic and otherwise visually interesting sign-up and login forms from around the web.
60 Beautiful Corporate Website Designs for Your Inspiration by Oneextrapixel
Hilde Torbjornsen presents a compilation of visually stunning examples of corporate web design, mostly from very large organizations like Sony and Ford Motor Company. Much of the photography is dazzling. No clipart here.
60 Excellent and Beautiful Flash Websites For Inspiration by Tripwire Magazine
Dustin Betonio exhibits a gallery of remarkable Flash design examples from agencies, brands and elsewhere.
30 Fresh Inspirational Web Designs by CreativeFan
Writing “web design inspiration can help you stay up to date on current trends, as well as seeing how to structure designs, control color palettes, work with usability, and understand the overall design process,” Eric Shafer shares a gallery of beautiful and remarkable website designs.
40 Great Examples Of Transparency In Website Design by SpyreStudios
Jon Phillips notes that “Transparency is one of those things that can really add depth and make a website design pop – when it’s done right,” then provides 40 dazzling examples.
Website design: 12 sites dissected by iMedia Connection
Lisa Wehr uses a dozen examples to explain how visually rich design can be combined with user experience testing to create sites that are both beautiful and effective. Though her focus is on ecommerce sites, many of the principles apply more broadly.
25 Websites Featuring Stunning Typography by Site Sketch 101
Effects like texture, Flash and transparency aren’t the only ways to make a site that’s visually arresting; Nicholas Cardot shows how typography can be employed to produce websites that really pop as well.
23 Logos (With Innovative Ideas) That Make You Say WOW by Smashing Apps
An inspirational collection of impressively executed logos: clever, creative, cunning and cool.
Web Design Strategy
Web Visitors: Make Them Stick 10 Tips by SEO Wizardry
You spend a lot of time, effort and money to attract visitors to your site. In this post, Pete Hollier provides 10 tips to keep those visitors on your site for as long as possible, like living up to expectations (one would hope so!), making the site visually appealing, minimizing page load times and making your site easy to share.
5 ways to improve a website’s “brand voice” by iMedia Connection
Tim Garrigan recommends providing site search capability that gives visitors multiple ways to find content and using labels in your navigation that are clear to visitors (and not based on internal lingo) among other tips for optimizing the user experience on your site.
The Web Strategy Pyramid: A Well-balanced Web Strategy by Six Revisions
Jason Schubring suggests designing a site based on a five-layer pyramid model with content at the base, PPC at the top, and usability, SEO and social media sandwiched between.
5 Things That Websites Need in 2010! by Social Media Dudes
Five ways to separate your site from the millions of others out there, such as CSS—no, not cascading style sheets (they are a standard) but rather by crafting a design that is Clean, Simple and Straight to the point.
7 ways to improve your homepage by iMedia Connection
Robin Stevens recommends communicating a clear value proposition, providing a clearly marked and functional site search capability, and formatting content for the way people use websites (they don’t read, they scan) among other best practices for optimizing your site’s single most important page.
5 Items to Delete From Your Website Today by HubSpot Blog
As websites become more complex, with video, Flash, social media icons and more, Brian Halligan offers a handful of suggestions for what to remove from your site, such as industry jargon and long blocks of text.
5 reasons people hate your website by iMedia Connection
Lisa Wehr (again) advises that if you don’t want visitors to click away from your site screaming, avoid these five sins of web design such as having “a site that looks old, washed up, and like it was designed and launched in 1997″ or appearing “socially inept” through the lack of any mention of your social media presence.
Is It Time For A Website Redesign? by B2C Marketing Insider
Josh Levine list seven questions to ask to determine if it’s time for a complete site redesign; answer “no” to any of these questions (e.g., is your site flexible? Are you utilizing social media?), and it’s a “yes” that it’s time to think about a new website.
Why marketers need open-source CMS solutions by iMedia Connection
Contending that “proprietary, commercial CMS solutions, such as Autonomy’s Interwoven and Microsoft’s CMS, are expensive, difficult to maintain without paid support from their vendors, and limited in terms of their customizability,” John Bosso reviews three popular open source alternatives that give marketers maximal flexibility at minimal cost.
Google Instant Previews Makes Site Design A Priority by MediaPost Online Media Daily
Frequent best-of contributor Laurie Sullivan explains how the Instant Preview feature in Google search works, and why it “could prompt an increase in demand for designers and put more emphasis on colors and page layout…(and) have brands scrambling to redesign Web sites.”
6 reasons to rethink your website by iMedia Connection
Frank O’Brien outlines six ways to develop an awesome website, “an experience that engages your audience,” from incorporating social elements and creating an integrated marketing network (hmm, sounds a bit like web presence optimization), to rewarding your brand advocates.
Mobile Website Design
How to Create a Mobile Version of your Website by 1stwebdesigner
Abhishek Bhardwaj discusses “key aspects & techniques that a web developer/designer must follow to have a clean & professional looking mobile version of any website,” with sections on layout, coding and tools.
8 Tools for Easily Creating a Mobile Version of Your Website by American Express OPEN Forum
Jacob Gube (busy guy) here reviews eight tools for creating mobile websites that are “all aimed at site owners who don’t have any web development/coding experience. They’re perfect solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses because of their cost effectiveness.”
10 Excellent Tools for Testing Your Site on Mobile Devices by Six Revisions
As you work on building a mobile version of your site (see the posts above), you need to test it to assure it displays properly of course. But how do you test for the vast number of different mobile devices and platforms out there? John Pring reviews 10 tools that can help you make sure your site renders properly on the mobile web, without forcing you to buy one of every mobile device on the market.
Custom 404 Error Pages
Weekly Inspiration: 22 Awesome 404 Error Pages – N.13 by Underworld Magazines
As if the funny, bizarre, creative and otherwise unusual 404 error pages covered here weren’t enough, this post features almost two dozen more inspiring and off-the-wall alternatives to the boring, standard 404 error page.
50 Outstanding and Stylish 404 Error Pages by DesignsMag
Sure, custom 404 pages are fun, but they’re practical as well as pointed out in this post: “many designers these days are taking a little extra time and effort to get creative with the 404 page. Doing so helps ease frustration by the user and shows an attention to detail.” The noteworthy examples shown here can help keep visitors on your site when they end up in the wrong place due to a typo, out-of-date link or other error.