It’s easy to get in a rut when designing websites. Web designers know what they’re good at and tend to play to their strengths. However, certain projects allow a designer to look at a site in a different way, and to push their creative approach to new limits. Boosting creativity starts with studying current trends in web design, evaluating what makes them successful, and implementing those techniques using your own unique style. To get your creative juices flowing, here are 10 tips to consider.
1.) Think in color—and the lack thereof. When re-vamping or creating a site from scratch for a client, use the knowledge that is available of color to strengthen your concept. For instance, blue themes are attractive both to men and women and suggest calm and tranquility while providing a sense of dependability and reliability. This is why the color is often used in combination with white for the websites of hospitals (see sites for Johns Hopkins Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital) to suggest that the hospital is capable of soothing and healing and can be counted on as reliable.
2.) Think seasonally for websites. Something a designer can offer his or her clients is a design service that develops a site four ways seasonally. As summer slips into winter, the client can use a site with a modified design to reflect the season. This will help keep a site’s appearance fresh, and works for many different kinds of sites offering a variety of goods and services affected by the seasons.
3.) Break out of the sans serif rut. Serif fonts are at once more formal and more traditional than a sans serif, and it is well known that they are more difficult to read on a website. However, a good designer can find a way to maintain a site’s clarity—through use of images and brevity, for example—while still experimenting with serif fonts. While a sans serif font is more masculine and modern, it has been overdone to the point of tedium on websites, and those designers that can effectively use a serif font will produce sites that stand out from the crowd. Check out a blog on this design topic here.
4.) Try a photo header. I’ve been spotting a certain valuable design technique cropping up in WordPress blogs of all places. The idea is to abandon the idea of developing a unique font concept for a page header and instead substituting photography of some sort bearing the site’s name. A blog on feminist motherhood titled BLUE MILK does this effectively.
5.) Think background. The background of a website is a good place for a designer to add his or her finishing flourish. This blogger had a subtle paint splash on the background of his blog that adds an excellent visual element. The website for design studio Lighthouse London also uses a strong-yet-subtle visual element in the background (and note the serif font, as well).
6.) Consider subtle moving parts. A good example of this design technique is a site called GulfCoastHope, which features waves that move slowly across the bottom of the site. It is enough movement to catch the eye, but not enough to distract from the site’s content.
7.) Consider user-accessible moving parts. The site for Doorstep Dairy allows its visitors to coast across the bottom of the screen in a friendly milk truck simply by letting their curser rest over it. What’s more, the technique is almost guaranteed to make a visitor want to learn about the product. It’s not in the least bit complicated, immediately and obviously gives visitors something to do on the site and succeeds in its mission to inform the site’s visitors.
8.) “Handwritten” fonts are it. Especially for youth-centric websites, this is trend worth following for web designers (think indie album art). Marie Catrib’s site makes use of handwritten fonts particularly well and so does a simple measure.
9.) Green is go. “Green living” in all its incarnations is a trend to follow in web design. Today’s modern web visitors want sites that are simple/minimalistic, and reflect all that is earthy and of nature.
10.) Make it interactive. Designing sites so that they connect to Facebook and Twitter is important and helps visitors become more engaged in a site. It’s also important to provide message boards and chat forums when appropriate. If you are designing for an emerging company, you may even incorporate a “suggestions box,” using an image rather than just providing an e-mail connection with the site owner like you’ve seen a million times.