In 2024, effective, user-friendly websites are a vital part of any business’s marketing strategy. Whether an organization is driving sales, spreading information, or providing a service, modern web design can help create engaged, satisfied customers and site visitors.
What is Modern Web Design?
Modern web design refers to the practice of designing and developing websites that prioritize user experience (UX), aesthetics, and functionality. Modern websites should be responsive and optimized for mobile devices, which users increasingly prefer to use to access the internet.
In line with creating a positive user experience, modern websites emphasize simplicity and minimalism, with clean, uncluttered designs that make it easy for users to navigate and find the information they’re looking for.
Other key aspects of modern web design are accessibility, usability, and speed. In addition to having intuitive navigation, strong typography, and high-quality images and graphics, websites should be accessible and usable to everyone, including those with disabilities. Lastly, speed is a non-negotiable factor in ensuring a smooth user experience.
Top 10 Core Elements of Modern Web Design
Mobile device traffic now accounts for more than half of all web traffic worldwide. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be losing half of all potential customers.
Mobile-optimized website layouts can be created by allowing website elements like images, text, and user interfaces (UIs), to automatically rescale and resize depending on the device used to access the site.
Beyond automatic responses, mobile-friendly design might mean changing the style of elements or the amount of space on the screen to ensure that users can see all the elements and navigate the site properly.
Typography should be unique to your brand but consistent with your brand’s personality. For example, serif fonts are well-suited to formal or serious businesses, while sans serif fonts work for more creative brands.
Fonts should also be consistent across all web pages, browsers, and computers. Avoid using fonts that are not supported by common browsers and computers.
Website text should be easily readable, with a size of at least 16 pixels and enough space between lines. Using a complementary text is ideal for headings, but you shouldn’t go beyond three different typefaces. Lastly, there should be plenty of contrast between the color of your text and your site’s background colors.
Your site’s navigation should get users where they want to go as quickly as possible. This means avoiding overly animated hover effects and complex, multi-tiered sub-navigation menus.
Hamburger menus are a great way to save space and provide an uncluttered interface, especially on mobile devices. They’re buttons represented by three parallel, horizontal lines that expand into a broader menu.
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Engaging & Responsive Hero Images
Hero images are large, high-quality images on the top of your website and one of the first things users will see. Relevant hero images can help users understand more about your brand, attract them to your products, and encourage them to take action, like scrolling down or clicking a call-to-action (CTA) button.
High-Quality Product Images
Put simply, effective images can convey more information, more quickly than text can. Using high-quality images on your website allows you to highlight the most valuable features and benefits of your products, and images are scan-friendly. Users can look through the image and gain a solid understanding of your product in less time than it would take them to read through chunks of text.
No matter how user-friendly your website is, if it loads slowly, it’ll drive users away. That’s why it’s critical to optimize all elements of your site for speed.
This means optimizing all images to balance image quality and file size. For example, PNG images offer higher quality and transparency but are much larger than JPEGs. Generally, JPEGs provide the best balance between speed and quality.
You should also compress any files hosted on your site. Many modern compression tools can reduce file size without reducing functionality.
Additionally, dedicated or virtual private server (VPS) hosting usually offers faster site loading speeds than shared hosting solutions.
Not all site visitors have the time or the desire to visit multiple pages on your site. They might only need a phone number or address, which is why key information needs to be in plain sight, in an area that’s easily accessible. Site visitors who can’t find what they need are likely to leave your site and not return.
A website that is truly designed with users in mind should anticipate what they need and have elements arranged logically. If a site visitor is searching for one of your products or services, your website should have a landing page that’s relevant to what they searched for, instead of forcing them to go through your website to find it.
Cross Browser Compatibility
Every design element that’s coded into a site needs to display and function flawlessly on every device and browser where the site is viewed. This requires iterative testing on the actual browsers and devices, which means every batch of designs pushed through staging must be verified through a browser compatibility matrix.
When designing a website, you have to consider how your choices will affect your search engine ranking. Back-end elements like meta tags, heading tags, and other code edits can help improve your site’s search engine optimization.
Remember that for all search engines, but particularly Google, speed is a key factor in your site’s SEO.
How Web Design Improves User Experience
From the header to the footer of your website, each design decision you make influences user experience. For example, your header is the first thing a user will see, but that doesn’t mean it should be jam-packed with information. A header should be easily scannable so users can find the information they need, and the placement of text and other elements should follow a pattern. If users start at the top and read left to right, the left and right corners are ideal places for a main CTA button.
A well-designed menu can also set the foundation for a positive user experience. Menus are core navigation elements, and they should help users quickly achieve their goals on your website. Rather than simply using modern web design techniques, your design decisions should be made based on user research. You have to consider user expectations and how their experience will be affected by things like tech literacy and the environment in which they access your website.
Become a Certified Web Designer in Erie
If you’re interested in designing modern, user-friendly websites to help today’s businesses succeed, consider enrolling in the Web Design & Social Media Marketing Program at Erie Institute of Technology.
In this 15-month course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of HTML and CSS, using content management systems, and designing and publishing content on social media platforms. You’ll leave as an in-demand, highly valuable asset to any company.
Apply online today or learn more about our computer and design programs.
Ross Aresco is the CFO of Erie Institute of Technology. Erie Institute of Technology (EIT) is an Erie Pennsylvania technical/trade school providing training programs for medical, computer, electronics, manufacturing, and technology careers. EIT offers programs in many different areas to suit your interests and talents.