As Image Management’s administrator, my job does not necessarily entail overseeing our company’s website design division. However, I do feel the need to keep my finger on the pulse of the latest techniques and styles in the ever-changing world of website development. On May 17th, I attended a business exposition in downtown Milwaukee featuring an expert in the field of web design. Since our company’s designers and programmers have recently made changes to the way our websites are built, this was a prime opportunity to confirm whether or not those changes met with the approval of respected experts. I was pleased to learn that our company’s latest design trends are fully in line with what I learned at the expo.
One of those trends is the use of long pages versus pages that are above the fold – i.e., websites built for scrolling instead of being designed to fit certain monitor sizes. As the variety of devices people use to access the Internet has grown exponentially, long pages are undeniably the way of the future. We are now telling our clients that it is okay to scroll down on their site’s homepage, since the page does not have to fit everyone’s monitor.
See an example of a long page design at Basecamp.
Utilizing top-aligned navigation versus left-hand navigation has also become quite popular. While left-hand navigation displays links to different pages on the left side of a site’s homepage, top-aligned navigation is now the industry standard. Recent evidence has found that our eyes typically start at the top of the page and work their way to the right, as opposed to starting at the left side of the page and working their way down.
See an example of top-aligned navigation at Apple.
In addition, top-aligned navigation is synonymous with mega menus. Since not all browsers are able to recognize them, drop-down / pull-out menus can be frustrating for users to navigate. There’s nothing more irksome than hovering over a link that vanishes or is not there in the first place. Accessing a page should not be like playing a video game. Mega menus, on the other hand, feature a large box that opens up as users scroll over the top-aligned link. Within the box, you can utilize menu items and sub-menu items. A good example of this can be found at a site our company recently completed: MasterAppliance.com. Simply scroll over to the “Heat Tool Products” tab to find a prime example of a mega menu.
See an example of mega menus at Master Appliance.
Another prominent trend is the use of mixed column layout. This technique entails a combination of different numbered columns on a single webpage. In other words, you can write a paragraph-style column, which would feature a single column. Alternatively, you can go to a three-column format, which discusses three services or products within the same webpage. Then, you can return to a single column and, if you wish, go to a two-column format. The page is split into different sections based on the number of columns. Cramming too much information into a single column is liable to make your site look outdated and unprofessional, whereas utilizing mixed columns will give your site a sleek, cutting-edge feel.
See an example of a responsive, multiple-column layout at The Boston Globe.
At the end of the day, none of the information shared by the aforementioned expert came as a surprise to our team. Thanks to the dedication of our company’s experienced staff of web designers, the sites produced by Image Management incorporate all the latest trends in the field of web design. As administrator of Image Management, I can rest easy knowing our team makes a point of staying current with the most recent changes in their field, ensuring that our clients receive the most up-to-date websites available.
Published on May 21, 2012