Trends in web design have changed, especially over the past 2-3 years. This is not simply a fashion thing that can be dismissed lightly. Web design changes have largely been driven by technology, especially the trend towards hand held devices such as tablets and smart phones.
Design for Users
Handheld devices, smart phones in particular, have limited screen space, especially width. Unless a website has been designed specifically to adapt to such screens then the browsing experience will be extremely frustrating. The technical term for websites that have been designed to be viewed on hand held devices as well as desktop computers, is responsive design.
A website that has not been designed to be responsive will, typically, appear on a smart phone screen as a shrunken version of exactly the same thing that is seen on a larger screen. In order to read it, the viewer will have to expand the view. In doing so, much of the web page will disappear off the screen to the right. In order to read the page, the viewer will have to scroll sideways. This is extremely frustrating for the reader and, in some cases, makes the page virtually unreadable.
These days, all websites should be developed to be responsive. Even sites that were designed a couple of years ago should be redesigned to be responsive. Sites that are not will gradually lose visitors because more and more people are opting to view websites on handheld devices.
Design for Google
As of 21st April 2015 Google has started to penalize websites that are not designed to be responsive. They are doing this for the very reason that I stated above, in that more and more people are viewing websites on hand held devices. Google is trying to shape the digital future by remaining at the forefront of the technology it is seen to promote.
Starting April 21st , we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
Modern, responsive designed websites tend to have a few dominant characteristics.
- A design that adapts its structure depending on the width of the screen.
- Large, clear fonts that can be read on small screen without having to expand the view.
- Uncluttered screen layouts that don’t confuse the viewer when the screen size is smaller.
- Larger, but high resolution, images that look classy on larger screens but still provide an uncluttered look on small screens.
To see an example of a responsive design, take a look at www.redcarpethospitality.co.uk.
Try viewing your website on your smart phone, Is it responsive? If not, I suggest you contact your web developer as soon as possible, find out what it would take to redesign it to be responsive and then start planning to upgrade.