I have the privilege of working alongside many amazing web designers here on the LightCMS team. They stay up to date with the latest trends in web design and are experts at keeping websites simple and elegant. Recently, I asked several of them for wisdom to impart to our web designer community. Happy to oblige, our designers gave me the following quick tips, which they utilize in nearly every project.
- Avoid the snazzy drop-down menus
I saw the above website in an article on UI nightmares by Smashing Magazine, and it shows exactly what the problem with drop down menus is. While these fancy navigational additions can look good, they are likely more trouble for users than they are worth. The dexterity required is often beyond that of the average user.
Still, this is a soft and fast rule. There are always going to be situations where a simple drop-down menu is the best solution.The main key is to avoid overly ornate and intricate drop-down menus. While showing off your incredible CSS3 skills can be impressive, simplicity and subtlety are said to be the tools of experienced and effective designers.
Design using a grid
Print designers have been using grids for a very long time, and web design is in large part catching up. Creating web designs on a grid framework lends your designs a subconscious visual appeal and increases the organization, legibility, and impact of your work.
As a reseller, grid-based web design carries several other bonuses. First, you can prefab designs that are easy to pick up and work with in very little time. Second, it simplifies your code, making future modifications that much easier. Most design programs will have some sort of grid functionality, often with very customizable controls.
Here are some helpful resources:
Vertical rhythm, line-height, and ratios
Although this is an extension of the last tip, it is a topic that can be studied independently. Typography on the web is a huge topic of interest to serious designers. While everyone wants their website to be visually appealing, attractive, and easy to understand, we also want to make sure that our font choice, paragraph spacing, etc. are conducive to being read.
Is typography really that big of a deal? Consider for a moment if this article were written with all-caps bubble letters or if the letters simply overlapped. Reading this blog would be very difficult. But while those may be absurd examples, as designers we do well to push beyond what is simply "good enough" or default and move forward into what's the best use of spacing, kerning, line height, etc.
Web typography is an enormous subject, but there are some simple things you can learn to get started. For example, many sites use a 12-px font with an 18-px baseline grid, which can be a great place to begin.
Here are some articles to help you learn more about typography on the web:
Tue, September 14, 2010
by Vince Conn filed under