How Creativity Can Be A Problem to Your Website

creative design

Everyone wants to be creative in order to deliver the best works in their work. I used to think that being fully creative is the most important part in every design projects. While that may be partly true, it can be a problem sometimes, especially if you are dealing with web design. If you own a business, you know that in order for your business to be more recognised, you have to make your own website so that you can be more interactive with your customers or potential customers, and they can also feel familiar with your brand. A website also helps in building trust with your audience, because aside from always being informed and updated about what you’re up to, they can also trust that you are keeping it real and authentic. However, while having a website, you might want to be very creative in expressing yourself on your website, which can lead to a very beautifully designed website. That being said, will that website work well in the long run?

Well, as a person who wants to keep learning and learning more about design and creativity, I have come to a conclusion: it is not all about creativity. The more you design for people, the more you see that creativity is better if used for the people you design for, not for your own satisfaction. This means, you use your creativity to make the website easier to use and not only good in the eyes. Most of us start as visual designers, and then we grow and learn more about user interface, conversion, user experience, accessibility, or usability. That’s when you realise that it is not only about being creative.

While being creative is good for your website, using too much creativity without logically thinking will soon be a problem to your website. Why? Well, ever seen a website with cool introductions and creative animations before, but then when you stay on that website, you realise that the longer you stay there, the longer it takes to load and suddenly your PC starts to crash. Yes, that’s how creativity can be a problem to your website. The truth is that too-complicated layouts, too-creative solutions and reinventing wheels won’t make your users’ life easier. Therefore, a good balance between a creative, artistic, and original design while still making it intuitive, without losing usability yet still providing good results for the business is the right choice to be creative without having a problem. The question is; how? Well, this article will answer it for you! Keep reading to find out!

According to Google’s research, users prefer websites that look both simple (low complexity) and familiar (high prototypicality). While that doesn’t mean that your website should look boring, your website should be easy to access, especially in the navigation part where it can lead your visitors to every page easily as if they were being familiar with the website. Aside from that, your website should also look unique at the same time. One thing for sure, as unique as your website is, never ever make your visitors think hard just to access your website. There are many early established web conventions and standards like the placement of your logo, navigation, search bar or login link. There are even conventions on an icon’s meaning, website element names, (e.g. Home, Sitemap, or Contact), button styles, layout and visual hierarchy. All of these standards will help your users navigate and find what they need much faster and easier. Just stick to some of the most popular conventions but use your creativity elsewhere.

So, where should you put your creativity? You can use your imagination on visual design. You can always be creative when it comes to the visual design. That being said, that doesn’t mean you can put animation designs on every web pages. In the visual part of design, you can try to make over some colour with different colour schemes or interesting font combinations. You can also play with spacing, visual balance and hierarchy. Design original illustrations or clever hover and scrolling effects. Try to find creative ways to simplify your design. Minimalism is not about hiding features or content, but about doing less, which is better. Yes, actually simplifying design can very often need more creativity than making it complex.

That’s how you can balance between being creative while placing yourself in your visitors’ shoes – be them, and feel your own website. Put yourself in their perspective and that’s how you understand the unity between creativity and usability.

One Page to Rule Them All: The Pros and Cons of Single Page Websites

Web Development Tips

Back in elementary school, I used to despise Goosebumps’ choose your own adventure books. It is excruciating having to flip through pages after pages at a whim only to follow a plot that ends up being ultimately unsatisfying. I don’t have a problem with the concept itself, mind you, as there are a lot of videogames that uses the same design principle that I greatly enjoy. I just don’t think the concept necessarily works on paperback form.

As such, I tend to not like pieces on the internet that requires me to jump through several different links to get the whole picture. It tends to break the flow of the piece itself and while switching between browser tabs is simply a minor inconvenience on desktop browsers, it’s quite a hassle on mobile browsers. Apparently, the world sort of understands my concern because currently, there’s a trend in web development called single page website that aims to rectify this.

One page is all we need

A single page website is exactly what it says in the title, it’s a website or a section of one that displays all of its content within a single page. As mobile internet traffic has finally overtaken traditional desktops, single page website emerges as one of the mobile-friendly solution for web developers. Consolidating your entire content inside a single page could do wonders to your internet experience, such as:

  • Helpful for the one-handed internet experience

When the iPhone first came out in 2007, it comes with a diagonal screen size of 3.5 inches. For a time, the world continues along like that until Android phones began to tinker with larger screen sizes. When Dell arrived on the scene with the at-the-time gargantuan Streak 5 that came with a 5-inch screen, the late Steve Jobs famously stated that ‘no one’s going to buy that’. Then the Galaxy Note came along, popularizing the term ‘phablet’, a portmanteau of the word phone and tablet and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 2014, a study came out that the average screen size of smartphones stood at 5 inches, well above the average of 3 inches in 2007 and that it’s still on the rise. The current data is a bit skewed considering smartphones now comes with taller, but not wider, displays but let’s just say that they’re just as wide as 5.5-inch 16:9 smartphones. This has resulted in smartphone companies adding a one-handed mode for easier multitasking, which mitigates the problem. Single page websites aims to solve it completely.

Because scrolling is easy to do on a smartphone, single page websites effectively utilizes the gesture capabilities of smartphone while at the same time eliminating its biggest problem, tedious tab switching. To accommodate the conventional desktop experience, usually a table of content is added onto the page, like what you’d see on Wikipedia so that quick navigation is still possible. It’s not a compromise; it’s the best of both worlds.

  • It’s ideal for longform and/or detailed contents

Remember when newspaper displays a story on the front page only to force you to open another page to read the rest? Annoying isn’t it? Websites also suffer from the same mistakes, especially when it comes to hardware reviews where several different pages are dedicated to specific parts of the hardware. This is annoying as again, you’re required to switch between tabs to take in the whole picture.

Imagine if they work like this story on Cape Town’s drought problem from the Huffington Post. Like the point above, going with a single page website doesn’t mean you have to give up on quick navigation as Wikipedia has been utilizing table of contents and quick links for more than a decade. As a compromise, web developers could also use multi page design while still adding a view as a single page option, as used by several different websites.

  • They can offer a great multimedia experience

Check out this excellent story from SBS Australia on the 2003 Sydney student murders. That is probably one of the best presentation I’ve ever seen when it comes to longform journalism. First is obviously the excellent animation, which I believe employs a technique called rotoscoping, a technique I’ve always loved since I first saw A Scanner Darkly. Second is the seamless mixture of images and videos interspersed within the piece itself, which enhances the main text instead of distracting users from them.

Third, and my personal favorite, is how the piece differentiates between the perspective of Ram Tiwary, who was falsely suspected and then charged for the murders before being ultimately acquitted and Malcolm Knox, the journalist who set out to explore the issue in the first place. To switch between the two perspectives, the page uses a swiping (or drag for desktop) gesture and display the face of the man you’re reading from in the bottom. It’s admittedly slightly gimnicky but I personally think it’s brilliant.

The burden of carrying an entire page alone

Here comes the bad part, single page website has limitations inherent to its solitary nature. They’re not gamebreaking and you can actually mitigate some of these limitations but they are always there. Some of these limitations include:

  • They are relatively slow and might take up ample resources

Obviously if your single page website consists solely of text, this won’t be a problem but chances are that it will include other things so how fast it will load should always be taken into consideration. One of the ways you could mitigate this is by using trigger scrolling where more contents are loaded only when specific conditions are triggered. There are automatic triggers and manual triggers.

Automatic triggers can be seen with Buzzfeed’s main page, where if you scroll down, the website will automatically loads more content at the bottom of the page. Manual triggers can be seen with Techcrunch’s main page, where if you scroll down, you’ll see a button that says load more and only if you tap or click that button will the website loads more content. This way, users can still load the main page quickly but the more contents are loaded, the page will take up more and more resources.

  • It’s not going to work for or with everything

To start with, an e-commerce website simply won’t work with this approach and even then, truly single page website is pretty rare. The Buzzfeed example above only uses the single page approach on its main page with each content transporting you to a different page. Techcrunch is close to being a purely single page website, with most contents being loaded within the same page but some, like the Events section, still takes you to a different page.

Still, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use the single page approach; you just have to be rather smart on where to use it. The main page of your blog and any longform contents will work with this approach. Additionally, resumes and portfolios also work well with single page designs.

Final thoughts

Even though I greatly appreciate what single page design brings to the table, I also realize that it’s not good enough to actually replace what’s on the table. The multi page approach, even with its mobile-unfriendliness, still serves an important role in today’s internet. Instead of being the electric car of web development, single page website is more like a diesel engine. It has its own advantage over petrol but its drawbacks limits its usage and it’s now in a peaceful coexistence with petrol engines.

SEO vs. PPC: Is Organic SEO Better than PPC?

SEO tips

Business may have its ups and downs. Sometimes your business is selling more than what you have targeted, but sometimes you might find your business at a great disadvantage. Whatever the situation is, however, the key point in marketing your business is that you make sure your business be found by the people who need what you offer from your business. For that reason, you might want to consider using SEO services to make it happen. However, aside from SEO itself, there is another option for advertising called pay-per-click, known as PPC. Depending on your business and preference, you should know whether you have to choose PPC or SEO for boosting your website’s visibility on search engines. Want to know more about PPC and SEO? Keep reading to find out!

First of all, before we dive into this discussion, let’s talk about the definition of PPC and SEO.   PPC has advertising programs provided by Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing and many more by paying for traffic. PPC allows you to display ads in the sponsored results section of each search engine’s results page. The payment is based on how competitive your chosen keyword is, whenever a viewer clicks through from your ad to your website, you have to pay a fee from each clicks.

If you prefer the alternative way, you can build traffic naturally for free by obtaining high rankings in search results and the listings will be displayed next to the sponsored results. This, if you haven’t known it yet, is known as organic SEO result. However, since the budget you require for SEO is not nearly as expensive as PPC, of course, many business owners use SEO instead of PPC, which can be more difficult for you, as you will have to face the tight competition between you and the other business owners. Also, another thing about SEO that makes some business owners switch to PPC is because since the result is natural, it is going to take long for them to see the effects. So, with that being said, does it mean that PPC is the better choice? It is not necessarily true.

When you are choosing between SEO and PPC, you first need to determine what size advertising budget your business can support. You can set your daily spending limit as low as you would like it to be, but it can be a good idea to start with a minimum of $5 to $10 a day. If you don’t have the budget to commit to advertising, you’ll need to stick with free SEO methods.

However, if you have the budget, with PPC you will get:

  • Faster testing
  • Protection from SEO algorithm updates

Doing SEO may cost less than doing PPC, and as long as it takes, the results will be satisfying in the long run if done properly. PPC, on the other hand, is mostly used based on how competitive your business is in the industry. There are major big names in the same industry that may always be placed on the first page of Google no matter how hard you work on SEO. If that’s the case, and you happen to have the budget to support it, that’s when you know it’s time to use PPC.

If your business is not highly competitive with your competitors in the same industry, we suggest that you stick to organic SEO. Even if you have the budget, remember to always plan more strategically and think wisely before deciding which one to choose.