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Flat as a Fiddle: 4 Benefits of Flat Web Design

Flat as a Fiddle- 4 Benefits of Flat Web Design

Just like the world of high fashion, web design has gone through several different trends during its relatively short existence. There was a time that simple flash animation was a pretty common sight on the internet. At the dawn of the 21st century, skeumorphism, a design language in which digital interface is made to closely mimic its real-life counterpart, a digital bookstore made to look like a bookshelf for example, briefly emerged as a leading trend before the world decided that a digital interface being limited to earthly restrictions kind of misses the point.

As a response to skeumorphism, the early 2010s ushered in a design trend that is still prevalent in today’s internet, referred to as flat design. Flat might be an adjective those in the music industry would like to avoid but it is actually one of the more functionally and aesthetically pleasing trend in web design. If you’ve ever used the oft-maligned Windows 8 OS, then you’re already familiar with how flat design looks like.

Flat design as a functional aesthetic

Flat design takes its name from the judicious use of two-dimensional characteristics, employing simple flat shapes as building blocks, contrasting color palette and noticeable typography to ensure a clean and minimalist interface. Flat design put its focus on the user’s experience. It aims to streamline user’s experience in order to provide optimum usability while still maintaining an aesthetically pleasing look.

Now, it’s true that the Windows 8 wasn’t favorably viewed by both the public and critics when it was first released but that’s more because it wasn’t a particularly good fit for mouse & keyboard users. Use it on a tablet or any touch-capable device and its brilliance shines through. Flat design came in part because of the world’s continuous shift into smartphones. With a much reduced screen real estate, web designers have to come up with a way to simplify navigation for users.

To do this, they look at the concept of minimalism and applied that similar line of thinking into the design of a user interface. As a result, flat design is stripped off of any frivolous features, displaying only the necessary elements for navigation to users. Using this approach results in a number of benefits for both the users and designers, functionally and aesthetically as well, which we’ll explore further in the article.

It’s highly flexible and modular

Because flat design relies on simple rectangular shapes and typography, it is highly modifiable by nature. It employs a grid-based design where things can be easily added or resized according to the whims of the designer, so long it doesn’t interfere with the user’s experience. The Windows 8 start menu and the pinned tiles in the Windows 10 is an example of this modular nature.

Content is still the focus on the modern internet and having an interface that allows you to mess with how that content is displayed without wrecking your website is a highly desirable characteristic for designers.

It fits perfectly with responsive design

Like what’s been stated above, Microsoft’s idea with Windows 8 is that it aims to present roughly the same experience to both smartphone users and traditional desktop users. As a result, Windows Phone 8, the mobile OS that was launched concurrently with the desktop OS, has the same interface as you’d find on desktop, only with slightly different layout and placement.

Because the interface is made up of smaller building blocks of rectangular shapes, adapting this interface to a smaller screen and different orientations (portrait and landscape) is simply a matter of resizing and placing these blocks differently, just like Lego pieces. This meshes well with the concept of responsive web design, in which a webpage adapts itself to the size and orientation of the screen it’s being displayed on to present the optimum experience for users.

It utilizes clean and functional design

Since it mostly relies on two main elements, rectangular shapes and typography, flat design won’t be confusing for users. The website for Wyss Institute, a bio-engineering research institute in America, employs a flat design for its main page, with news arranged in blocks akin to Windows 8.

To a lesser extent, the collection of information spread underneath, acting as introductory passages to what exactly the Wyss Institute stands for, employs a grid-based design as well. Each segment is placed within their own rectangular area. Flat design doesn’t always have to conform to the same uniform design language; brands can still build on the same principle of clean and functional design without looking similar to each other.

It is now an industry standard

While the unique applications vary from websites to websites, flat design works using the same underlining example. Using the same basic design saves users time by not having to adapt to another design language when they hop from one website to another. Think of it this way, if traffic lights around the world uses different colors instead of the same combination of red, yellow, and green, motorists would have problem when moving to another city.

Ask anyone who’s had to switch from right-hand drive vehicles to left-hand drive vehicles and I’m pretty sure cases of them opening the door on the passenger’s side instead of the driver’s side is pretty common.

Admittedly, flat design doesn’t give a lot of wiggle room for designers to be creative with their design, limiting customization to little more than colors and layouts. I prefer to consider this a good thing though. Brands should flex their creativity on contents while putting functionality considerations in their interface above all else. Flat web design achieves that goal while still enabling designers to achieve an aesthetically pleasing look, if done correctly.

The Not-So-Smart Moves that Smart People Shouldn’t Have Made in SEO

SEO mistakes you should avoid

There are many business owners nowadays and they keep increasing in number. Each and every one of them wants the same thing; success. They may have learned about business, they may have attended business school – even some of them may have gone to the same school, but somehow their business’ progress may not turn out to be the same. Some fail, some grow. That being said, it is only natural for a business to be in an up-and-down situation. However, if you are a business owner, would you let your business keep going down? Well, we are living in a world where everything changes for better or worse. There will always be cool new things in the future that will support what have been made in the past or the present.

In the business world, there are many components that can support the progress of a business. One of them is Search Engine Optimisation, or better known as SEO. SEO is a business ‘instrument’ that can help people find your business by increasing or boosting your online visibility through your website. Many business owners hire SEO companies to do SEO services for them so that their business can grow. However, many of them too, may have chosen the wrong people to do that, which led to SEO’s dumb mistakes that resulted in unwanted situation in their business. Identify what kind of SEO mistakes that can lead to failures, only in this article. Keep reading to find out!

Too much keyword stuffing

Back then, using keyword stuffing as much as possible could really get you ranked high on search engines. However, having too many keywords being placed all over the content or articles can make your content or article lose its meaning and values, especially in the eyes of your readers or visitors. That being said, Google’s algorithm update called Panda has put an end to this in 2011. Since then, many SEO marketers in their right mind have stopped doing this mistake, and if there are some who is still doing this bad practice, you know what kind of SEO marketers they are.

The annoying pop-ups

Have you ever clicked a link to a website to see their content, only to be interrupted by a super annoying pop-up that was really disturbing you, especially if you wanted to know the information in the content? Yes, anyone who’s got pop-ups on their website will likely get their visitors annoyed by the sudden interruption covering the content they want to see.

Irrelevant inbound links

Yes, links are important. However, it’s not just any link. No matter how many backlinks you’ve got, if the majority of those links came from irrelevant sites, it would not give any values for your website. In fact, Google would find your website not credible and not deserving high rank in the future. Therefore, if you are doing any blog commenting, or writing articles, make sure you are doing that in relevant places and talking about relevant topics as well, so that you can get relevant backlinks.

Those mistakes mentioned above are not the only ones many SEO marketers have done. It may come off as trivial, but if you keep doing those mistakes, it would result in damage on your reputation in the long run. Keep in mind that when you are doing SEO, you should be patient and serious as well as focused, because it may take time for you to see results.

5 Essential Elements of Small Business Websites

The Important Elements for Small Business Websites

For a business to operate in 2018, having a website is indispensable. It’s not enough to have an Instagram page or a Facebook account; you need to have a space that you could call completely your own in addition to your actual place of business. That space is your website.

Gone are the days where you need substantial skills and experience in web development. The advent of user-friendly web builders means that you could set up a website of your own, for a fee, in the time it takes for me to finish this piece, perhaps even quicker. Contrary to popular belief, these do-it-yourself web builders actually enable you to design a website that wouldn’t look out of place sitting next to a graphic designer’s portfolio.

Small business websites, explained

When designing a website for a small or a new business, there are certain considerations you’ll have to take. You can’t just look at what the big companies are doing because you don’t have the kind of influence, recognition and standing that these companies have. For small businesses, website should act as an introductory course, communicating clearly just what does your business stands for and how you can help your potential customers.

What you should put in your website is obviously going to be informed by what kind of business you are running in the first place. The website for a design & marketing firm for example would be drastically different when compared to a boutique shoemaker but as each are small business websites, they inevitably share some common essential elements and features inherent to their nature.

A short introduction on your main or landing page

As stated before, websites act as an introductory course for small businesses. They tend to act as the first place of meeting between a business and their potential customer. It’s like whenever you enter a new job, the first thing you’ve got to do is introductions, to your new coworkers and superiors, to your new position and to the company itself.

Big companies don’t necessarily have to enunciate who they are because chances are, the public already know. Small businesses don’t have this luxury and as such, the main page of your website should communicate clearly who you are and what do you do. For businesses that deal in tangible products, displaying images of your product is one way of achieving that goal. For professional services, using a simple tagline would suffice.

Background details on your company and your value proposition could be tucked in further down the page but it is important that customers know what you’re selling the second they access your website.

A definitive guide on who you are and what your company stands for

Once the short introduction is out of the way, you still need to include detailed information on your company’s background in your website, usually in the ‘About Us’ page. Ideally, this page should include what vision you have for your business, what exactly drew you to be in the business and your value proposition, what makes you stand out against the competition.

Your customers are human, which means that they aren’t entirely objective. Sometimes, having the right personality and a vision that is in line with your potential customers is enough to nudge them over to your business.

Reviews and testimonials

Again, not a concern for major companies but could be a game changer for small businesses. Professional services rely on reviews and asking previous customers to put in a good word for you to display on your website has been a mainstay of small business websites. For business that deals in products, including a selection of photos of your products being used or worn by actual customers is a good idea.

A simple web address

There are a lot of ways you can be creative about your business but the URL is not one of them. Your URL doesn’t have to be an actual word, the important thing is that it’s short, uncomplicated, and easy to remember and preferably, has your company’s name in it. Dashes are a nightmare and ideally, it should not include a number unless it is a part of your company’s name. For domain, stick with .com as that’s the default setting for most users.

Easy-to-find contact information

This could be achieved in a number of ways. The most obvious recourse is to include a ‘Contact Us’ page and your social media links in a fixed navigation bar. A fixed navigation bar is a navigation bar that sticks in place even after the user scrolls down the page, which would ensure that you will always be easily reachable at all times. If you have a physical place of business, including your location in Google Maps is a preferable way than merely listing your address.

Additional considerations

In addition to the considerations listed above that are specific to small businesses, the usual best practices for general web design also apply. Mobile friendliness, text legibility, and minimalist design are some of the additional considerations you might want to think about. Remember, you only have one chance to nail your first impression and you definitely don’t want that impression to be a cheap mess of a website that is somewhat common for small businesses.