There are website design staples that have become more and more respected as time has gone by (like adaptive design or responsive design), and then web design trends that have decreased in popularity. Part of this is due to the fact that some design styles can seriously bolster various industries—while others may drag them down in Google search results. Whether your niche is fitness, finance, relationship advice or creating cat memes, knowing proven web design tips for niche industries is critical. Remember: If you don’t know these white hat tricks, some of your competition surely will.
Just like as with other practices like content marketing, sometimes you need “evergreen” approaches in how to design your site. This works especially well for those webmasters who don’t have the time to update their sites often. It’s also understandable for those who don’t necessarily have the budget to pay for costly web designers on a frequent basis. However, if cost is the sole reason you’re not regularly updating your website, consider transitioning to a DIY platform with free themes like WordPress. No matter how “behind the times” you think you are, WordPress and its competitors are easy to use and dole out some gorgeous freebie themes for the taking.
Ready to take your web design strategy to the next level? Here’s how:
1. Embrace responsive design for desktop and mobile
Both of these sound like big buzzwords, but they’re actually pretty self-explanatory. Responsive design (RD) is a means of designing a website so it responds well and quickly no matter which platform or gadget is being used. Those DIY platforms like Wix and WP come with a responsive design built in, so you can create it and forget about it. Otherwise, make sure you hire a web designer who prioritizes RD. Giving a website an almost tactile or interactive feel can get a user interested in even something that might not necessarily be thrilling, such as tools like retirement calculators.
Having an aggressive mobile design strategy can be tricky and may not be for every niche business. Not every company needs a responsible design for their mobile app, either. However, if you have something like a financial site that you want a user to pay attention to and interact with, they might find it a lot easier to navigate with a responsive mobile design. Take an informal poll of your customers or engage in a focus group to find out what they want.
2. Go basic with nav bars
Your navigation bar or “nav bar” is exactly what it sounds like. It’s that bar (well, usually a bar) on a website where there are tabs for “services,” “about us,” “contact,” and the like. People intuitively look to certain spaces on a website for this, almost always at the header or on either side. Some websites try to get creative and “hide” their nav bar or have it swimming all over the place. Don’t do that. Usability and convenience always trump creativity. This can be especially true with niche industries where your customers aren’t usually at your site to entertain themselves.
3. The big image trend
A seemingly easy way to freshen up your website is by using a big image as your background. It’s easy to swap out so it looks like your website is always new and is really trending right now. However, big images can also cause big problems: Namely site speed and improper loading. Even if your RD has ensured that the image shows up correctly on every platform, that doesn’t necessarily address the speed issue.
A number of things impact loading speed, whether it be the quality of your web host to Wi-Fi connection. However, really big images can also slow things down. The New York Times also recently reported, Google researchers found people won’t wait longer than the blink of an eye beyond what they expect for a page to load. That big image, if sized incorrectly, could lose you visitors and time spent on the site.
An overarching theme to remember here is to keep things simple, clean and easily accessible. Clean up your website, stay abreast of and utilize search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, and remember that no website truly stays “optimized” for long. It takes regular maintenance and updates to ensure your website is at its best. Tips, tricks, and hacks come and go, but having a foundation based on quality, whether it’s content or design, is a principle that isn’t going anywhere.
Originally by: John Rampton from Forbes.