7 Core Elements of Modern Web Design

In 2020, the world has gone online. That means people are using websites for everything from grocery delivery to financial transactions to streaming BTS all day. Since users spend a vast segment of their time and attention on the internet, they expect their patronage to be repaid with optimal online experiences.

Web design is at the center of providing a satisfactory online experience. Modern web design has come a long way. Websites cannot afford to look like the Classified section of a newspaper. No site stands a chance if it cannot look sophisticated and function flawlessly.

Effective web design does not just create visual appeal but also implements favorable SEO optimization techniques to help the site rank higher on Google searches. While there are hundreds of design elements to choose from, a few of them are indispensable.

This article will narrow down these elements to seven essentials, AKA, the elements that must be fixtures in every web design blueprint.

Table of Contents

  1.  Mobile-Friendly Layout
  2.  Clean and Bold Typography
  3.  Hamburger Menus
  4.  Optimization for Speed
  5. White Space
  6.  SEO Optimization
  7.  Cross-browser and device compatibility

1. Mobile-Friendly Layout

In the second quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51.53% of global website traffic. This trend is only set to increase as more people take to their phones as their primary source of online access. Consequently, a mobile-friendly layout lies at the core of modern web design.

Primarily, a mobile-friendly layout refers to the usage of responsive website design. Responsive web design refers to a design strategy that lets websites ‘adapt’ to different screen sizes without compromising usability and user experience. Text, UI elements, and images are rescaled and resize depending on the viewport.

85% of adults think that a company’s website, when viewed on a mobile device, should be as good or better than its desktop website. That means any website not incorporating responsive design will offer an unsatisfactory user experience, leading to loss of traffic, revenue, and credibility.

2. Clean and Bold Typography

The modern website design must feature safe, clean, and bold typography – a pillar of minimalist design.

Clean typography must include the following:

  • Appropriately sized text, which is usually larger than 16px
  • Black/gray typography, in accordance with the background hues or images
  • Web-standard fonts
  • Adequate space between lines to facilitate easy reading

Most organizations use a particular font or typography as part of their brand identity. For example, The New Yorker uses Adobe Caslon to create its highly recognizable typeset. Consider adopting a font for your website that will remain consistent across pages and other online resources you may provide.

3. Hamburger Menus

Most websites offer a long menu of options and features for users to choose from. While this may make for more straightforward navigation (since the user can go directly to whatever option they want from the home page), it also takes up a lot of screen space – especially on mobile devices.

Solve this quickly with a hamburger menu – a button that opens up to a broader menu or navigation drawer. This saves space, keeps the interface clean and uncluttered without removing navigational ease for website visitors.

4. Optimization for Speed

Web pages that load within five seconds experience a bounce rate of 38%. A 100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7%. Numbers like these should depict the significance of speed in modern web design – both on desktop and mobile devices.

In the age of instant gratification, websites are expected to load immediately, or they will be abandoned. Fortunately, building a website design aligned with high page load speed is not a difficult task. A few simple steps to achieve this would be:

  • Optimize all images, regardless of size.
  • Choose a robust hosting environment, be it VPS hosting, shared hosting, or even a server dedicated to your site.
  • Use compression to keep files smaller.
  • Minimize HTTP requests in Chrome’s Developer Tools.

Refer to this piece on how to increase website speed. Implement the steps outlined – most of which can be done with minimal effort. With the addition of every design element, ask the question, “Will this slow down the website?”

5. White Space

As an element of minimalist design, white space is essential for modern homepage design. Since the internet subjects every user to an infinite barrage of information, they can quickly reach a point of intellectual exhaustion. Using a balance of white space and content ensures that the site looks clean, organized, readable, and easy to navigate. Let your website breathe.

6. SEO Optimization

Modern website design elements can go a long way in improving a site’s SEO-based ranking. Quite a few of them are invisible, such as meta tags, heading tags, and other HTML coding hacks that belong to the website’s back-end code. Insert, tweak, and optimize these elements so that the website can reap the full benefits of Google’s SEO algorithm.

7. Cross-browser and device compatibility

Every design element being coded into a site needs to be displayed and function perfectly on every device and browser that the site is viewed with. The only way to achieve this level of consistency is through iterative testing on real browsers and devices. That means every batch of design pushed into staging must be verified on real browser-device-OS combinations.

Unless testers and designers have an in-house real device lab they can access 24X7, they must leverage cloud-based testing solutions that provide the same function. In that case, they simply have to upload the software and run the necessary tests on real devices.

Look through a few modern website design examples, and notice how the pointers outlined above play a role in making them highly functional and appealing. Since every website must compete with thousands, sometimes millions of options online, it cannot afford to release anything but the most effective and aesthetically pleasing design. When discussing design plans, use these guidelines as a set of best practices, and continue to build creatively without excluding these stipulations.

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