Design for Change

Known has the “King of Web Standards” and a longtime hero of ours is Jeffrey Zeldman. He’s one of the brains behind WordPress, the blogging software launched in 2003 that has evolved into a popular publishing system for websites. Jeffrey once said…

“Your company’s survival is tied to the ability of the products it makes to work in situations you haven’t imagined, and on devices that don’t yet exist.”

When we’re asked to design a “responsive design” website, we still start with words. Before one pixel of design is undertaken, we have done our research on all their competitors and listed the top keywords for our customer’s industry. We list what sticks out in our research, we come to understand our customer’s pain points, we search for the “big idea” for the messaging, we list all the reasons why someone wouldn’t purchase from this customer and overcome possible objections, we describe products and services honestly and in process we find our voice and craft the entire message for the website’s content. 

Next we create the brand message. Starting with the current logo, we create a brand messaging style guide based on the website’s copy. We gather all the social proof like customer testimonials and case studies and optimize the images to look great on all device sizes such as desktops and mobile phones.

Copy dictates design, not the other way around.

Because we started with the end in mind, we have all the content for the entire website and have created a site map. Every paragraph has a goal and a call to action and the content document is packed with relevant SEO words and phrases. Then we build the wireframe to define the layout structure on the many device form factors (2-dimensional sizes). On the left side of the wireframe is the site design as it will be viewed on computers; the right side is for tablets and mobile devices. Saved as a PDF, this document serves as a “go by” during coding and development.

But what about the future of websites? The answer may surprise you. Look at that growth of wearable devices like the Apple watch. We already use responsive design to translate websites on smaller screen sizes like tablets and mobile phones, but our wearable device is already forcing web designers to redefine responsive design. It’s more intuitive and less distracting to glance at a device on your wrist. Watch for it. The Internet of Things (IoT) is on the move!

Web Design Trends for 2021

It’s a tradition at ActiveCanvas to share with our clients and readers what website design industry “experts” believe will trend for the coming year. Some of these trends stick around and become part of the fabric of online design, while others fade into oblivion. Both the winners and the losers give us useful insight. So here are our top 5 for 2021 with our favorite trend rated #1.

#1 Dark Mode. Dark mode is how Apple changed the way we see our screens. Instead of a white background with dark text, users have the option to switch to light text on a dark background to preserve battery life and reduce blue light exposure. If you want to convey caring, try Dark Mode. 

#2 Minimalism. These sites use basic shapes, clean, usually sans serif text, limited color palettes, and an abundance of empty space to put the focus on content and functionality. The minimalist style trend is not new, but because it’s such a strong factor in boosting SEO and extending audience reach these functional and inclusive sites are still madly popular. If you want to be trusted, use Minimalism.

#3 Illustration. These sites use graphic design and hand-drawn elements to communicate in place of photographic elements. The illustrations aren’t always accurate either — drawings of people in odd shapes and sizes are known as “odd bodies” and hand-drawn shapes have little or no symmetry. If you want to convey diversity, freedom, and individualism; try Illustration. 

#4 Organic Design. Maybe a year of isolation indoors has us begging for the look and feel of the outdoors because a new and growing trend uses nature for inspiration. Organic designs use warm, subtle, earthy colors, natural shapes and textures…a favorite choice for businesses connected to our environment and sustainability. If you want to convey health, wellness or beauty, think Organic.

#5 Anti-Design. These quirky websites defy balance and good taste by using asymmetrical layouts, distortion, odd layering patterns, and really terrible color palettes. About the only positive thing about this new style is that it does make a site stand about. If you want to be talked about, use Anti-Design.

You are invited to join us for the ride as we plunge into 2021 with open minds and a commitment to excellence. For our part, we promise to continue building solid, hand-coded websites using best practices for page speed, user experience, and conversion.

The Power of Color

Color plays a significant role for the human brain. Color generates emotions, creates ideas, expresses messages, and sparks interest. Red says stop and green says to go, and together red and green are seen as Christmas. Bright colors set a happy and positive mood, whereas dark colors project the opposite. Light colors appear closer, whereas dark colors appear to recede. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow show excitement, optimism, and creativity, whereas cool colors like green, blue and gray symbolize security, calmness, and harmony.

“All colors arouse specific associative ideas…”

Yves Klein, French artist

Colors chosen for a website use the psychology of color to provide strength and relevance to the design. It’s never about choosing colors simply because they look nice and you like them — it’s about choosing colors that will generate the desired response from your marketing materials and help create a connection with customers. 

Here are some surprising pairs that work:

brown and orange

Real Estate
Brown and Orange
Why? Associated with home, hearth, and stability.
Says: At home I’m safe and comfortable.

Financial Services
Green and Blue
Why? Commands authority and inspires trust.
Says: My money is safe here.

Home Services
Black and Burnt Sienna
Why? Down to earth values, authoritative.
Says: I trust these people

Health Products
Brown and Lime Green
Why? Reflective of nature and healing
Says: I feel a calm confidence

Entertainment
Orange and Turquoise
Why? Playful and energetic
Says: I feel good about this service

Want to learn more about the psychology of color? 

Need a logo makeover, but don’t know where to start? Just send us a link to your current logo, whether or not it was designed in 1920 or 2020. We’ll assess whether it’s aesthetically tired or timeliness, how it tests on the myriad of technological devices that showcase your logo online, and analyze the color psychology from an outsider’s point of view. It may need only slight shifts, a simple refresh, or a whole new makeover. Don’t you think your business is worth finding out?! Analyze My Logo