The proliferation of smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices through which visitors are accessing the Internet has been a game changer for web design.
In response to these changes, many event planning firms are in the process of updating the design of their websites. In fact, my company is about to embark on this journey. I've discovered that there have been a number of changes in web design standards and best practices since our last update. Today, I will share some of them with you, as well as some tools that are helpful when designing websites for the emerging technological landscape.
Layout: Layout best practices include using consistent navigation, headers and footers, incorporating social media buttons and ensuring that key service information, contacts and calls to action are visible "above the fold." This is the area that is visible without scrolling and it is the prime real estate on every web page. (Google has a tool to help web designers view content that appears above the fold.)
Responsive layouts or mobile optimized versions of websites are the keys to making websites accessible on a variety of devices. Here is a collection of resources that describe best practices for responsive web design.
Font Size: Best practices for fonts change every few years. Using a font size that is too large or too small can make a site appear dated. Due to the variety of devices with small screens, larger fonts are back in fashion. In fact, setting a fixed body font size is no longer recommended as it is important for users to have the option of re-sizing text to fit their devices. This can be a highly technical issues so here are some considerations when designing for mobile devices.
Font Type: About 9 font types have long been designated "web size." To ensure clarity and readability, when one factors mobile devices into the equation, it is best to stick with Arial/Helvetica, Courier/Courier New, Georgia, Times/Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS and Verdana. For more information, consult Choosing Fonts for Your Mobile Website.
Colors: Donald Peterson, a designer specializing in luxury websites, has a number of excellent tips in his Web Design Guide. With respect to color he highlights the fact that "color restraint in web design" makes websites appear more high end and luxurious. He recommends using a 2-color palette. A third accent color, if selected at all, should be used sparingly.
If you are going to use Flash, ensure that it is only used on part of your web page and that an alternative is provided for devices on which it can't be viewed.
Images: Using images that load quickly has always been a best practice for web design. Now that more visitors are accessing websites through mobile devices, optimization of images is even more crucial.
Tools like Smush.it by Yahoo and Online Image Optimizer by Dynamic Drive condense image files so that they can load quickly while maintaining a crisp clear look.
Other tools like Adaptive Images and Mobify can be extremely helpful for selecting images that render well on a variety of devices. Image Build Faster Mobile Websites With "Adaptive Images' provides a number of tips for web designers and website owners.
Clearly, there are many elements to consider when re-designing event planning websites and design is likely to continue to evolve for the foreseeable future.
Also consult, Does Website Design Influence Conference Decisions? on the Cvent Event Blog.