Web Design and Development in 2018: What You Need To Know

By Jamie McSloy / January 9, 2018
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What You Need To Know About Web Design and Development In 2018

You’ve probably read the title and are thinking, “Jamie… you know nothing about web design. Look at this place!”

You’d be right on that one. Over the Christmas period, I decided to upgrade this place, and so I’m talking from a place of hard introspection.

Let’s assume you want to offer a web design service in 2018. Or maybe you just want to build your own websites to make money from.

What do you want to do and where can you go wrong?

I’ll answer those questions in this article. But let’s get practical straight away and break down what good web design is.

What Is Good Web Design Anyway?

There are three elements to good web design. Luckily, the world takes care of two of them for you, assuming you’re not looking to build the next Google.

Those three elements are:

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  1. User Experience
  2. Functionality
  3. Website Structure

Let’s talk about these three in turn.

User Experience

When people refer to user experience, they’re generally referring to how nice a site looks – as well as whether things are clearly labelled and the distance between arriving on the site through to leaving the site is a pleasant experience.

This is user experience in a nutshell, but a lot of it revolves around creating the right site structure. We’ll get to that soon.

I’m going to recommend that unless you have a good reason, you should use WordPress and get a premium theme that’s suited to your needs.

I recommend Thrive Themes for authority sites and other content based businesses.

They’re not so hot for certain things, and so you’ll want to shop around. By certain things, I mean I don’t use Thrive Themes for E-Commerce and I don’t use them for membership forums.

For membership forums, I use the Kleo theme and for E-Commerce sites, I’ll browse around ThemeForest until I find one that fits what I’m looking for.

If you get a good theme, then you don’t have to worry too much about your site looking nice. Just follow what other players in your niche do, and you’ll be ok.

Functionality

Stick with WordPress. Let me repeat: Stick With WordPress.

Because some will try and point out obvious exceptions to the rule, I will add a little nuance to the web functionality argument here.

In 99% of cases, no matter what you think about your business idea, it’s not so complex that it can’t run off a WordPress platform. Or any other established platform with thousands of developers worldwide that can not only build your site and fix your site, but can also implement custom functionality later should you need it.

If you are looking to build a web development service, then learn to develop WordPress websites. That’s where most of the work will be. Failing that, pick a similarly popular service and learn how that works. Then build extensions and become the best in that area.

It’s far more useful and profitable to be a theme developer for WordPress than it is to develop your own CMS unless you have some unique niche or angle.

For those of you who are looking to build a website for your own business, don’t use a custom CMS. It’s a waste of time and will be a waste of money. With WordPress, you can fix most problems yourself by Googling, it does most of the hard work for functionality itself (you can run e-commerce, authority sites, member sites, social networks and more on it) and if you need any custom work, you can go to Upwork, Fiverr or wherever to find people who can implement practically anything for you.

Site Structure

Most issues people have with functionality and user experience are actually site structure issues. It’s why when you look at the web design topics on this site, they’re rarely about the design itself.

When people have given me feedback on any of my sites, it’s always, “Make something easier to find” or “have a Start Here” section or something. This isn’t the above two points: It’s about the structure.

Namely, people are on the site and can’t find what they’re looking for.

The good thing is that this isn’t a technological issue. It’s a simple case of saying, “Right… people are arriving here and need to get there. What can I do?”

Getting this right can account for a lot of deficiencies in the above two things. The other day, I mentioned an associate of mine with literally the simplest design ever. It’s basically a blank page. User experience is basic, but the site is really strong and converts highly because at the top, bottom and throughout each page, you’re given a clear, “DO THIS” and “GO HERE NEXT.”

If you do the above, then you can have the simplest design and most basic of functionality. This also plays into our internet pirate, direct response marketing hands, because rudimentary direct response knowledge will help you create websites which take a person where you want them to go.

Final Thoughts

Let’s distil the ramble down into some workable action points.

  1. If you’re thinking of offering services, it’s better to add unique things to existing and popular platforms rather than try and create something new
  2. IF you’re building something using said platforms, pick ones which are easy to use, easy to fix and easy to add to

Once you’ve gotten that far, three more things to consider are:

  1. User Experience – make sure your site looks nice. Best bet here is to take what you like from the professional players in your market
  2. Functionality – everything has to work. If you stick to solid content management systems then most of the work is done for you. For everything else, there’s Fiverr.
  3. Site Structure – this is down to you. Think about where your readers come from, how they enter your site and where you want them to end up.

If you can do those things, then you will have a successful website in 2018 and beyond. You will also be able to provide a valuable service to the countless people who don’t have the above. Bear that in mind too.


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