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Now that the dust has settled after some extended debate, it seems clear that responsive design is here to stay. It won’t last forever, but it certainly isn’t a flashy trend that is going to fade away soon. It makes sense responsive design would catch on like it has, as it makes designing for the multitude of devices used to access the internet much easier than ever before.

Almost as many people accessing the internet right this moment are doing so using a smartphone or tablet, but they aren’t all using the same devices. A normal website designed to look great on a desktop won’t look good on a smartphone, but similarly a site designed to work well on the new iPhone won’t have the same results on a Galaxy Note 3.

This problem has two feasible solutions for designers. Either you can design multiple versions of a website, so that there is a workable option for smartphones, tablets, and desktops, or you can create a responsive website which will look good on every device. Both options require you to test your site on numerous devices to ensure it actually works great across the board, but a responsive site means you only have to actually design one site. The rest of the work is in the tweaking to optimize the site for individual devices.

That all explains why designers love responsive design as a solution for the greatly expanding internet browsing options, but we have to please other people with our designs as well. Thankfully, responsive design has benefits for everyone involved. The design solution is even great for search engine optimization, which is normally not the case with design and optimization working together. Saurabh Tyagi explains how responsive design benefits SEO as much as it does consumers.

Google Favors Responsive Sites

SEO professionals spend a lot of their time and efforts simply trying to appease the Google Gods, or trying to follow the current best practices while also managing to outplay their competition. Google has officially included responsive design into its best practice guidelines, as well as issuing public statements calling for websites to adopt the design strategy, so naturally SEOs have come to love it.

One of the biggest reasons Google loves responsive sites is that it allows websites to use the same URL for a mobile site as they do for a desktop site, instead of redirecting users. A site with separate URLs will have a harder time gaining in the rankings than one with a single functional URL.

Improves the Bounce Rate

Getting users to stay on your page is actually easier than you might think. If you represent yourself honestly to search engines, and offer a functional, readable, and generally enjoyable website, users that click on your page are likely to stay there. By ensuring your website is functional and enjoyable on nearly every device, you ensure users are less likely to hit the back button.

Save on SEO

Having a separate mobile site from your desktop site means double the SEO work. Optimization is neither cheap, fast, or easy, so it doesn’t make sense to waste all that extra time and work on basically duplicate efforts. Instead of having to optimize two sites, responsive websites allow SEOs to put all their efforts into one site, saving you money and providing a more focused optimization effort.

Avoids Duplicate Content

When you’re having to manage running two sites for the same business, it is highly likely you will eventually end up accidentally placing duplicate content on one of the sites. If this becomes a regular problem, you can expect punishments from search engines which could be easily avoidable by simply having one site. Responsive design also makes it easier to direct users to the right content. One of Google’s biggest mobile pet peeves of the moment is the practice of consistently redirecting mobile users to the front page of the mobile site, rather than to the mobile version of the content they asked for. Responsive design avoids these types of issues altogether.

Retro Icon

Source: Designrfix

Web design has a love of all things retro. You can’t scan the web for long before you come across a site with faux wood textures or faded and breezy images influenced by the aesthetics of another time. These old styles are even large parts of current design trends such as flat design and the new found focus on typography. Designers are constantly taking the old and turning it new again.

Some choose to lean more heavily into the retro styles than others. While many flat designs owe debts of gratitude to minimalist styles of the 50’s and 60’s, you usually wouldn’t confuse the two. Others however do their best to emulate the styles of earlier times as closely as they can, but translated into a digital medium.

Going retro is a popular style for many brands and artists, and it isn’t any more difficult to achieve than most other current design aesthetics. Designrfix recently shared tips to really get the look and feel of older times, if you want to try it out for yourself.

Think Retro – The first step is getting inspiration. It can be difficult to detach yourself from your contemporary ideas of good style, and the best way to do that is go directly to the source. Search out old magazines and newspapers, any sort of graphic media from the time you can find. There is a huge amount of it online, and you’ll be able to get inspired within just a couple searches.

Focus on Simple Shapes – Vintage and retro styles are characterized by simplicity. Designs of the past relied on impact to grab attention, and this was usually achieved by using very simple shapes like circles which demand attention. Consider a circle surrounded by decoration, or blocky and heavy arrangements.

Limit Your Use of Color – Modern designers have it easy. We can use any assortment of colors we want on the web, even down to slight shading choices. Designers of the past were limited by the expense of full color printing, so they often relied on two-toned coloring to come up with colorful designs without breaking the bank. Using black-white, orange-yellow, or cream-brown color combinations will immediately make viewers think of older printing styles.

Retro Typefaces and Fonts – As previously mentioned, big typography in retro styles is an absolute necessity of a vintage site. The style has grown some legs on its own, but it still is a defining trait of older styles. You need to choose a font reflective of the era you want to reflect. Using the wrong typeface can seem anachronistic or lazy, so take your time and get it right. Check what designers were using in the era you’re emulating and find something similar online. It shouldn’t be hard to do so.

Borders – Borders have always been a big part of design, and ornamental borders were definitely a big part of making older designs attention grabbing. Frame your images and content in borders and simple shapes and you’re site will already look pretty retro.

Badges – Interestingly, if you look at websites with retro designs, you tend to see lots of badges as buttons, even though badges weren’t actually a big part of designs in the past. Still, these badges remind users of county-fair days and older times, while also standing out on the page and drawing attention. It is a simple addition that works better than it should.

Using the Right Texture – Well used textures can make a boring page feel stoic and formal. They can entirely define how a page feels, and can certainly make a page feel more retro. The trick is subtlety and integrating the texture into the layout, not simply laying it over things.

Source: WikiCommons

Source: WikiCommons

Responsive web design isn’t quite the standard yet, but it certainly shows no sign of going away. It is currently the best solution for the majority of website owners attempting to make their site work well for people accessing it, no matter where they are coming from.

A growing minority of internet users are using smartphones and tablets to browse, and especially with Google’s push to punish sites with poorly configured or non-existing mobile sites, there isn’t much time left before site owners will have to choose between going responsive or creating a separate mobile site. To help you choose, Designrfix shared the latest facts about responsive web design.

  • Display Doesn’t Affect Load Times – Responsive design largely changes the appearance of sites depending on the device being used to access them. They don’t really affect what is actually loaded when a page is brought up, and so it doesn’t really do much to load times. In other words, you can’t rely on responsive design to “dumb down” and speed up your site on slower machines or lesser resolutions.
  • Search Engines Like It – Google has actively supported responsive design as the best solution to going mobile, mostly because it makes the job easier for its crawlers. The webmaster guidelines for Google even address the issue saying, “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.”
  • It Directly Affects Your SEO Campaign – Running a separate mobile site rather than simply adapting responsive design basically requires running two SEO campaigns for the same site. With the ability to design for all devices with one site, comes the ability to only have one SEO strategy for the site as a whole.
  • Most Sites Can Be Turned Responsive – This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but for the most part site owners don’t have to create an entirely new site design when they decide to create a responsive design. Instead, most sites can be converted, saving over half the total cost of a full redesign.
  • There Is a Lot of Testing – The main thing people forget to mention when they support responsive design is that designing for all devices means testing for all devices. Going responsive does save you time in the actual design process, but the best rule of thumb for responsive design is if you haven’t tested on a device, your site probably doesn’t work perfectly on it.

I fully predict responsive design to become the standard for all website design in the future because it simply makes more sense for the large number of site owners out there, especially those with limited resources who want to only manage one version of their site.

Website designers share a lot of information with each other, but there are some hard truths many designers still don’t seem to understand. Sometimes, people just don’t want to hear the truth, or at least it isn’t easy to accept. Designrfix shared some of those things designers don’t like to talk about, but its best you hear them anyways.

  1. You Can’t Innovate All The Time – The large majority of web designers get into the field because we love to be creative and push our skills, but for the most part we are at the will of our clients, and sometimes they don’t want to push the envelope. Many clients would much rather play it safe and use established design solutions. There are times when you’ll be able to use your creativity, but it may not be your next job you take on.
  2. Every Aspect of the Design Matters – This can’t be stressed enough. If you slack on a single part of your design, it will be the aspect your client and users fixate on and hate. A website is like a puzzle and a sub-par piece of the site is like a missing piece in the puzzle.
  3. Hosting Consideration Matters – Without a host, you don’t have a site. Hosting considerations need to be a part of your strategy from the pitch to the finished project. You have to maintain your host to be able to deliver content to the public, so make sure you choose wisely.
  4. Trends Are Not Our Friends – Design follows trends like leaves get caught up in the wind. With every passing gust, we get blown in a new direction. Staying up to date and creating modern designs is usually good, especially in a commercial field where becoming outdated is career death. But, if you spend all your time following what is popular, you won’t ever be ahead of the curve. Try something new. Risks may scare some clients, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try something new in your free time.
  5. Users Matter More Than You – As a designer it is easy to get caught up in your own wants and preferences, but it is important to remember you aren’t the target demographic most of the time. Your design serves to solve your client and your users’ needs, not to be your own personal creation.

WordPress has gone from a simple blogging platform into one of the most popular tools for sharing a variety of different web content. We use it, and chances are so do many other websites and blogs you visit. Whole sites can be run with the platform, but WordPress’ heart will always be with blogging.

With the huge rise in popularity, and extensive fleshing out of WordPress, the bar has been risen in regards to what visitors demand of a blog’s look and layout. Ugly layouts diminish credibility in the eye’s of the viewer, plus no one wants to stay on a blog long enough to read even the best content if it hurts their eyes or sense of taste. If you are new to blogging, but want to get your page up to the level visitors desire, Jo Stevenson offers a few tips for how to get the jump on WordPress blogging.

One of the key moments in establishing how well your blog will look comes with choosing a template. Pretty much no one builds their blog from the ground up. There is a whole community out there dedicated to creating and sharing templates, often for free, and unless you have been coding for years, this will be almost any blogger’s first stop. The trick is finding one that suits the content and focus of your blog. News or politics blogs should look formal and authoritative, while cooking blogs might be a lively green or warm red palette with welcoming fonts.

Once you have a template, it is time to begin refining the structure of your blog. Directing the reader’s eye where you want it to go is essential in keeping their interest, and if the wrong thing dominates the screen, the reader may not be able to find the content you want them to see. Stevenson suggests video-heavy blogs would likely benefit from single column formats, while text-laden blogs would likely benefit from giving the copy room to breathe with a two or three column layout.

Most important for making a blog with a look that fits it perfectly is to learn to code, even if you just learn a little bit. Just a small amount of HTML and CSS knowledge will help you customize a template to make it your own, and eventually you may learn enough to design an entire site from scratch.

Almost every designer has ended up working with a bad client. We all try to avoid it, but sure enough, eventually you end up with a client that will drive you up the wall. Wouldn’t it be great if you could easily pick out which clients are going to be more hassle than they are worth?

Justin Spencer has created a list of tell-tale signs at Designrfix that a client might not be worth the money. It is important to note, a bad client is not just one that doesn’t pay you on time. Slow payment, while highly frustrating, is not always the sign of a bad client, especially if they are a small company.

Instead, bad clients are those that create completely unnecessary problems as professionals. During negotiations to work with these types of clients, they will often do things like understating the difficulty of a project to lower fees. They could also try to get you to work at low prices by promising they will give you lots of work in the future.

Spencer has plenty more signs that will help clue you into a bad client. If you see more than one of these issues early on, seriously consider if the work you are going to put in for them will be worth the headaches later on.