Minimalist Web Design: Where Less is More

By Sandra D’Souza

Do you want to turn website visitors into prospects? Then pare down your web design into the bare essentials to keep them engaged.

Nothing flashy, keep it classy

In our fast-paced world, consumers can easily purchase clothing, mobile devices, holiday experience – just about anything – with a push of a button. The Internet and developments of technology have made laborious tasks easier to do.

Preparing for a birthday party?

There’s an app for that!

Of course, this has fed the mindset that everything can be done in an instant. This is especially relevant when it comes to consuming information on the web. Anything that requires effort to access can easily be tossed aside, in favour of something that can be understood at a moment’s glance. The average attention span of a website user lasts for only four seconds in a study done this year. In 2013, the average was six seconds. Therefore, the attention span of a web site visitor is becoming shorter by the year, which means you only have so much room to keep them coming back for more.

With this in mind, how can you capture the interest of your site visitors? The answer lies in having a simple design, which requires less effort to comprehend. Some well-known news sites and brands have realised this, and revamped their website design accordingly. Time, for instance, broke down its interface into defined columns, big pictures and clean lines so that users could get around faster. Others have followed suit, because a minimal layout will be more convenient for users browsing through their mobile devices. On the part of the designers, a minimalist approach enables them to achieve economy to provide room for internet ads. And of course, a simple layout speeds up loading time.

A minimal design has a limited color palette, and uses up to three fonts only. Implement this and your website will go easy on the vision of your visitors. Power this up with great content, and remove the troublesome add-ons and elements that make your site slower to load. An effective design should unveil your site in a matter of 2.5 to 3.0 seconds to target the attention of your visitors.

In addition to plain aesthetics, your website also needs to be user-friendly. Make sure that your visitors could easily glide from one page to the next. Create straightforward menus, and your “About Us” page should be easily visible. Never forget to prominently include your contact details if you require customers to contact you; and make it more interesting with unique details about your company or your staff. Keep the information up-to-date so that your audience is continually enticed with something new with each visit.

A simple web design doesn’t mean it has to be boring at all. There are different ways to roll out a minimalist layout. You could use one colour in varying shades; go for a flat-look style or a tiled format to present content. Add images and videos to add visual enhancements as long as they are not disruptive, or a hindrance to the user’s experience. For videos, avoid using Flash as this prevents them from working properly on mobile devices.


Simplicity always works

What if a minimalist design is all it takes to turn visitors into patrons? It might be time to get your website down to the bare essentials. A plain, straightforward layout ensures that your content iseasy to access on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. Having a layout such as this would pitch your business as attentive to the needs of its customers. This is essentially theprinciple of responsive design, which ensures that the elements of your site can be seen properly whether it is on a desktop monitor or a smartphone screen.

When your website sports a responsive design, the content and the information of your company would have a wider reach across a broader segment of the populace. It would also keep your business up to speed with customers who prefer to use mobile devices over their desktop computers for convenient browsing. You wouldn’t want to lose out on a potential market just because of an old-fashioned website. A responsive layout would not affect your content, and it would not be inferior in performance with proper implementation.

In addition to creating a responsive site, a clean, plain design would also help you to reducebounce rate; that is, the number of visitors that leave your website from the entry page without navigating to any other page. Naturally, web sites that are difficult to use and are slow to load would turn away potential customers. To address this, implement a usability testing to see how your page fares for user experience. You may also want to check on the load time of your site to ensure it opens smoothly.

With a minimal design, you would be able to expand the viewership of your site and cater to a wider market. Who knows, it may be the catalyst that could turn your visitors into brand advocates in the future. As the old saying goes, ‘sometimes less is more’.

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A Glance at This Year’s Top 10 Digital Marketing Highlights

By Sandra D’Souza

As 2014 comes to an end, we take a look at some of the major developments in the sphere of digital marketing. Here’s a rundown of the 10 digital marketing trends of the year.

Take a step back to move forward

Chambers inside medieval castles are often lined with metal sconces so that torches can light the way of the dark hallways and prevent people from stumbling. In the same manner, businesses need to look back at the beacons that lighted the way of digital marketing in 2014. This is especially important, as majority of various organisations plan to raise their budget for digital marketing by 17% in 2015. So how can we make the most out of our investment? We need to remain well-informed of the trends that emerged this year, so that we can improve on how we reach out and relate to our prospective customers.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 trends that rocked the digital marketing landscape in 2014.

1. Responsive, multi-faceted marketing

To gain an edge in marketing, companies are learning more about their customers to offer the right products and/or services for their needs. This includes studying the behaviour of your website visitors to measure the likelihood that they can become your customers. It also entailspaying attention to the platforms that people use to learn more about your business. If your prospects spend more time on their mobile devices, then capitalise on that.

Of course, you will also want to retain your customers. Keep them coming back by setting up your site to be responsive to their needs in order to enrich their experience. For instance, Pinterestorients its new users by showing them high-profile members to follow so that they can immediately access attractive content.

2. Interactive screens

Thanks to touchscreen technology, you can make your advertising more attractive and responsive to your potential customers. In shopping malls for instance, retailers can employdigital out-of-home media with interactive screens to encourage people to interact with their business and purchase from them. Combined with Wi-Fi, you can use digital displays to lead people to check-in at your store in exchange for coupons. Or you can set up games on your interactive screen and invite people to play, with assorted goodies for prizes.

3. Experience design in digital marketing

To truly become attentive to their prospects, organisations are also implementing the tenets ofexperience design into their digital marketing. Through this, you can customise your interactionwith your prospects with the aid of attractive interfaces and responsive features in your website. For this to be achieved, you need to understand Big Data to learn more about your customers. An effective experience design will illicit powerful emotions in your prospects such that you can convert them to become your followers. For instance, Airbnb has achieved success in the design of its user experience by encouraging property owners to disclose the condition of their homes while assuring renters that they made the right choice.

4. Programmatic advertising

When it comes to advertising, the delivery of content is expected to become more personalisedas more people use mobile devices across the world. Digital advertising is even expected to trump over broadcast media as this allows users to access information at their own pace. Furthermore,programmatic advertising is allowing different organisations to buy and sell ads depending on the data available about their prospects. This will enable them to become more effective in the audience they are trying to reach, thus becoming more efficient in their strategy.

5. Widespread use of mobile in advertising

As mentioned above, the widespread use of mobile devices can power up digital advertising. Theproliferation of smartphones nowadays has redefined our interaction and decision-making processes, and this carries implications for marketers. Mobile devices can carry businesses through the “last mile in marketing” – the point where customers are closest in making the choice to purchase a product or a service. You can send out your messages through apps, social media or mobile messaging. However, you may be more successful at interacting with your audience through mobile messaging rather than mobile ads, because users can easily block the former on their device. On the contrary, mobile messaging can help you engage your prospects even offline.

6. Use of social media for revenues

For various brands, social media has proven to be effective in converting followers into customers. It offers a new way for companies to connect with their audience, and increase their sales pipeline eventually. Moreover, reviews left by users in the social media often influence others to make their purchase. The ability of social media to strengthen sales has led some social networks to make the most out of this trend. Twitter will roll out its “Buy” button for the holiday season. Meanwhile, part of Facebook’s updates to its privacy policies includes a “buy now” button that will allow users to purchase products without having to exit the social media platform. These changes may go live by January 1.

7. Marketing automation replacing traditional email marketing

Companies that aspire toward growth, or are experiencing growth spurts may find it hard to keep track with all their customers through regular email marketing. Oftentimes, the need to send email-blasts can be time-consuming, without any real assurance that these messages are contributing to sales. Through marketing automation, you can reach out to your prospects with minimal effort. In addition, the process can be tailor-made for each customer so that they will not be overwhelmed with useless information. For instance, Australian sleep therapy company ResMed has implemented a responsive email marketing platform known as Silverpop along with the upgrade of its customer relationship management platform to Salesforce. Together, these two help the company to learn the behaviour of their clients, and send them the appropriate email.

8. Combination of PR, SEO and social media for marketing campaigns

Smart marketing campaigns combine PR, SEO and social media to gain a wider reach. Through agood public relations strategy, your brand can be covered by media outlets, renowned writers and reliable websites. As a result, your business can climb higher in search engines such as Google. After all, “Google is like a mean girl in high school,” said Andy Crestodina at the Social Media Masters Summit of the Digital Megaphone. “Once you get everybody else to like you first, only then will the mean girl like you.” Aside from being mentioned in media outlets, PR can also be used to request influencers in the social media to spread your content. Doing so will take your content farther, and enable your business to reach new customers.

9. Storytelling gives a new face to advertising

Stories are increasingly re-shaping the game in advertising nowadays. To engage their audiences, brands are using storytelling to provide value to their customers, to show them what they can accomplish with this product. For engaging content, marketers are leveraging the impact of storytelling, according to the Nonprofit Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report. Google, for instance, touched the heartstrings of many with its“Parisian Love” ad where a young man sought for love in Paris through Google search. Aside from creating a relatable and compelling narrative, storytelling also includes sharing your plot across social media channels, and employing different tools to expand its reach. Visa scattered its“GoInSix” campaign across different social media channels, where it informs people that brands may only get 6.5 seconds of attention from a person. The company also encouraged influencers to share their six-second stories to increase engagement on its initiative.

10. Marketing to the senses for stronger impact

Aside from sight, brands are shaping their marketing strategies to appeal to the senses of taste, touch and smell to attract their customers. Those that have left a lasting impression on their audience are more likely to stay on top. Nowadays, this marketing strategy is accompanied bytechnology. For instance, the “Teleporter” from Marriott Hotel simulates the sights, sounds and feelings of a vacation in Hawaii or in London through the help of Oculus Rift technology.Meanwhile, the Fat Duck restaurant enhances the experience of eating its “Sound of Sea” dish by serving it up with an iPod that plays the sound of waves. This sensory approach to marketing is expected to be more effective, than the traditional method. “What you’re trying to do is buy time in people’s brains. The more time you have to spend in someone’s brain in a positive way, the more likely they are to buy your product,” said Sam Bompas, co-founder of Bompas and Parr, a company specialising in food art.

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