by Terry Young
and why is it used?
I am often asked why modern websites seem to look similar in style. The answer is simple: because today's websites have to reach and appeal to a much greater number of people, and that requires a certain amount of conformity.
When a designer creates a website, he not only has to consider the people visiting the site, but also the devices they are viewing the site on. Not everybody uses a huge 28" wide screen monitor to browse the Internet. Many viewers use smaller devices such as tablets and smart phones. This has led to what is called phone-up web design.
Phone-up web design is designing a site for the smallest viewing source.
Since most websites don't now have a separate website for smaller screens, the content that fits on a large screen has to be repositioned as the viewing device gets smaller. This means that a 10 paragraph home page with blocks of information such as news, testimonials, blogs, etc., looks fine on a desktop or tablet, but will stretch much further down on a phone.
A phone screen would not only require a great deal of scrolling to see it all, but it would take longer to load, and some content may be missed.
This is where phone-up minimal design comes into play. Simply put, it is designing a site for the smallest common denominator. It requires using less text and more white space, and positioning content so that it is not overwhelming when scaled down.
Menus should also be kept simple. Ideally, a website should have only one menu, but if there is more than one, the less important one should be hidden from mobile viewers so that their experience doesn't get too confusing. If links are vital to all viewers, merging the menus into one is a viable option.
Fewer images should also be used; stock photos should be avoided when possible. While 15 years ago stock images could make a website look like it was for a large company, ironically, because digital cameras are now everywhere, stock images have the reverse effect today.
Visitors are wise to the stock photo of a man in a hard hat pointing at some building plans, or a woman in a white coat looking thoughtfully at a test tube. They know this isn't you, and it creates a level of doubt about your business.
While you could still use generic stock images for some things just to make a point, such as wedding rings on a cushion, you should avoid those involving people. Visitors will appreciate photos of you, your real building, and your actual staff, even if they were only taken with a smartphone.
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Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,