20 Years on, what’s new in web design?

It’s no secret that I love web design!

I fell deeply, head-over-heels in love with the internet 20 years ago and changed the course of my career in marketing to specialise in this new technological dream.

It’s now 20 years since I produced my first website – a rather simple, single page for CPS Credit Union (now Beyond Bank) that would take less than 5 minutes now, but back then took many weeks!

That first foray into web design lead to a passion. I loved the complexity of the coding and the challenges of graphic design. That first web site had to render well on monotone screens as well as colur because, believe it or not, colour monitors were only a new product at the time.

To say that web design has changed a lot in 2 decades is stating the obvious. But one of the thrilling things about being a web designer is that you constantly need to stay abreast of new trends, changes and technologies.

So, what major trends are influencing web design today?

There are 3 major factors that are currently affecting web design:

1. Google standards
2. Variety of screen size displays
3. Touch screens rather than mouse
3. Better speed to load

Google now ranks websites that are optimised for display on multiple screens (phones, tablets, desktops etc) higher than sites that are not. In Australia, between 81-83 percent of all internet access is now via a phone or tablet (Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, June 2014).


The trend to viewing on a small screen means that in terms of graphic design websites have become clearer and cleaner with pared back graphics.

Logos (headers) are smaller and simpler and using complex background images now makes your site look old fashinoned.

Flexibility is king and anything that gets in the way is removed.

Having a video on your home page, once a sign of class, now means you will put people off, especially if it is set to play automatically and has a soundtrack. Firstly because this means your site takes longer to load on a device that is using a roaming signal (like an iphone) and secondly because, if you are in public, it can be really embarassing if someone’s ad starts blaring from your phone.

Fixed percentage width and centre aligned sites are making a come-back.

The was a short lived trend for full width sites, where no matter how narrow or wide your screen was, the site would fill from one edge to the other. Unfortunately, this lead to the edges being blurry on some devices, so the trend has returned to widths that leave a sophisticated small border again.

Stock images are dead! Yay!

Recent analysis shows that stock images, and especially those ones of “professional people at meetings”, rather than giving the impression that a business is dynamic and competent, actually makes a business look rather dodgy. People recognise stock images for what they are and using them makes it look like you are hiding something. Better a photo of your staff taken on a phone camera than using fake people.

People like the personal, not the corporate.

They want to do business with real people and these days the use of stock photography is likely to give the first impression that your website is some sort of scam. After all, that’s what scammer’s site look like.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)has been around for a while. Up until recently, most design emphasis was placed on making the site look great on desktop devices, and just ok on mobile and tablet devices. RWD has moved toward making every experience look great no matter the device.

With this move, we are starting to see design elements that begin from the point of taking what works on mobile devices and implementing it site wide.

Menus are where you expect to find then – in the upper right of the small screen and horizontally across the top on the big screen. It’s really quite odd when you think about it, how website menus move about and can sometimes even be difficult to find!

This would never happen with a book, would it? You always know that in a book the content will be in the front and the references will be at the back, so why hide these things in tricky places on a web site?

If you produced a web site because you wanted people to read about you or your business, don’t be tricky and hide your content. That’s just silly.

And while on the topic of hiding your content, gone too are those irritating, slow loading, “just wait while I draw it” graphics. Really, nobody has time for that sort of self indulgent twaddle and nothing else attacts a back button push quite like being expected to wait in order to see something.

Mouse-over images are also gone. With over 80% of all internet access being via a touch screen, mouse-over images are clunky and redundant. They slow your site and don’t work anyway if you aren’t using a mouse.

Bigger text, even huge text, is sensibly making a come-back.

Maybe this is due to the ageing of the generation X web designers who these days need glasses themselves, but it is a welcome change, especially on small phone screens. And incidentally, if your text is considered too small, Google will now penalise you by dropiing your ranking.

Your viewer wants to get a preview of all you have to offer right on the first page so the trend is towards home pages that are much longer in order to create a dynamic interaction between the website and the viewer. So the first sentences should be who we are, what we do and where we are.

Scrolling is not an issue on touch screens, but using menu links may be. Over 90% of visitors to a wen site never go past the first screen, so get your details there!

Skeuomorphic design is being replaced by flat design.

Skeuomorphic design refers to the trend to take objects from the physical world and render them on a screen, such as making objects like “buttons” look 3 dimensional, so that the user “presses” them when they click.

This design trend began in the mid 90s because websites mirrored the buttons people were familiar with on household objects.

Similarly, in the 90s there was a trend for websites to have notes that looked like bits of paper, paper clips attached to the borders, 3D effects like drop shadows and notice boards that looked like pin-up boards. However, twenty years on, internet users are completely familiar with the online environment and visual clues suggesting what to “press” are no longer necessary.

what is the point of clickbait

Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-through and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social media.

These are the sort of headlines you’ll see on clickbait articles:

  • Man hugs a dolphin. What happens next will blow your mind!
  • 3 facts about oranges that will change your life FOREVER!
  • What this little kid can do with a tin can will amaze you!
    And when your curiosity is piqued, you click, and you are inevitably disappointed.

But it is not just the disappointment that should make you wary of clickbait, it is also the fact that clickbait is SELECTING you.

That’s right!

We know that clickbait sites are all about getting you to see the advertising content; usually for some pretty dodgy stuff. Advertising for goods and services that you think to yourself you would never personally be gullible enough to fall for.

Yet, by the very action of clicking on the clickbait headline, when you should know better, you have just self-selected yourself as a gullible person.

Clickbait is a trend that any reputable online marketer will studiously avoid.

Why? Because resorting to clickbait in an attempt to capture user interest can do more harm than good for your brand in the long term..

Sure, it grabs people’s attention because the headline is clever or funny, but clickbaits always fail to deliver what is promised, leading to distrust or, worse, damage to your reputation.

Instead, focus on what is valuable and learn to write powerful headlines without resorting to clickbaits.

Remember that content is king and, ultimately, quality always wins.

It may be true that capturing the attention of your audience is just half the battle, but keeping them engaged is another story.

What you provide after the headline matters more.

It is better to have ten people read your online article because it is relevant to them and they are genuinely interested, than to have a thousand click on it and become instantly disappointed.

People tend to stick with those they can trust, who deliver what they promise, so avoid clickbait and look after your online reputation.

Do You Need a Dedicated IP for your Website?

Do You Need a Dedicated IP for your Website? – Probably not.

There are many things to consider when selecting website hosting options and one that I am often asked is “Do I need a dedicated IP address for my website?”.

  • Dedicated IP address – Is it necessary?
  • Dedicated IP address – Does it have any benefit?
  • Dedicated IP address – Do I really need one if I’m using a dedicated server?
  • Dedicated IP address – Do I really need one at all?

Obviously, with any extra service, cost will increase, but is a dedicate IP address of any benefit to you, your business or your website?

First, let’s answer the question “What Is An IP Address?”

An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is completely separate from your domain name.

An IP address is a sequence of numbers assigned to every device that accesses the Internet. Whereas your domain name (www.yourname.com.au) is essentially your website address that tells the world where it can be found on the Internet, all your devices such as desktop PC, tablet, laptop and phone have an IP address is a unique label that enables the identification of your specific device when it accesses a website.

In addition to computers and mobile devices, web hosting servers also have their own unique IP addresses.

Shared IPs and Dedicated IPs

Data centres that are set up for high speed hosting of multiple websites offer 2 types of hosting – shared hosting and dedicated hosting.

With shared hosting, all of a server’s resources are pooled together to host many sites without regard for who owns the site or how much traffic each site receives.

With dedicated hosting, all of a server’s resources are still applied to a specific set of sites and applications, but the way those resources are allocated is at the discretion of the person renting the server space, not the hosting provider.

With shared hosting, there are can be hundreds on the same server sharing the same IP address.

With dedicated hosting, sites may share the same hosting provider, but do not all have the same IP address.

Shared IPs and dedicated IPs operate in exactly the same way. While each hosting account has the same IP in a shared hosting environment, a dedicated IP is an exclusive address that is unique to one hosted server.

If you purchase a dedicated IP address it is exclusively yours to use as you wish and you can serve as many site as you like from it – you control who uses it.

However, a dedicated IP is really of no advantage for either hosting or search engine optimisation (SEO), but there are a few case where a dedicated IP can be needed.

What Is A Dedicated IP And What Does It Actually Do?

To truly understand dedicated IPs, we need to understand how IP addresses work.

IP addresses route internet traffic to the right place, much like a post code, and just like a post code, different people can share the same one.

If you have a shared hosting account, you probably share your site IP address with dozens of other people. In some cases, you might share it with hundreds of other sites.

Sharing is not a problem. The hosting software seamlessly, and in milliseconds, interprets requests for different sites on the same IP, ensuring that it can serve the right content to each viewer.

When Do I Need a Dedicated IP Address?

There are 3 reasons people might tell you that you need a dedicated IP address for your website.

  • To maintain a secure site via SSL certificate.
  • To manage a very high traffic site with lots of real-time interaction from users (a site like Gumtree, Ebay, Facebook etc)
  • For some reason (and I cannot think of one) you need to view your website via IP address rather than a domain address.
    Of the reasons listed above, the most common is the requirement for a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate to your site.

If you are developing an e-commerce site with automated banking processing, you will need to offer customers the security of protecting that information with an SSL. You must have a dedicated IP in order to install an SSL certificate on your site.

However, if your e-commerce site uses a third party payment option such as Paypal or requires direct deposit to your bank account, an SSL is unnecessary.

Of course, hosting providers charge an additional fee both for the dedicated IP and the SSL certificate, and frankly, with modern e-commerce functions, few e-commerce sites use them.

Whether you own an e-commerce site or not, if your website has a really, really, REALLY large volume of traffic on a daily basis, you may want to consider getting a dedicated IP so your website is more likely to increase or at least maintain the speed and performance your visitors are accustomed to while accommodating so many visitors. It will also reduce the likelihood of your site crashing under the strain of so much traffic.

But nothing is guaranteed – Remember the 2016 Australian Census? 🙂

Now For a Furphy

In the past there has been some discussion about whether or not a dedicated IP offers any sort of SEO benefit.

Back in 2006 Google spoke about dedicated IPs and said they did not affect ranking.

Then, unfortunately, in 2010 Google released a video in response to a specific question about whether shared hosting negatively affects a site’s ranking.

The question and response dealt specifically with the presence of spam websites that seriously drained resources on the same server as genuine business websites. However, being the internet, people didn’t read in context, and misunderstood the Google advice, so for a while some SEO people were incorrectly advising that a dedicated IP would improve rankings.

Eventually, in 2013, Google clarified by explaining that while a dedicated IP made no difference to ranking, the loading speed of a site did. But to be fair, on the vast majority of shared servers, there is no appreciable difference in loading time when compared to an identical site on a dedicated IP address, so no…

A dedicated IP address is not going to move your site to the number one position in Google’s searches.

Of course, this fact will not stop unscrupulous people trying to sell you a dedicated IP Address that you really do not need.

So, in answer to the question “Do I need a dedicated IP address for my website?” – Nope, probably not.

Why I Hate One Page Websites

One page websites, yes or no?

Please, don’t be fooled into using one page website design just because it is “trendy”!

Although this trend is hot, it will quickly become a nightmare for you as it goes against all the fundamentals of good web design.

Firstly, perhaps I should explain what a one page site is.

A one page website is simply a single page website that uses only one HTML page. When clicking on navigation links, the user scrolls down the page or jumps to that particular content section. The website will use JavaScript, jQuery, CSS3, or Ajax to accomplish this movement.

But be warned, if you use it, it will hurt your site, and thereby your business, in the long run.

The biggest problem is that one page websites can totally derail your SEO efforts (SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and means trying to get your site to rank well in Google searches).

The advantage of multiple pages is that you can use different SEO setting for each page. A single page website does not allow that.
The average website (if optimised properly) doesn’t have only one or two keywords as a focus; it probably has twenty or maybe fifty. How on earth can you adequately target and optimise twenty or fifty keywords with only one single page? Well, you can’t.

Google (in a video called What does Google think of single-page websites ) says it has “become better at understanding and digesting JavaScript and jQuery used in single page sites” and that they “sometimes work” for SEO.

Sometimes, Google? Is “sometimes” ok for your business?

Think about it. Would you gamble your SEO efforts for a cool website trend and hope that it “sometimes” works?

A single page limits the opportunities for standard website search engine optimisation because:

  • Only one keyword phrase is allowed: You can only successfully optimise any given website page for one keyword phrase. So having a single page site means you can only target a single keyword phrase. Very limiting.
  • Only one set of Meta Data will be seen: You only get one set of meta data on a single page website; just one vital title tag and only one meta description to allow your clients to find your site. How silly!
  • Page weight: The more content you squeeze into your one page design (images, text, videos), the greater the likelihood of a heavy page that will take ages to load. Google hates heavy pages as they take too long to load. Will your customers wait or go elsewhere?
  • No internal links: Obviously with no internal pages you have no opportunity for internal linking, which can be a rich source of SEO if done correctly.
  • Few external links: It’s unlikely that you’re going to cram a heap of external links into your one page site as you don’t want to take the focus away from your business. Google doesn’t like sites without links so again a lack of external links is very bad for SEO.

The second big problem with single page websites is that they confuse users.

Do you want your users confused?

To keep visitors on a website, you need to make you website content and navigation easy. You can’t expect visitors to think through cute design to get to where they want to go or to locate information they need.

If they have to “figure out” how to use your website, your website is not worth their time.

A well designed website includes multiple pages designed around a user’s need. It allows the visitor pick their path based on their needs and then presents them with information relevant to them. You can achieve this with a multiple page website, but not with a single page website.

The third biggest argument against single page sites is the reliance on a coder or a standard template.

The owner of the site has now flexibility to manage the site themselves, except within the strict confines of the template.

Finally, they are jumpy as anything!

Just as you begin to read a few lines of content, a big image further up finishes loading and your site jumps down the page.

The only solution to this, especially if the single page site has a lot of big images, is to wait for the entire site to load.

Do you know how much people hate that?

Wasting their data allowance to view a site that may not be what they need?

They will hit the back button and try a better site.

So, if you are a business owner and planning a new site or a a redesign of your existing website, think about what you really need.

Look past the trendy design and focus on what really matters to your website visitor. Then contact us and we’ll help you get there with a website you can afford, one that is SEO friendly, and one that you can maintain yourself, if you wish.

Stop Videos Playing Automatically

Stop Videos Playing Automatically in a few simple steps.

Does it drive you insane when videos in sidebars or embedded randomly through a site begin to play automatically?
It is possible to save your sanity and download limit by preventing this in most common browsers.

How to stop automatically playing ads, videos and media in Chrome

Disabling autoplay videos and media in Chrome is simple. First of all you need to type “chrome://chrome/settings/content” into the URL bar. Then all you need to do is scroll down to the plug-in section, and select ‘Let me choose when to run plugin content’.

How to stop automatically playing ads, videos and media in Firefox

The function can be disabled through the browser’s own settings. Type “about:config” into the address bar, click through the warning and search for “autoplay” options—double-click on media.autoplay.embed and the value changes to false.

How to stop automatically playing ads, videos and media in Internet Explorer

Select “Safety” and tick ActiveX Filtering to block some kinds of content.
Another option is to choose Tools then Manage add-ons to get access to the Shockwave Flash plugin. Right-click to disable it.

How to stop automatically playing ads, videos and media in Microsoft Edge

You can’t – yet.
Just don’t use it 🙂

The steps for IE described above are the ones most commonly recommended, and they stopped some auto-playing content, but plenty still got through.
It seems that Chrome and Firefox are much more effective at blocking this behaviour than either the old or new browsers from Microsoft.

Hottest Technologies on the Web – June 2016

There is always something new in web design, and staying ahead of the latest technology trends is essential in the web design business.

While most new trends will be of little use or interest to many clients, it is interesting to see what developments have been going on.

The website Built With (builtwith.com) analyses websites all over the world to see what new and emergent technologies are in use.

This list shows the current 10 most popular emergent web technologies.


This might seem a bit of a weird new trend, given the importance of responsiveness in a modern website to enable it to display on all devices, but sometimes, defining the orientation is useful.

In our smart devices (phones and tablets) there is an accelerator that aligns the screen depending on the orientation of the device; it switches between portrait and landscape modes when you rotate the device.

This enables us to create better user experiences because it offers an additional layout with a simple turn of a device, and without pressing any buttons.

However, designing for device orientation brings various challenges and requires careful thinking. The experience must be as unobtrusive and transparent as possible, and we must understand the context of use for this functionality.


It is probably a code used more often on single pages within a site than for an entire website, and very handy if you need to control the user experience.

Nearly all websites benefit from being designed for device orientation, but every so often there is a page or a function that will work much better in one orientation. For example, a video or a slideshow might look much better in landscape.



New Relic is a tracing and analytics application that uses a dashboard to monitor the health, availability and user experience on a site.
It’s expensive, but if you really need to know, in real time, what the traffic is uup to on your site, it might be uesful.
I suspect the reason it is at number 2 is because news sites, entertainment sites and political sites have been adopting it recently.

3. Google Universal Analytics Usage Statistics

One of my personal favourites and something I build into every site; this script measures how users interact with your website. It is new development of the well known Google tracking code, with additional flexibility for developers to customise it.

4. Device Width

A very useful code that overcomes that annoying issue we often see with an embedded document, form or picture requiring you to scroll right to see it all on a small screen.
This code allows the programmer to define the maximum width of the object.

5. CDN – Content Delivery Network

Useful for extremely high demand websites, a content delivery network a group of servers deployed in multiple data centres around the world. The purpose is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high speed.

Appropriate for very high volume news sites, entertainment sites and political sites.

6. WordPress 4.5

No surprise here. This is by far the most popular website technology being used today.

Massively flexible and with a brilliant user interface, nothing comes close to WordPress.

WordPress 4.5 is the latest release.

7. Facebook Custom Audiences

This script allows you to select customised audiences from your website that you can then target with Facebook ads and posts.

It does require that the viewer of your website agree to a privacy statement allowing you to track their movements though, so unless you are offering a service people want to be regularly updated on, such as a healthcare blog or a fashion site, it might be seen as something of a barrier for some users.


A suite of tools for scripted, high-performance HTML5 animations that work in all major browsers.

9. Yahoo Dot

A simple way to measure and improve customer engagement across online campaigns.

For an advertiser who spreads their message and brand through multiple places, Yahoo Dot offers a single tag that enables improved ad effectiveness across search and native ads.

10. Comodo SSL

Comodo SSL (Secured Socket Layer) is an internet security certificate. Using a Secured Socket Layer enables a secure and encrypted connection on the Internet.

Once complicated, now it is easy, thanks to Comodo. And that, combined with a lower cost than older competitors, is probably why it ranks at number 10.


Once the spam filters learn of a spammer they block them.
But quite a lot of people have to suffer from their spam activity first.

I remember Steven Fry on QI asking what the bulk of internet traffic was and the answer was over 90% spam.

So if there was a solution I think someone would have become a billionaire with it by now.You know that old saying “there is nothing certain in life but death and taxes”?

I think we need it revised for the 21st century to

“there is nothing certain in life but death, taxes and spam email”

While there are numerous spam filters available, nothing really works 100% all the time, and any spam filter comes with the risk that you will potentially delete emails from new customers, there are some things you can do when spam gets overwhelming.

These are some useful suggestions that are worth knowing about:

  1. Take advantage of the Junk E-mail Filter in your email software which automatically evaluates incoming messages and sends those identified as spam to the Junk E-mail folder.
  2. Use you “block sender” option to block any further emails from a sender.
  3. Block pictures in HTML messages that spammers use as Web beacons. By default, this feature blocks automatic picture downloads and other external content in messages if the content is linked to a server. If you open a message that has external content when this feature is turned off, the external content downloads automatically, inadvertently verifying to the server that your e-mail address is a valid one. Your e-mail address can then be sold to a spammer. You can unblock external content for messages that come from sources that you trust.
  4. Turn off “read and delivery receipts” and automatic processing of meeting requests. Spammers sometimes resort to sending meeting requests and messages that include requests for read and delivery receipts. Responding to such meeting requests and read receipts might help spammers to verify your e-mail address. You can turn off this functionality.
  5. Limit the places where you post your e-mail address. We all need our email addresses on our web sites, but unfortunately whenever you list or link to your e-mail address, you increase your chances of being spammed.
  6. Review the privacy policies of web sites and only join those you need and trust such as online banking, shopping, or newsletters. Look for a link or section (usually at the bottom of the Web site’s home page) called “Privacy Statement,” “Privacy Policy,” “Terms and Conditions,” or “Terms of Use.” If the Web site does not explain how your personal information will be used, consider not using the services at that site.
  7. Watch out for check boxes that are already selected. When you shop online, companies sometimes add a check box that is already selected, which indicates that it is fine with you if the company sells or gives your e-mail address to other businesses (or “third parties”). Clear this check box so that your e-mail address is not shared.
  8. Don’t EVER reply to spam. Never reply to a spam e-mail message — not even to unsubscribe from a mailing list. Answering spam just confirms to the spammer that your e-mail address is an active one.
  9. If a company uses e-mail messages to ask for personal information, don’t respond by sending a message. Legitimate companies will not ask for personal information to be sent in e-mail, so be very suspicious if they do. Such a request could be a spoofed e-mail message disguised to look like a legitimate one. This tactic is known as phishing.
    If the possible spam appears to be sent by a company that you do business with — for example, your credit card company — then call the company to verify that they sent it, but don’t use any phone number that is provided in the e-mail. Instead, use a number that you find by using other means, such as directory assistance, a statement, or a bill. If the request is a legitimate one, the company’s customer service representative should be able to assist you. The Junk E-mail Filter also includes phishing protection to help identify and disable suspicious messages.
  10. Don’t contribute to a charity in response to a request sent in e-mail. Sadly, some spammers prey on your goodwill. If you receive an e-mail appeal from a charity, treat it as spam. If the charity is one that you want to support, locate their telephone number or Web site to find out how you can make a contribution.
  11. Don’t forward chain e-mail messages. apart from the fact that by forwarding a chain e-mail message you might be furthering a hoax, you also lose control over who sees your e-mail address.

What are people saying about you online?

What are people saying about you?
Google Alerts

Know what people are saying about you or your business anywhere on the web (or what they are saying about your competitors for that matter) by using Google Alerts.

You can set up Google Alerts to keep tabs on any person, place, or thing.

Google Alerts sends you an e-mail whenever your key phrase appears anywhere online.

Google Alerts are easy to set up.

  1. Go to https://www.google.com.au/alerts#
  2. Enter your search query.
  3. Choose the kind of results you want. By default, Google Alerts
    will give you “everything,” but you can also narrow the search to
    blogs, books, discussions (within Google Groups), news, and
  4. Decide how often you want the alert.

You can use Google Alerts to track a key phrase on a single website if you wish. For example, if you want to see what people are saying about Malcolm Turnbull on Facebook you simply type this:

site:facebook.com “Malcolm Turnbull”

As you type, you will see a preview of the results. This can help you tailor the query to get exactly the kind of information you want.

With all your choices made, click Create Alert.
Bookmark your Alert-management page so you can edit or delete alerts as needed.

If a particular result seems out of place, you can click “flag as irrelevant.”

Adelaide Hills Web Designer