Creating a website is easy. With free software tools and online creation websites even a novice webmaster can have a new site up and running within minutes. The most popular website management system, a content management system called WordPress, even allows administrators access to thousands of free design themes at the click of a mouse.
While building a website is simple, building a good website is far more complicated.
Themes allow WordPress designers to apply new templates to blogs in seconds. But customizing the themes takes significant effort and a modicum of basic coding knowledge. The click-and-forget method of choosing a design results in a base theme with no unique style, no unique colors, and the same content format as every other blog with a similar theme.
Website creators who are looking for a great site need to consider a more sophisticated plan than simply picking a theme. Some of the top WordPress design ideas for 2013 can provide inspiration for a new website.
1) Minimalist Themes
While some site owners are drawn to colorful designs with plenty of room for content, these busy designs can look cluttered and disorganized if not implemented properly. One WordPress design idea that has grown in popularity throughout 2013 is the minimalist theme.
A minimalist theme is a design style which creates a clean, simple website. Rather than utilizing bold widgets and multiple colors, a minimalist theme largely relies on one striking element per page. The rest of each page is filled with straight-forward content presentation in a consistent format.
Ironically, a minimalist design can be even harder to create than a design with maximum content. Since minimalist WordPress designs have few visual elements, each item on the page must be presented perfectly to maintain visual appeal.
When deciding on a minimalist theme for a WordPress site design, look for three major factors:
- Maximum of one color (other than white and black) per page.
- No animation or moving graphics
- Clean organization of content items
A minimalist design concept is best suited for websites that focus on written content. Sites that rely on photography or product presentation will likely need a flashier theme to highlight individual items. But for a site driven primarily by text content, a minimalist theme creates a professional appearance with low maintenance requirements.
2) Scrolling Banners on the Homepage
A decade ago, when the internet was a new phenomenon, animated icons were a sign of a savvy site owner. These flashing, colorful graphics were used to capture attention and signify that a website was technologically sophisticated. While multi-colored, moving buttons have disappeared from the web, a new design idea has gained prominence among WordPress designers in 2013.
Many WordPress themes provide space for a banner towards the top of a site homepage. These banners generally consist of graphical presentation of the content throughout the rest of the site. Static banners are common on sites of many companies.
Sophisticated WordPress designers have begun to incorporate scrolling banners on the homepage. Rather than one, static banner, a designer can have three, four, or even a dozen different banners which scroll at predetermined intervals or through a menu function. Scrolling banners on a site homepage allow site administrators to highlight multiple products, showcase a variety of services, or display a top list of bestselling items.
Many design innovations are mere fads that phase out within a year. But scrolling banners provide a specific benefit to website owners. As Caitlin Tom, graphic designer at Argon Marketing describes: “Replacing a single homepage banner with scrolling banners allowed an e-commerce client to boost sales of every product featured on the homepage. Rather than being stuck with one banner, we use scrolling banners to run tests of different graphics and different products for the retailer.”
The technical details of creating scrolling banners are best left to professional designers. But even novice website owners can benefit from implementing multiple homepage banners. Be sure to create more banners than you intend to use for the site. Then, by changing the order and activity of different banners in an organized fashion, you can test to see which banners drive the most traffic and which banners result in the most sales of specific products or services.
3) Split Testing
Split testing, which is also called A/B testing, relies on using two or more versions of the same element. By displaying one version to some visitors and a different version to other visitors, site administrators can gather data on the performance of each element.
It is possible to split test entire websites by routing a portion of visitors to one site and routing other visitors to another site. But split testing is most commonly found in design tests. Multiple design variations on a single page are loaded into a split testing software package. Then, as visitors begin to visit a page, data analysts can look at common metrics on performance including:
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Click-throughs to specific pages
- Conversion rate
- Dollars generated per sale
Instead of using gut feel to decide which design is the best, split testing provides real data from real visitors. The best websites constantly test newer and newer variations of every page in a never-ending effort to find the ideal website for visitors.
Split testing involves designers, data analysts, and site owners to work closely in harmony. Although larger organizations are better able to run high-quality tests in house, even the smallest companies can utilize professional web design firms to handle the process. Outsourcing obviously involves higher expenses for the website owner, but successful split testing results in ever-increasing conversions from constantly-improving websites.