2024 Guide to Online Product Design: Best Practices, Tools & Trends
We love aesthetic, but we also know that the design of an online product is not just about aesthetics; sadly. In other words, the design is a critical component that bridges the gap between user satisfaction and business success. An effective design captivates, communicates, and converts 🚀, making it an indispensable part of any online product.
Here we’ll try to understand what is behind, around and after the design - best practices, essential tools, and sources of inspiration that can elevate your online product design.
Best Practices in Online Product Design
Design in the digital world encompasses various elements, and I would prefer to separate them for specific and general elements because each of them is playing a vital role in the user's experience. Here are some best practices:
Specific Design Elements
Let’s start from the details, each product or website will need of a structure, typography, colors, iconography, shapes, and more. All of this, for sure, needs to be align with the branding. Let’s say the branding is the very beginning of any product and base on that, you can start to create your first wireframes and MVPs. Here we explain you the most used.
Structure of the Page: Yes, design is also about the structure of the page! The foundation of great design lies in its structure. A well-organized layout, clear navigation, and a seamless user journey are key. It's about guiding the user intuitively through the content, ensuring they find what they need effortlessly.
Iconography and Shapes: Icons and shapes are more than just decorative elements; they are visual cues that guide user interaction. Simple, clear icons contribute to a more intuitive interface.
Colors: This is connected with your branding, but also is a powerful tool in conveying mood and emotions. The right color palette can enhance user engagement and improve usability. Remember, every color evokes a different emotion.
The Trend: Staying abreast of design trends is vital, but it's more important to discern which trends align with your brand and audience. Trends should enhance, not dictate, your design philosophy.
Typography: The legibility and accessibility of your content is a big part base on typography. A good choice of typeface can make your content more readable and appealing.
Human Character: Integrating human elements, like photos and illustrations of people, can make your product more relatable and user-friendly. It adds a personal touch that enhances user engagement.
General Design Elements
Yes, digital products are not just about color and fonts. They have strategy points to think about before you release your first MVP. What are they about? Here we explain you few.
Focus on User Flows: Know exactly what your user wants to achieve in your website or product. Ensure that the design is intuitive and ask questions like whether the homepage clarifies the website's purpose, if the navigation bar is easy to use, and if essential elements like buttons and forms are easily accessible.
Design for Accessibility: This includes using alt-text on buttons and graphics, providing captions and transcripts for multimedia elements, and ensuring good screen contrast ratios and readable typography.
Emotion-Driven Design: Create experiences that resonate emotionally with users. This means connected with your user using storytelling, and visual elements that are align. Conduct user research to better know your user and finally evoke the desired emotional response.
Usability: Prioritize the quality of the user experience, including how easy and pleasant the website or app is to use. Focus on keeping users informed, providing feedback, and creating intuitive navigation.
Spacing, Alignment, and Typography: Use a good space around elements to make them stand out, align crucial elements in a natural reading flow, and use different font weights and styles to guide users through the content hierarchy.
Maintain Consistent Branding: Use a consistent logo placement, color scheme, typography, and imagery style across your website or product to strengthen your brand's identity and recognition.
Conversion Copywriting: Employ action-driven copies throughout the website or product to educate and motivate simultaneously. This involves using strong action verbs, getting to the point quickly, and writing in an active voice.
Effective CTAs (Call to Action): CTAs are the ones that finally convert. They are crucial in guiding visitors toward your intended goal. Use direct, value-driven phrases like "Get started for free" or "Talk to our team" to encourage action.
Essential Tools for Effective Online Design
Innovation and creativity are the heartbeats of outstanding design. When we talk about online products, where user attention is fleeting, innovative design can be the difference between being noticed and being overlooked. But it’s not the only thing, as a designer you’ll be in charge or manage different kind of tools to create a product use by thousand and why not, millions of people. Let’s break down this information and what each tool is for.
Adobe Photoshop: Ideal for photo editing and complex digital painting.
Adobe Illustrator: Best for vector-based graphic design tasks like logos and illustrations.
CorelDRAW: A powerful alternative for vector graphic design, popular in various industries.
Figma: Known for its collaborative features, great for UX/UI design and prototyping.
Sketch: The most popular before Figma, and it’s primarily used for web and mobile app interfaces, known for its simplicity and effectiveness.
Adobe XD: Adobe's solution for UX/UI design, offering a range of tools for wireframing, animating, and prototyping.
Webflow: A web design tool that allows designers to build responsive websites without coding.
WordPress: A popular content management system with extensive customization options through themes and plugins.
Framer: Another no-code solution for designing and building websites. This makes it accessible to designers who may not have coding skills but want to create interactive and responsive web designs.
Animation and Motion Graphics
Adobe After Effects: A powerful tool for creating complex animations and motion graphics.
Blender: An open-source tool for 3D modeling, animation, and rendering.
Cinema 4D: Widely used for 3D motion graphics, visual effects, and rendering.
Jitter: Fast and simple motion design tool.
Prototyping and Wireframing
Axure RP: Offers advanced prototyping capabilities with a focus on complex interactions.
Balsamiq: Great for low-fidelity wireframing that emphasizes simplicity and clarity.
Figma: Yes, again Figma :)
UX PIN: Real Time Collaboration Tool for Prototyping, Wireframing, UI components, Mockups, UX Design, UI Designs.
Font and Typography
Google Fonts: A comprehensive library of free and open-source fonts.
FontShop: Offers a wide range of fonts for purchase, including many professional-quality options.
Typekit by Adobe: A subscription-based font service offering a vast selection of high-quality fonts.
Coolors: A color scheme generator that's simple and effective.
Adobe Color CC: Helps in creating and exploring color combinations.
Pantone Color Finder: Essential for finding and referencing Pantone colors.
My Mind: A collection of unique color combinations for your design projects.
Collaboration and Feedback
Slack: For team communication and collaboration.
Trello: A project management tool that helps organize design tasks and collaborate with teams.
Miro: An online collaborative whiteboarding platform to bring teams together, anytime, anywhere.
FigJam: A good extension of Figma for collaborate with teams in real time. Build better products, together. Define ideas, align on decisions, and move work forward.
Each of these tools serves specific needs and preferences, and many designers often use a combination of them depending on the project requirements. Whether you're into graphic design, web design, UX/UI, or any other form of digital design, these tools can greatly enhance your creative process.
Inspirational Resources for Designers
I know you can start to feel exhausted, but don’t worry! Your are not alone, we made a small list of Inspiration pages because finally this is the fuel for creativity. We let you find your next great idea:
Behance: Adobe's platform showcases a vast array of creative work. It's a treasure trove for design inspiration.
Awwwards: Recognizing the best in web design, Awwwards is a great place to see design trends.
Dribbble: A community of designers sharing their work, process, and projects.
Pinterest: An endless source of creative ideas and design concepts.
Designspiration: Similar to Pinterest but focused solely on design, this is a great place to explore new ideas.
Design Trends for 2024
Of course we needed to start our first blog of 2024 talking about the upcoming trends. For 2024 are gearing towards a more immersive, interactive, and personalized experience, and how do you reach that? Getting to know your users through UX Research. Did you expected it? Here's a detailed look at some of the key trends:
AI in Web Design: AI tools are emerging as significant aids in the design process, assisting in creating unique and personalized user experiences. They're expected to change how designers operate by reducing design timelines.
Skeuomorphism: This trend involves creating design elements that mimic their real-world counterparts, providing a familiar and intuitive user experience. It's making a comeback, emphasizing designs that are reminiscent of pre-digital elements like switches, buttons, calculators and dials.
Parallax Scrolling: This technique, where background content moves at a different speed than foreground content, is resurging with a twist. The modern parallax effect now incorporates live content, video, and dynamic imagery, enhancing storytelling and user engagement.
Kinetic Typography: This involves animating text to capture attention and bring messages dynamically, making web pages more experiential rather than just informational. It's expected to become more interactive and responsive to user actions.
Microinteractions: These are small, interactive elements within a website or product that respond to user actions. In 2024, expect these to become more personalized and context-aware.
Text-Only Hero Images: The trend of using bold, unique typography in the hero section of web pages is catching on. It aims to quickly catch user attention with catchy typography.
Dark Mode: This design approach comes from 2023 but still growing popularity for its practical benefits, like reducing eye strain, and its aesthetic appeal, creating an ultra-modern look for websites.
Gradients: Gradients are making a comeback, adding a splash of color to website designs. They can be used for images, backgrounds, buttons, and more, introducing colors in a very soft way.
Large Hero Typography: Oversized main typography coming from the groovy style is becoming a trend for making a bold statement right away. It’s an effective alternative to images, takes less to load, and still has a strong visual impact.
Maximalism: Yes, you read well, and if you are a Minimalist lover don't feel scared! This trend puts a lot of information in one place with bright typography, powerful colors, and intense textures, moving away from the minimalist design. 90’s is back!
Extra>> Retro Resurrection and Interactive Design: A blend of modern and vintage styles, coupled with interactive design elements, is expected to enhance user engagement and brand identity.
The design of an online product is a multifaceted discipline that demands a balance of aesthetics, functionality, vision, structure and emotional connection with the users. We embrace you to take into account these best practices, using the right tools, and continually seeking inspiration.