In the last several years we have seen a dramatic change in website themes – the layout and style of websites.
In this post, we’re going to look at what has changed and why. While this is applicable to all websites, we’ll also look specifically at how it affects the migration of websites from our NE1 website builder to the new WP-EZ Website Builder.
A few years ago it was standard for a website to be designed with a big graphic in the header and the menu in the left sidebar. These types of designs or themes work well when the website is viewed on a computer.
Trend 1: Rise of the Mobile Web
In recent years there has been a dramatic cultural shift towards mobile devices…
- More than 2/3 of American adults now own a smart phone
- Almost 50% of American adults have a tablet
- About half of all website views are done on a mobile device.
Trend 2: Menus on the Move
Website developers have responded by developing websites that are “responsive.” Responsive websites detect the size of the device the visitor is using and display a version of the website optimal for that screen.
It is challenging to develop websites with left side menu that looks good and functions well at all screen sizes. As a result, most responsive themes have the menu at the top of the website.
In fact, when we were researching and testing themes for WP-EZ only 1 of the 28 themes that met our criteria had the menu on the left side. (We will be adding more themes with top and left menus in the near future.)
Trend 3: Menu Reorg
Another factor that makes the transition from a left side menu to a top menu is challenging is the space limitations in the website header. When the menu is on the left, it’s possible to add lots of items to the main menu without “breaking” the site (as in the example above.)
However, themes that have a top menu, often “break” when the number or length of the menu items goes beyond what can fit on one line. The menu items can overlap or displace other elements of the website (as in the example below.)
It may seem like the easiest solution is to find a theme with a left side menu that will accommodate lots of menu items, but the best solution is to reorganize the menu using sub-menus and no more than 7 main menu items.
Trend 4: From Theme to Content
Another trend in web design influenced by the rise of mobile is fewer graphics in themes. With NE1 we offered themes that have pictures of crosses, churches, children, families, nature and more. Modern themes tend to be much simpler and don’t have images built in. But that doesn’t mean images are any less important. No, the images have moved out of the theme and into the page content – image sliders, galleries, videos.
Advice for NE1 Users Migrating to WP-EZ
If you build your website using our NE1 website builder and you’re now migrating to WP-EZ, let me offer some advice to help you with the transition.
1) Seize the mobile opportunity – Chances are you weren’t planning to redesign your website now. But your NE1 website is not mobile friendly and is not easy to read or use for half your visitors. When you migrate to WP-EZ you are effectively doubling your audience.
2) Use a top menu – It’s what most modern, mobile-friendly websites use.
3) Reorganize your menu
- Make use of drop-down sub-menus
- Limit the number of main menu items to no more than 7
- Make the menu text as short as possible
4) Put images in your content
- WP-EZ has an image slider plugin; put an image slider on your homepage.
- Include at least one image on each page
- Add a Photos page and regularly add new photo galleries to it
If you have a website built with our NE1 website builder, login to your MyOCC dashboard, click the “Website Builder” menu option, and start your migration.
Or to build a brand new website with a mobile-friendly responsive theme using the WP-EZ Website builder, click here.
Comment and Discuss
- What trends are you seeing in website theme design?
- What are you doing in response to these trends?