UX, SEO and new trends in web design – Interview with Olar Krjukov Volume 1
What is new about digital trends, SEO & User Experience – Interview with Olar Krjukov Vol. 1
Olar Krjukov is webdesigner, webdeveloper, creative webarchitect and has been working internationally for many creative and marketing agencies in Amsterdam, Vienna, Estonia and in Canada. Today he reveals his insights, opinions and shares valuable informations about latest trends in webdesign and digital industry.
Iwona Chelminska: Olar, your services are in great demand. You delivered the website/webshops projects for somaas, which I am very pleased with. You have been working internationally for many recognized creative agencies in Amsterdam, Vienna, Estonia and in Canada. As you have this great overview of what’s going on in the digital branch, I would like to ask you to share some of your professional insights and experiences on somaas‘ blog.
- From your perspective, what is the most effective way to keep a user’s attention on a website?
Olar Krjukov: The best way to keep a visitor’s attention is to show the user that the website is useful for them and that they will get value out of it. Now that is easy to say, but hard to do. During job interviews is often asked to describe oneself with a couple of sentences. I feel it is the same with a website. A website needs to be able to describe itself to the user with short, simple sentences within the first 2 seconds: declaring what it is and whether it will help the user to fix their problem. After their attention is grasped, the next step would be to make the experience as smooth as possible. There should never be a moment where visitor feels lost, or is overwhelmed by the information that is laid in front of them. Just as in great paintings, where the painter guides the viewer’s attention by telling a story with light, so too must a website tell a story by guiding the visitor through its pages.
- The digital branch is changing very fast. In your opinion what are the main important trends in web design nowadays you noticed?
The web is changing constantly and trends come and go. Therefore they shouldn’t always be the number one thing to keep in mind, but more like a healthy piece of advice when designing a website. Some of the elements that will probably play a bigger role in the future are, in my opinion:
Fewer menu points in the header with connection to the most important information. Visitors can instead find the full menu list at the footer. The times of large top menus where everything is one click away is changing. There should be 4-5 menu points on top. Also a nice new feature is big bold headers with very short, one-two word calls to action.
Website bodies themselves should have short texts, accompanied by pictures and videos. As websites have been around for a decade, we have learned how to grasp more information in a short amount of time, so every little detail doesn’t need to be explained to us. We like to go through the website quickly without interruption.
Another feature that is coming from mobile use is accordion menus that hide a section of the website, which the visitor can click, giving the visitor the option to read more about the topic if choosing to do so.
To end, the overall layer style is drifting towards a more broken tone. We have had websites in perfect order for a long time, so to see websites that have elements are either cut off, or placed in unique/random ways, is a fresh view for visitors and makes the website stand out.
- This year, according to Google, the number of mobile searches exceeded PC searches in Europe for the first time. Does this great usage of smartphones or tablets also influence web design in the future?
Mobile use has grown massively over the past years, and it has been foreseen that at one point it may outweigh desktop use. Any design I ever have done has always been made with responsive design in mind. Also, the main tools that help development be faster, like bootstrap or foundation, have had a mobile first approach for many years already. This means that you make the website first for smartphone and then when scaling the screen bigger you adjust it. However, I have seen cases where the website is designed for mobile and tablet, and the desktop version has not been adjusted properly. This makes visitors going through the desktop version have a cumbersome experience, as currently tablets come with limitations that desktops do not have. So this is something to be careful of.
Mobile and tablet use is slowly influencing desktop design as well. The simplest example is through the move towards large fonts and sections. Before smartphones became more popular, websites used to have small text with lot of information on the screen.
Olar, you have many successful years behind you now and a lot of experience in designing websites and webshops now.
- Which website projects were the most challenging for you so far?
The first ones. Definitely the first ones. Only because I did not go to design school for web development. I am self taught, with the idea that if you want to learn to swim you jump into the water. But the one that most stands out was when I had to make a questionnaire web app with Django that was written in Python. I had never heard of Python or Django before. So I spent every waking hour and all my weekends learning about it. But a month later it was successfully finished and now I use django for my own personal web service projects.
Well, there is probably no school and theory manuals that can replace a versatile professional practice and trying things out that makes your work just great with the time.
- What are the 3 most important factors for website project? Or in other words what do all successful websites have in common?
If speaking from the stand point of a new website: a clear and simple purpose with value, a short loading time, and a well organized marketing which includes social media.
You used to work in many countries on both sides of Altlantic.
- How could you estimate UX and website design of most SMB in Europe? Could you compare them with those in Canada? Do you notice some differences in the look and feel, or technology used?
Well, currently Europe is behind North America for mobile use being as frequent as desktop. Therefore Europe has many text filled websites that might come off as too much and often the websites have a fixed width. At least, that is what I have noticed with many Austrian websites. By fixed width I mean that for mobile users the website is displayed small and zoomed out. They have to zoom in to see any text, which is very annoying. At that point, it does not matter if a visitor has a specific reason for visiting the website. For almost every single visitor this is a major hassle to deal with. That people will leave the website on their first chance.
Therefore, when it comes to websites with a lot of text, it is good to inform the users, but before we inform them, we need to get their attention. For example, Wikipedia has lots of text on their website, but they are known for great value. People who visit wikipedia go there with the sole purpose of reading a bunch of text.
Between Europe and North America there is not much difference between new websites. Older websites differentiate mainly in colour scheme choices, since colour means different things in different cultures. But as internet and social media has brought us more together, that is slowly vanishing. And from what I can see North America used to love more gradient colours creating a 3D effect, whole Europe liked more flat, straight colours.
- How much budget on average should they spend on website and digital strategy?
This question is akin to asking an athlete what is the average time they spend on training. The athletes who spend more time training, and most of all „intelligent training“, are the ones who win more frequently. The same applies to digital strategy. Digital strategy is part of marketing and selling. You might have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about it then unfortunately it doesn’t hold much value.
Prices range with simple websites to more complicated ones. In the end it depends what the client wants. As every approach is different, it also depends on how much handholding they need, and how much they are willing to learn and do themselves.
To be continued…
The second part of this interview you can find here: