educational

Current Trends in Website Design

Stephen Yagielowicz

Achieving real financial success in online adult entertainment requires a means of standing out from the crowd, in order to attract and retain visitors in today’s extremely completive marketplace.

One method of doing this involves presenting a fresh, unique approach that utilizes an array of leading edge technologies and robust feature sets — website ingredients that add to a site’s coding complexity and bandwidth requirements — bloating pages and slowing download speeds. It is a recipe for hidden disasters in a world that values speed above all.

Many current generation adult websites are adopting a responsive, minimalist design approach.

At the same time, many current generation adult websites are adopting a responsive, minimalist design approach, which seeks to serve both fixed and mobile Internet users via the same platform: a move intended to capitalize on the growing ranks (and profitability) of tablet users, but without going the “full app” route. But by trying to be all things to all users, many of these designs are lackluster in their appearance and function, even if they “fit” on every imaginable screen — and do so, quickly — satisfying the need for speed.

Of course, the best digital craftsmen will search out a happy medium that balances the needs of feature-hungry fans with the realities and limitations of modern display and data delivery platforms.

For a closer, fresher look at the possibilities, we can turn to the mainstream design world where a less formulaic approach is more common than is the “this is how we do it” mindset that has become entrenched amongst many veteran pornographic pixel pushers.

Although most of these techniques and practices have been around for awhile, they are all trending in popularity, with creativity providing an opportunity to mix and match whatever suits the needs of your site and its audience.

First off, let’s start by dropping support for older versions of MSIE.

Personally, this author has been a longtime supporter of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer — since version 2 of this venerable software hit the market many years ago — but 2013 brings with it a dynamic computing environment where the old standbys are fading fast.

Unfortunately, more than a third of the marketplace still continues to use obsolete versions of Internet Explorer, often because these users are still on legacy Windows XP powered systems, which are incapable of running any of the latest versions of Microsoft’s popular web browser.

While best practices mean accommodating the various quirks of widespread browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari, backwards compatibility and the desire for graceful degradation can only go so far in the face of security concerns and an outright inability to perform the tasks expected of it — such as supporting HTML5 along with other advanced (but now commonplace) technologies.

As such, an increasing number of sites are displaying “sorry” screens, redirecting old IE version users to a “mobile” version of their site, or trading IE visitors off the network.

The question becomes, “Do you provide users with a bad experience, or lose them entirely instead?” While some salesmen will feel that any prospect is a good prospect, the prevalence of user reviews and social media comments means that losing one chance at a sale may be better than losing countless chances due to a poor reputation caused by bad design choices and the resulting consumer uproar.

Once free of the shackles of supporting legacy and low market share environments, developmental efforts and resources can be focused on other concerns.

For example, robust navigation is often a tricky proposition, especially on responsive website designs where the main or secondary navigational tools are hidden, or otherwise compromised, as the available screen real estate shrinks.

For those seeking to maximize features and the overall user experience, fixed headers are one way of finding an easy solution that places branding and buttons front and center — always within reach and expandable as needed. Unlike traditional web pages where the header scrolls out of view as content is consumed, this approach uses CSS to mimic the effect once obtained via framesets; providing a solid navigational and informational anchor for website visitors.

On the minimalist front, the trend is towards mobile-style navigational toggles, where the menu (or a submenu) is triggered via a header link. You can seen an example of this in the mobile / tablet version of AWE’s popular live webcam sites, which feature a left of screen fly-out menu. Of course, these menus can still be robust from a feature standpoint, but their Spartan nature when closed makes them ideal for responsive layouts, especially when used as a component in a fixed header design.

If you think that it’s best to go big or go home, then the use of full screen background images or sliding photo panels may appeal to you, as may video backgrounds; a tempting technique for adult applications that maximizes a site’s visual impact.

If your tastes are more subtle than this, then the use of CSS transparency effects may be more suitable, and definitely in vogue; as is titanic typography, vector illustrations and CSS driven animations, especially when performed without additional non-CSS scripting.

Other interesting trends include the incorporation of quick response (QR) codes on any pages of your site that are likely to get printed; robust adoption of social media tools for sharing content and attracting new visitors; and the type of “infinite page scrolling” metaphor made popular by Pinterest — a navigational metaphor that is well suited to the content rich applications found on adult sites such as TGPs, MGPs and tubes.

On the topic of HTML5, there’s no good excuse for not having upgraded yet, but that doesn’t mean there are not excuses — typically made by legacy website operators as the rapid pace of technology leaves them behind. If you’re not using HTML5 yet, do it now. Finally, the use of “warning” pages is rising on adult websites, often with transparent overlays and modal dialog boxes. While in use by responsible operators for years, these techniques are being reinvigorated in response to the actions being taken by governments around the world to require age verification and informed consent.

While you are at it, add a free Restricted To Adults (RTA) meta-label, to help prevent minors from accessing your website (RTALabel.org).

Accompanying these design trends are lightweight, minimalist landing pages that typically incorporate a focused message targeting a specific niche audience; and that in their most simplistic forms, serve as a one-click sales point (think combination warning / join pages similar to those used by old school AVS sites).

While many of these methods have been well established, their use is becoming ever more widespread, with creativity guiding their combination and unique implementation.

By adopting the best techniques and practices of adult and mainstream designers, porn publishers will be able to embrace and engage new concepts and markets, giving these businesses a much needed competitive edge.

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