TL; DR: In the 20+ years since he founded Allwebco Design, Erich Vokral has seen more than a few trends come and go. He’s also learned what makes for timeless web design — a range of flexible, functional templates that allow developers to improve user experience while increasing efficiency. We recently sat down with Erich to learn how Allwebco Design’s portfolio of downloadable design templates meets developers’ needs and get the scoop on the company’s future plans.
If you haven’t heard, there’s an ongoing battle in the music industry. It’s known as the loudness war, a trend in which a technique called dynamic range compression is leading to escalated audio levels in recorded music.
The technique reduces the range of sound on an album to allow for a louder volume overall. In recent years, recording companies have been using it more frequently under the presumption that louder is better. But critics say it’s destroying music by reducing sound quality.
Erich Vokral, Founder of Allwebco Design, likens the trend to the recent shift in web design toward the use of big, bold fonts and imagery. Just as quality is the casualty of increasingly loud music, Erich believes current design trends sacrifice user experience in the name of supersized visuals.
“Music has gotten louder and louder over the years through compression because it’s assumed that the louder the music, the more people are apt to buy it,” Erich said. “To correlate that with web design, in the last I’d say two to three years all the content management systems decided that websites should have huge fonts and be really wide — and that’s a trend I think is going to go away.”
Erich said visuals are just one aspect of superior web design, and developers prioritize functionality over the latest fad. “Websites have to be human-friendly,” he said. “Regardless of design trends, if you visit a site and see huge images and text but can’t find the information you need, you will leave.”
The company’s solution is to monitor design trends while maintaining common sense. “We recently went bigger with our designs, but we still have more information available right up front,” Erich said. “Designs change every four or five years, no doubt, but a lot of our clients are developers who have been on the web for a long period of time.”
For clients old and new, Allwebco Design is checking all the boxes with flexible, responsive templates that are continually updated to present developers with an ideal solution that ultimately keeps workflows running smoothly and efficiently.
Flexible, SEO-Compatible Templates with No Monthly Fees
Allwebco Design is an arm of AllWebCo, a leading provider of professional and affordable hosting solutions. Erich started the design portion of the company in 1996 after stumbling upon the idea to develop pre-made websites.
“I didn’t invent templates, but I was doing web development by myself and thought that a pre-made website ready for someone to download, enter their content, and upload would be a good idea,” he said.
At the time, a site could cost upwards of $1K. In contrast, Erich’s stand-alone templates started at just $45 with no monthly fees. “I started with about a dozen templates or so, and they just started selling — I was shocked,” he said.
The business grew from there, especially appealing to developers looking for a flexible solution tailored to client need. “A content management system is a fine thing, but you’re limited by what they allow you to add and how you want to lay out the page,” Erich said. “Our downloadable templates are flexible enough that you can do anything, no matter how intricate the site is.”
Of course, even the most perfect site is useless if not found. In terms of SEO, all templates include standard meta tags with title tags — one of the most critical meta elements on a site — that are set up for custom editing.
Download Continuously Updated Designs Exclusive to Allwebco
Developers who purchase Allwebco Design templates can rest assured they won’t see the template they choose for sale on multiple sites across the web — all designs are unique to the company.
The company also stands out from the competition in that all templates are hand-coded internally. “Template Monster came in a little bit after me, but they became the biggest because they had outsourced all their design,” Erich said. “We’ve never done that; all of our templates are built in-house.”
Each template is under constant development to ensure up-to-the-minute compatibility across browsers, with downloads of updated templates available for free on all previous purchases.
As a bonus, the graphics displayed in each template come free with each download, potentially saving developers money on stock photos.
Choose From Responsive Designs and Integrated Mobile Sub-Sites
Responsive design, a well-established best practice in which layout adapts based on screen size, is essential in today’s increasingly mobile world.
“One of the biggest changes we’ve seen is, of course, the move to responsive design,” Erich said. “You can update a website to be responsive, but it’s difficult and involved. It’s much easier to start with a whole new responsive design and plug your information into that.”
Fortunately, Allwebco Design offers a variety of mobile-compatible templates tested on a range of popular devices. Built specifically to pass Google’s mobile-friendly test, the company’s responsive sites are configured for optimization on smartphones and include full functionality on desktops and laptops.
Alternatively, the company’s mobi-Hybrid® templates can serve as a sub-site that complements existing desktop sites that are not mobile-friendly. Features include smaller images, compact menus, and a simplified footer for faster load times and better mobile viewing. Erich said the solution is perfect for developers who want to target smartphone users without taking on the risks involved with revamping a site.
“I’ve seen it happen so many times — you make a major design change from regular to responsive and drop in the Google rankings for the first two or three months pretty drastically no matter what you do,” he said. “That’s just the way the Google algorithms work these days.”
Coming Soon: 2019 Designs to Incorporate CSS Animation
One trend that’s set to influence web design in a significant way is the strategic use of animation, which can be integrated throughout a site to engage users and make digital storytelling more effective. Allwebco Design is wholeheartedly adopting this trend in its newest templates while ensuring they meet current web standards.
“Originally, our templates featured animated Flash headers, but Flash got a bad rep due to its vulnerability to viruses, and Apple stopped supporting it,” Erich said. “So we removed those years ago.”
This approach is in tune with the company’s aforementioned progressive yet cautious nature, which balances booming trends with softer, tried-and-true web design techniques. “You have to be careful when you update your website,” Erich said. “You want to improve upon it, but you don’t want to ruin the success you’ve already had.”