Some Ground Rules
Don’t Let Trends Limit Your Thinking
Trends keep things exciting in the ever-changing world of web design, but they aren’t the defining characteristic of a functional website.
There are certain universal trends that can apply to many website design cases, but it’s important to investigate your unique situation. As with everything else in life, there are pros and cons to utilizing trends. Use them as a guideline, but don’t be afraid to go outside of the box.
Trends Have Emerged for a Reason
Website design trends emerge for a reason. More times than not, a trend is the website design community’s response to the way that users are utilizing and indicating how they want to utilize websites.
For example, a long-scrolling, layered page design that has become prominent is because users wanted more digestible content areas.
Trend: Extinction of Sliders/Carousels
In the early 2000’s, sliders (also known as carousels) were introduced to the world of web design. The creation of sliders was brought about by the idea that users would receive and retain more information if the content was delivered to them at a faster rate.
Sliders Cause Banner Blindness
Since it’s inception, however, design science has proven the phenomenon known as “banner blindness.”
The carousel moves too quickly—causing the user’s eye to go blind when the slider changes. This addition to design caused more problems than the solutions it promised to create. We’re seeing a steady extinction of sliders and carousels in modern website design, especially websites developed by progressive agencies/practitioners.
Trend: Longer-Spanning Content Areas
In the days of old, “too much” whitespace was seen as a bit of an issue. Some designers believed that the elimination of whitespace would give users a better experience. It was very prevalent.
They believed that it was a utilization of space—feeding the user as much information as possible.
Nowadays, content areas are spread over the length of a page like so—
This makes the content more digestible and easier to explore by the user who is looking to scroll to learn, rather than being faced with an explosion of information all at once. You want to guide the user, not bombard them with word vomit.
Trend: Overall Bigger Elements
Your website should be designed with your user in mind. If you have text that is too small, older readers are going to struggle through each page.
Much like the previous trend, things are getting bigger. Font sizes are increasing along with the overall sizing of content layers (or sections). This goes back to the notion above—users want to scroll and digest.
Information overload doesn’t work anymore in today’s modern business landscape.
Trend: Passing the Baton to Videos
Videos can be a powerful marketing asset, but only when they’re done correctly.
A current trend is having a video button at the top of pages, especially on the home page.
While it’s great to see more videos, don’t let that prevent you from filling in the content areas down below. Not every user is going to watch the video, or finish it, so make sure the entire page matches the depth of the content.
You have to keep in mind that every user is going to be different. It’s best to accommodate everyone who comes across your page. Some visitors will be more interested in reading information while others are prefer to watch videos.
Trend: Resource Hubs
Websites have gone from placeholder-like resumes to bonafide resource hubs. We’re seeing a significant increase in blogging and online content built to educate prospective clients/customers. This is partly due to a rise of inbound marketing practices.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to create content that will resonate with visitors and compel them to take action.
Your website is one of your greatest marketing assets. Use it wisely by putting effort into the content you are creating. It should be gold that is a proper representation of what your brand is all about.
Trend: Increased Emphasis on Internal Pages
The main focus of a website used to be all about the homepage design with a less-refined eye on the internal pages. This was because, in most circumstances, the first place someone would end up was on the home page.
The likelihood of someone ending up on an internal page (about, contact, service, blog, etc.) today, however, is very high. This is because a great deal of internal page content is being shared on social media or uncovered via search engines. Because of this, we’re seeing an increased emphasis on internal pages design.
Trend: Websites Are the Central Crossroads for an Organization
Websites are the crossroads for all communication. This trend has grown over the years to become a marketing communications truth.
Story placement to billboard messaging to word of mouth to advertising all leads directly to your website as a next step. Websites are becoming the ultimate deal closer and follow-up source.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, your website is your digital presence. It’s one of the first interactions that people will have with your organization. Creating a one-of-a-kind website is as crucial as all of the work you do on a day to day basis.
Keep These Trends in Mind
Trends emerge for a reason. Keep these in mind when you’re designing and developing your website. Again, you don’t have to let them limit your thinking, or put you in a box. It is important, however, to be aware of what’s trending before deciding to intentionally go against them.
What website design and development trends have you seen emerge?