“The content is so awesome, I don’t mind reading the lime green lettering on the yellow background!” said no one ever. Truth is, a compelling video or exceptional page of content is no good if viewers cannot locate and access it properly. Poor website design elements – including complex navigation, poor flow and color choice, or low quality appearance – can cause a negative impact on bounce rating. In 2014, many customers make their first impression of a company on the appearance and functionality of the company’s website.
Since the internet is an up-to-the-second platform, so too are the trends that govern it. Some trends are beneficial to adopt, while others offer more drawbacks than advantages. Which trends are the best and which will bust?
Consider the following major trends when upgrading or revamping the company website:
#1: The Parallax Paradox
Different types of scrolling are suitable for different industries and company personas. Companies wanting to make a splash with unique site movement may choose a fully horizontal scroll or a parallax. For companies with a content-driven website, an infinite scroll will allow for many compartments of content without the overly-complex page structure and risk of broken links.
Why it matters: Web users do not want to scroll through page after page to find your valuable content. Efficient scrolling eradicates that problem.
It is also imperative to indicate any information that might be lurking beneath the “fold,” so important content does not go unseen.
#2: You Are Here
Fixed Navigation is key, especially for content-driven sites or sites with ecommerce. When the navigation bar is fixed, it stays at the top of the viewing area, regardless of how far the user scrolls. This allows customers to move among pages of significant content and desired products with ease.
Why it matters: Convenience impacts customer retention. Improve the website bounce rate by making sure that customers move through several pages with ease.
#3: Mobile First
With a new website in development, companies must consider mobile first. Companies that benefit from a mobile first site design primarily include sites that would be used more often in-transit. Keep in mind – sites better developed for PC first should still be made mobile responsive.
Why it matters: Again, this design element is all about customer convenience. Mobile capabilities allow customers to order online, compare prices, see menus, and snag contact information from the convenience of a phone or tablet. The benefit for the company is that every site feature functions perfectly in mobile, because it was optimized for mobile access first. Mobile sites also allow for the harvesting of mobile data, which can be especially useful for making marketing-related decisions, such as when to post to social media and whether text-in promo codes are a viable incentive.
#4: The Making of an Icon
Simple line icons adhere to current aesthetic trends and advise navigation, calling customers to action. The simplistic look and uncomplicated imagery do not clutter media-rich websites or compete with other, more cinematic assets on the page, such as sliders, embedded videos, or products.
Why it matters: Customers want to know where to click, and the old “click here” hyperlink standby is out-of-date for web design. Buttons are a nice alternative, but the 3D look is antiquated and customers still need the CTA. Line icons are a nice compromise that keep the site looking streamlined and modern.
#5: Video Killed the Radio Star
Website videos should be embedded and made part of the design instead of being a mere link. In fact, linking to content is not preferred at all if it can be incorporated into the site instead.
Why it matters: This is twofold. For one, linked content directs traffic away from the website and oftentimes slows down the viewing process. In many cases customers do not follow the path to the destination content, and it goes unseen. Further, embedded content and site assets can be optimized to drive search results to the site, whereas content linked to other sites cannot.
#6: Rejection of Skeumorphism
Skeumorphism is the term for the idea of making images and content look “real” and “3D” with shadows and gradients. The concept of skeumorphism was huge at the turn of the decade, but it is now antiquated. In its place are geometric elements, clean lines, and a “flat” design.
Why it matters: While some customers may prefer the flashy skeumorphic site design of yesteryear, the cleanliness of today’s common thread is inarguable. What’s more, design elements no longer drown out the content and assets that should command consumer attention.
#7: Sliders are Out and the Hero Unit is In
Just as web users adapted to seeing a scrolling slider at the top of every website, a new static homepage element has stepped in its place. The “Hero Unit” is a term used to describe a static or semi-static page background with text overlay that essentially commands the viewing space. Web Designer Geoff Kimball demonstrates the Hero Unit on his site: the background is moving somewhat, but the concept doesn’t deviate, like in the case of a slider.
Why it matters: Sliders are distracting for users. Those that move too fast leave the content lost to viewers, and those that are too slow will lose viewer attention. Sliders that do not automatically rotate may go misinterpreted as a single image. This leaves companies with two choices: fill the slider with fluff, just in case it is ignored, or run the risk that important content is never ingested. The hero unit changes everything by commanding user focus.
#8: Typography & Font Exploration
Gone are the days when serif fonts were for text, sans serif fonts were for headings, and sticking to 2 was status quo. Now, experimentation with fonts is encouraged, even expected, especially as image overlays or on the homepage, where visual appeal is top priority.
Why it matters: Customers need to be directed to the important content on the site. Font variation provides another potential call to action.
It is imperative for business owners to consider the industry and audience when deciding on trend(s) to employ in a new site or upgrades to their existing website.
What’s your favorite web design trend?
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