Latest posts by Andrea Ferguson (see all)
- Do I Really Need to Care About GDPR? Maybe. - August 7, 2018
- Quick Thoughts on Where to Put Your Sidebar (or, Ode to the Sidebar) - March 7, 2017
- The Return of the Beautiful Web - March 5, 2017
Trends in design come and go, but the ones that survive in the fast-changing world of websites contribute directly to user experience, help you meet your goals, and serve a specific (and definable) purpose. Here are some of our favorites:
Websites that look good and work well no matter what screen size they’re viewed on (“responsive design”) are a must these days, and users expect them. Separate mobile versions of websites are no longer necessary (and can frustrate your users). Have a single, responsively-designed website that users will enjoy on their desktops, phones, and tablets.
One-page designs are popular (especially for sites with a high number of mobile users) since users now actually enjoy swiping to scroll. Regardless of how your website is viewed, though, “less is more” applies to websites too. Make it easy for users to get the information they need, then to contact you directly if they’d like to know more. Even if your site is intended to be a library of information and you don’t want personal contact with your users, you should still do everything you can to simplify their experience.
Images can tell stories better than words can, so include big, bold, beautiful, striking imagery throughout your site in lieu of lots of text. Layer a tagline over an image that conveys your product or philosophy, and you’ll catch users’ attention better than any paragraph-long mission statement. Keep it simple (e.g., one or two people rather than a crowd; colors that coordinate with your branding; not too much detail in backgrounds), and you’ll ensure that your story is told as well on mobile devices as it is on desktop monitors.
Large fonts aren’t just for the over-40 crowd (although if your audience is older, you should probably increase your point size by a few). Big fonts give immediate visual impact and can evoke stronger emotion in your site users, and they’re much-appreciated on small screen sizes. Web-based options like Google Fonts and Adobe Typekit provide more options than ever, including a “Display” category that specifically includes fonts that look great at large sizes.
Nothing shows your website’s age faster than rounded corners, drop shadows, and gradients. “Flat design” elements like big blocks of solid color, square corners, and simple icons are easier on the eyes and brain, help sites load faster, and scale more easily at different screen sizes. Of all the design trends, this one seems the most here-to-stay.
All this said, the emphasis of your website should be on content first, not design. A visually stunning website can dazzle your users and win graphic design awards (although it may take a while for your pages to load if they’re full of print-ready files and textures). But unless you have clean, clear content (words and images), well-organized and easy to find through intuitive navigation and simple user paths, your website won’t serve you. Keep the heavy graphic design for your printed materials, then incorporate selected elements from your print branding into your website so that all of your marketing materials work together. But focus on having great content first, then let your web design serve to support it.
Responsive, simple-yet-dramatic, with a focus on your content. How does your website look for 2015?