We all know that the terms technology and advancement go hand in hand—the industry can’t, and won’t, stop growing. The same can be said about the Internet. New apps, sites, platforms, models and methodologies appear every day, and as a whole, the Internet has changed the way we exist.
Thus, it’s no surprise that the state of web design is a very fluid thing, with new ideas coming to the forefront every day; some of which enhance how we use the web altogether.
That said, whether or not you actively think about it, web and user experience (UX) design plays a big role in your life. Think about the look and functionality of today’s best sites. Did they operate the same in 2007? No way. Today, they probably function far better than they did back then.
Great trends graduate to become norms. Take the term mobile friendly for example. Three years ago, having a mobile friendly website was something to Tweet home about, but today it’s just expected that your site is optimized for mobile devices. Let’s take a glance at prominent trends in web and UX design that are relevant right now, and will help your business. Maybe one of them will become the next mobile friendly one day.
One of technology’s biggest challenges has been its ability to develop machines that can communicate with humans on a useful level. There’s work to be done yet, but at this point it’s safe to say we’ve come a long way in machine communication, and companies are rolling out chatbots on their sites and social media pages.
Chatbots offer a great means of increasing UX in a way that makes managing customer inquiries simple. As your volume of users increases, it becomes hard to scale for human-to-human communication, and chatbots are a powerful resolution to that issue. Better yet, they don’t gossip at the water cooler, and as they develop, your ability to communicate with and serve customers will only get easier—which is great news for your brand loyalty and bottom line.
Yes, it’s a term I just invented, so remember that when the term trends on Twitter. Flatness has been the preferred aesthetic in relevant web design for a few years, but now things are shifting toward Flat-point-O, which maintains the overall spirit of two-dimensional, simple designs, while tastefully and subtly drawing forward the more important stuff using slight shadows. It’s a great way to rethink hierarchy without forfeiting relevancy or UX.
The days of putting EVERYTHING above the infamous “fold” (the area at the top of a website that displays before a user scrolls) are about as relevant as pop-overs, so modern websites are spreading their content down the page more. Today’s users know to scroll down, but visual aids that gently remind them to do so are still useful. Background gradients come in handy there, as they naturally draw the eye downward.
Your eye will naturally follow the changing color, but those colors won’t take your attention away from the information they’re leading you to. If your site is top heavy from an overload of content above the fold, consider spreading your content out and adding a gradient in the background.
Geometric compositions have been the norm in website design for a long time, but pioneers are starting to do away with that. Asymmetrical design that actually looks good and maintains the ability to convert is difficult to achieve, but if done well, can make a brand really stand out ahead of the pack.
If you’re one of our clients, we probably won’t be turning your site into a piece of abstract expressionism any time soon, but it will be interesting to see if Internet starts to break free of geometry in favor of interesting compositions.
Lato is a great font—it’s simple to read, web friendly and utilitarian. But there’s also nothing overly exciting about it. As we’re learning in 2017, sometimes it’s OK to break away from uniformed simplicity with decorative fonts.
Typography is powerful in a unique way. Not only do the words used carry a message, but the physical letters create a mood and help evoke emotion. If you can use interesting typography that effectively tells your story, while looking good, going beyond the Lato and Helvetica will provide better UX for your users.
P.S., this is not permission to use 13 fonts on your website. Please don’t do that.
BONUS: 3 Antiquated Trends That Didn’t Make It
We know that mobile friendliness is now a standard, but fate was grimmer for some other trends that popped up (and popped-over) along the way. In a world where quality UX is revered, these three noteworthy trends have been mostly laid to rest.
1. Pop-overs: We all know the feeling of frustration when we’re trying to read an article and all of a sudden, a pop-over overrides your experience and takes up your whole screen to deliver a promotion or message completely unrelated to what you’re on the site for in the first place. Fortunately, the pop-over trend is mostly kaput.
2. Skeuomorphic Design: Or, computer-rendered designs and artwork that aims to vividly reflect what it’s portraying in as lifelike a capacity as possible. While skeuomorphic designs can be cool, they’ve proven to be mostly unnecessary. Today’s trends favor simplicity and flatness, and skeuomorphic designs are neither of those things.
3. Autoplay Everything: Flash videos, embedded music, pop up ads, to name a few. We already suffer from enough media bombardment in our daily lives, and when websites started to follow suit, it wasn’t long before the autoplay everything craze was sunset.
In closing, while I would encourage you to implement some of these trends into your website, it’s important that every change you make has a functional purpose. Why are you adding a chatbot? Do you really to be? Gradients are nice in general, but is one going to conflict with the rest of your site?
Ask yourself these questions, and use common sense, and I promise both the Internet and your conversion rates will be better off. Good luck out there in the Wild West.