If the President of the United States were doing a “State of Small Business Website Design” speech, I think he would say that the state is very strong. While certainly there have been some silly trend detours in recent years (anyone else thrilled to see the Pinterest style site go way?) overall, I like the way site design is moving… toward more clarity and clearer calls to action.
Here are five trends that I am keeping an eye on this year:
“Ambient Video”: In late 2015, almost every new website I saw launched for larger companies featured what I like to call ambient video. This is the silent video that appears as the background on the website and tells a story about the product or service the company offers. Take a look at the Cultural Care Au Pair website for a good example. As with many trends amongst larger businesses, I see this one starting to permeate the smaller business landscape in the coming year.
Custom Drawn Illustrations: Website layouts are looking more and more similar. The reason for that is that simplicity and functionality requires sticking to a formula. To break from that formula, I have been seeing sites moving toward custom drawn illustrations. Take a look at this ecommerce site as a great example of how hand illustrations can take a layout you see everywhere and make it seem fresh. This trick works particularly well with non-graphic friendly industries.
Simpler Design, Bolder Call to Action: As people become less focused on creating brochures online and more focused on driving discrete actions, the best new sites I am seeing feature simpler and more focused design that drives specific user actions using bold calls to action. Take a look at the simplicity of the Wufoo site. Do you have any question what you are supposed to do on that page? (Guess whose site is moving to a look like this?)
Stepping Back from the Super Scrolly Websites of 2015: Thank goodness! If 2015 was the year of anything in website design, it was the year of the ridiculously long scrolling pages. Like most trends gone horribly awry, this one started out innocently enough. As sites got more mobile friendly, the bottom boundary of the monitor (or the fold as those of us more seasoned on the Internet call it) got less and less important. The issue with the trend is that taken to the extreme sites become less focused on ever… well… getting to the point. Take a look at the Eginstill site. It is hard to navigate and seems to dance around the action they want you to take. This might be me just being overly optimistic (Hey! It’s the beginning of a new year. I’m allowed to be optimistic.), but I see 2016 moving us back from this trend to shorter sites that get right to the point.
Responsive or Die: Responsive sites have been taking over the web since they hit their stride in 2013. In 2015 though, the Google “Mobilegeddon” release added fuel to that trend. I see 2016 as being even less kind to non-responsive (or at least non-mobile-friendly) sites. Businesses whose sites are non-responsive will continue to lose traffic and the traffic they have will bounce even more quickly
Of course even the most aesthetically pleasing website design won’t be able to convert browsing to business if the message is confusing. Website design and content should fit together seamlessly. Thinking about what design best enhances the message you want to convey is a recipe for creating a functional website that provides the best user experience possible. So, be sure to check back with me next week to discuss the State of Website Content.
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