Every year someone comes out with an article about design trends. They write about colors and layout. They are all fine and some are even useful. Rather than redesigning your site year after year, I decided to give you my style trends that will never go out of style.
I know that your website has a ton of information that you want to share. Sharing it all at once is not the answer. This leads to confusion. Amazon’s website is a great example of being overwhelmed with information. You don’t know where to look first. In contrast, Google.com is probably the best site design out there. The whole reason you are at that site is to search and they made it simple.
To simplify your site, start with the primary reason your visitor has come to your site and break it down from there. Think of it as taking your visitor by the hand and leading them where they want you to go. You want your path to be clear of distractions. Keep it simple and uncluttered.
Simplicity and intuitiveness go hand and hand. Your design should anticipate how your visitor will use your site. You don’t want to have your visitor guess that the cartoon pig leads to billing information. If your typical user is not very web savvy, your design should reflect that.
The best, modern example of intuitiveness I can think of is the iPhone. We take for granted the little icons on the screen that we tap on but phones and phone apps didn’t always look like that. This design anticipated how the user would interact with the phone and designed around it. To this day, love it or hate it, the iPhone is the best at anticipating how a user will interact with the phone with one-hand.
When you design your site, you need to take that approach as well. Who will be using it?How will they be using it? What is the easiest path to conversion? Once these questions are addressed, your site will be much more intuitive to the user.
Visitors skim through text on a web page. They also don’t read down to the bottom of the page. The only way to prevent this is to write interesting text. Using a bunch of industry jargon to make you seem smart may be impressive but will the visitor understand what you do and what you can do for them. Truthfully, that is really what they are interesting in finding out.
A good approach is to break up long pages of text with subheadings. It gives the text the appearance of being small, digestible chunks. Using bullets helps as well. Remember this isn’t a dissertation, it’s sales text. Get to the point and move on.
This is the most overlooked design technique in web design. Whitespace doesn’t mean having white around an element on the page, it means giving each element some room to “breathe”. This will make the design more visually appealing as it will allow the visitor to see each element on the page individually as opposed to a bunch of visual noise.
Again going back to the Amazon versus Google homepage example, which site, visually, will make the visitor less anxious? Shoehorning in as much information as you can on a homepage and above the fold is not a wise approach. Use whitespace to focus the visitor’s eye on what you want to to see first and react to first. I used this quote by Steve Krug before but it is worth repeating: “Get rid of half of the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.” This can apply to elements on the page as well
No matter how good your website design is, it will be ruined by poor photography. Your iPhone is a great camera but here’s a bit of a photography tip, it’s about lighting. It’s about the contrast of lights and darks that make a photograph pop. What’s more, using professional short photographs will show your visitors that you are invested in your business.
Inversely, I’ve seen bad websites that are saved by great photography. We are visual people and we respond to visual cues emotionally. If you want a great example, take a look at the major hotel brands photography of their rooms. The subject of these photos is two queen beds and a night stand but they make it seem warm and inviting. Investing in good photography is just that, an investment and it’s worth doing.
No matter how many trends come and go over the years, these trends will never fade. They are the backbone of every great design. They are the basically the secret formula to a successful product or website.
There will continue to be articles on design trends however if you break them down, you will find that they all have these five elements. This will be the case time and time again. When you are ready to redesign your website, keep these five trends in mind and it will be a great design, I’m sure of it.