Many people look at the world as if there are two types of people: artists and scientists. Creatives and analysts. Eccentrics and professionals.
As technology seeps into more areas of our lives, though, we're seeing more and more fields that blend those two personalities. Website design is a perfect example.
A great web design has an artistic appeal that showcases your brand with a "Wow!" factor. It also needs to make good use of programming principles to operate in an efficient way.
Part of striking that balance over and over again is keeping up with recent trends. Aesthetic principles and technical best practices are always evolving, and a great web designer needs to have a grasp on both.
If it's time to overhaul your website or start from scratch, here are the latest web design trends that could serve you well.
If you're ready to bring your site into the 21st century, check out this year's best trends:
In the early days of the internet and until recent years, companies' websites were rather static. They were brochures that happened to be on computer screens. Today, all that is changing.
Businesses are adding more and more interactive ways for users to work with their websites. They're including interactive maps of their locations. They're adding dynamic models of their products, letting users click on individual parts to learn more.
There are countless examples of interactive web design and companies in every industry are using it to enhance their users' experiences.
The key to implementing interactive web design is to make it fit with your brand. It should be a natural addition that makes sense, not a gratuitous way to make your site look high-end.
One fun idea is to add a game-like element to your site. Another option is to include an interactive tour of your office to help customers get to know you. The possibilities are endless, so find ways that make sense with your site's purpose.
However, it's important to make sure your interactive elements don't make your site load too slow. No matter how impressive a site may be, users will leave if it doesn't load within a few seconds.
Stock photography has long been a popular way to give websites a professional look in a cost-effective way. In the past few years, though, we're seeing more and more sites opt for custom illustrations instead.
There are a few reasons why this is happening. Part of the trend is simple: illustration is popular look today in fashion, graphic design, and beyond. It follows that people will like the same design elements online as they do in the material world.
Another reason illustrative art is now popular is due to the originality it offers. Most stock photos have a clear generic air about them. They look polished but standard and they don't contribute much to your brand.
Instead of run-of-the-mill stock photography, companies are opting for the more unique look of custom illustrations. It gives them great control over their final look and it's often more cost-effective than custom photography.
The key to great illustrative art is to make sure the illustrator understands your brand well. You have the luxury of being hyper-specific, so use it. It's a common mistake to get caught up in artistic ingenuity and let the brand fall by the wayside.
It's also crucial to settle on an illustration style and use it throughout your website. Include illustrated elements on every page and make them consistent.
Another important caveat to illustrated art: make sure it's high-quality. Some brands fit with a sketch-like style, but it should still have a professional and intentional air about it. Your site shouldn't look like you hired an elementary school class to design it.
This isn't so much of a trend as a necessity, so it warranted a spot on this list. Responsive web design is a way of building your site so it looks right on any size of browser window. Users should have little or no need to scroll left to right.
Responsive web design is the most comprehensive way to make your site mobile-friendly. This is important because Google now considers how user-friendly your site is on mobile devices when it ranks you in search results.
Imagine investing time and money into search engine optimization and having it go to waste because your site is cumbersome for mobile users.
One of the mistakes many businesses make with responsive web design is that they design the site with desktop browsers in mind and "make it work" for mobile. In today's on-the-go world, over 51% of web traffic comes from mobile devices.
Considering that the majority of your users will be seeing your site on a mobile device, you should design it for them first. Make sure you keep an eye out for issues after the site is live as well because browser updates could break features and functions on your site.
Old school web designers would design their sites on an invisible grid. Everything was laid out in a squared-off, well-aligned way.
Today's web design is all about breaking barriers, and the grid is the first to go. Now designers are overlaying design elements on top of each other, using staggered patterns, and more. This offers a more modern and artistic look.
There is such a thing as breaking the grid too much, and it's important that you avoid it. You still want your site to have a strategic flow.
It's important that you keep the user experience (UX) in mind throughout the design. As great and eye-catching as artistic design placement can be, you shouldn't sacrifice usability for it.
It can be difficult to recognize when navigation and usability is a problem if you know how the site is supposed to function. You can do some easy user testing by showing the site design to someone who hasn't seen it before.
Give them tasks to perform and see how easy or hard it is for them to complete them.
If you're bored with standard photography and graphic designs in the background of a website, you're not alone. More and more sites are innovating by using customized videos for their backgrounds.
On some sites, the dynamic background is more of a slideshow than a video. Either way, it lets your brand's personality shine through more than a basic, static background does.
As creative as a video background can be, it can also sabotage your site if you don't do it right. It's important that it fits with your site's overall concept and your brand. The video should feel like a natural part of the site rather than a gratuitous flair.
It also shouldn't take away from the content of your site.
Another common pitfall with video backgrounds is the loading time. As you would expect, videos and slideshows require more power to load than a static background does. If half of your intended users click away from the site because it's taking too long to load, you're shooting yourself in the foot.
Sure, body positivity is a massive movement, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about curved lines and rounded corners replacing sharp, standard shapes in web design.
Keep in mind that using curvy lines doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your modern look. The colors and clean edges can still provide a modern style with the aesthetic interest of curvy lines.
Curvy lines have the subconscious advantage of giving your site a flow. You should use them to guide your user's eye around the site to various content items and navigation tools.
If you remember the internet in the 90s, you remember Flash. This application is design by Adobe as a way to implement animations and interactive elements into a site.
There's been a long battle between HTML and Flash, but it seems that a clear winner is emerging. The latest version of HTML, called HTML 5, offers a variety of features that Flash alone used to provide. As Google has begun pulling its support for Flash, Adobe has announced that they are killing Flash at the end of 2020.
You might be saying, "That's two years away, that's plenty of time!" Not so. Converting your site from Flash to HTML 5 is more complicated than pressing a button. There's no telling what issues could arise along the way, so now is the time to start.
Did you know the average person in the US spends about two hours per day on social media? Not only does that mean that social media marketing is vital, but it also means you need to integrate it into your web design.
People using social media tend to navigate all around the internet as well. They click on one interesting article, then watch another video, then click on an ad, and more.
Capitalize on that wandering spirit by helping them hop around between your site and your social media platforms.
This is the challenge: integrating your social media into your site without making it cumbersome. One way to do this is to add social media buttons throughout your content. This makes it easy for users to share your content, which benefits you in the long run.
Another idea is to show your social media feeds on your site. For instance, you could have a bar on the right side of your site called "What's On Our Instagram?" This way, you can get site visitors to follow you on social media while making that social media marketing more worthwhile.
We've all experienced the frustration of scrolling to the bottom of a web page, then having to scroll all the way back up to navigate elsewhere. Web designers in 2018 are saying, "No more!"
Today's trend is called a floating navigation bar. The top navigation bar is locked at the top of your browser so that it stays visible no matter where you are on the page. It's a simple UX update that makes a big difference.
The key to your floating navigation bar is making sure it doesn't block any part of the design or the content. You don't want to sacrifice usability to add a convenience feature.
Because this change means the navigation bar is always visible, you can also integrate it more into the design. Use the real estate to navigate but also to add a touch of aesthetic branding.
Web designers tend to have a love-hate relationship with web copy. They know it's the purpose of the site, but sometimes it gets in the way of a great-looking design.
In today's designs, we're seeing copy as a design element itself. Well-chosen line breaks and custom fonts make copy a focal point on the page but also a complement to the artistic elements.
In any web design, maintaining a copy/graphic balance is key and this is no exception. However, designers also make the mistake of taking creatively placed copy too far. They put it in areas that break up the flow or they make it too hard to read.
In the overcrowded digital landscape of 2018, every business wants their website to stand out. The latest web design trends above can help you give your site a "wow" factor. The key is finding that perfect balance between a beautiful design and a useful website, so keep users in mind throughout the design process.
If you're ready to step up your web design game, contact our web design experts.