2017 is shaping up to be a year of change and for start-ups, an excellent opportunity to launch a bold new website incorporating the latest design trends. So what website design features worked in 2016 and what can we expect to see more of in 2017?
Some of the more ‘out there’ website design trends include features like virtual reality in the browser (check out Magic Leap for a taste of things to come), Chatbots and AI-powered interfaces like Zo.
Here at Activate Design, we looked at what worked for us regarding web and graphic design from our own work in Christchurch and other design sites around the net. Focusing mainly on startups or new online businesses, we’ve picked five design tips for startup websites that we think are both cool and (more importantly) will improve the user experience for your customers. A survey by Adobe found that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive, so we not just talking window-dressing here, a good website design is crucial to customer engagement.
Minimalist design was big in 2016 and will continue in popularity for two good reasons:
- It removes visual clutter and helps users to get things done more efficiently.
- Websites with clean, simple interfaces that offer a cohesive mobile and desktop experience win big with users and customers.
Many sites are stripping back the extras and focusing on their content. This means fewer links, banners, etc. and more white space, which encourages scrolling and exploration. Simple sites load much faster, a vital feature for your site, as most users will abandon a website if it takes more than 2 seconds to load.
One feature of minimalism that hasn’t proved to be so successful is Flat Design, where links can be so subtle that users don’t know where to click and become confused. Semi-Flat Design (also known as Flat Design 2.0), introduces subtle shadows, highlights and layers that give users the necessary signifiers to navigate your site without frustration.
Related article: What are the Advantages and Disdavantages of Using Flat Design
Image credit: wikia.com
As Nick Babich from uxplanet.org describes them, micro-interactions are ‘subtle moments centred around accomplishing a single task’. These can be hovers, click animations, scrolling effects or many other simple techniques that improve UX. in 2017, more of these features will be incorporated into the mobile web, as screen sizes grow and customers expect to do more on their smartphones and tablets.
A good micro-interaction:
- Provides feedback to the user
- Gives them a sense of being in control
- Encourages them to act (the call to action)
3. Landing Pages
Image credit: formstack.com
Homepages are so ‘last year’! Actually home pages are still vital but more and more, the way to grow your business in the online space is through dedicated landing pages that form part of a unified content strategy. For a lean startup, this approach is particularly effective; you can use social media to generate interest in your company while avoiding the high costs associated with traditional advertising.
93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (Source ImForza.com), which means website visitors are not necessarily entering through the ‘front door’, so it pays to create SEO-optimised landing pages that deal more directly with the needs of your potential customers.
As the internet becomes more like television, moving visual elements such as animations, GIF’s and cinemagraphs can play a great role in conveying concepts and bringing your site to life. Simple animations load much quicker than video or high-res photos and offer startups a great visual tool to explain abstract concepts. A captivating animation or a cheeky Cinemagraph can also buy you valuable extra eyeball time and keep visitors on your site for longer.
Cinemagraphs are basically classy animated GIFs. They usually employ subtle movement that is appealing without the potential annoyance factor of GIFs. Check out these beautiful examples of Cinemagraphs here.
Related article: Effective Website Design
Image credit: quotesgram.com
In this post-truth age, with fake news and an overload of information, credibility and trustworthiness are valuable assets. Website design can play a role in communicating these attributes. The renowned UX expert Jakob Nielsen offers the following advice to enhance website credibility:
- Websites should have a professional look with clear navigation and no typos!
- Be upfront. Disclose all relevant information, e.g. shipping charges.
- Be comprehensive, correct and current. Any old photos or dead links will send users away.
- Connect to other sites. Links to other third-party sites is a sign of confidence and standing.
At Activate Design, we proudly acknowledge our Christchurch based location as a Website and Graphic Design company. In this way, customers are reassured that there is a solid, bricks and mortar company behind it all (well, steel and glass in our case!).
It's important to remember that while website design can evolve rapidly from year to year, the online habits of users change very slowly and we need to accommodate their needs by keeping to good human-centered design principles.
So there you go, five website design tips to incorporate into your next website. If you’d like more information on any of these design tips, give us a call or email us. Stay tuned for next month’s blog post where we look at the best internet marketing strategies for small businesses in 2017.
- 6 Startup Tips to Make your Business Successful
- Top Trending Website Design Inspirations
- Why You Should Make Your Web Design Responsive
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Posted in Web Design
Are you as excited as we are? We’ve scoured the web for the best web design trends that will be transforming the internet in 2015. Some of them you may have heard of already, like responsive design. Others just might blow your mind. Either way, the future looks bright and we’re excited to be a part of it.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but if responsive design isn’t the future then I don’t know what is. Have a look around you on a given day. People are on their smart phones, iPhones, tablets and iPads all the time. The future is in mobile friendly design. In the last few years responsive design has secured itself as the new standard for web design to the point where it has ceased to be a trend and can now just be considered the norm. If you’re not on board then you’re very behind.
Who Ya Gonna Call?...
…Ghost Buttons! Ghost buttons are a prominent design feature in many web designs and it’s no wonder. These buttons are not only minimalist and stylish but they’re a blast to use. Hover animation?! Yes please. As they pair well with the bold and beautiful backgrounds that we’ll see popping up over the next year, these ghosties are something to keep your eye on and to get acquainted with.
We’re Bringin’ Sexy Back
It’s one thing to have hot content, another to present it beautifully. In 2015, there’s going to be a bigger focus on typography. Web kits for type are notoriously expensive until now. Type kits are becoming more affordable or sometimes even FREE with Google Fonts. This means there’s a lot more freedom for designers working with smaller budgets to bring their mad typography skills to overflowing and ever-competitive the web design table. This also means that WordPress theme designers will focus on making stylish type-centric design possible for anyone with a well-designed WordPress theme. Whoop!
Savvy web designers will be saying a lot with big, bold and beautiful background images and videos. It’s one of the easiest ways to make your site stand out so make sure you’re featuring excellently written content against a powerful image. This future trend is an elegant way to strengthen your brand/style/philosophy.
Scrolling with da homies:
Scrolling is imperative to a positive user experience on the web, so say goodbye to clicking. Scrolling allows a more dynamic interaction to occur between users and websites. It’s more intuitive and really, it’s just easier to use for navigation. You’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future.
Aw! Look who’s growing up! Flat design is being touted as Google’s new direction for mobile design and everything else really. Only they’re calling it ‘Material Design’. Let’s have a quick look at the main principles:
1. Material is the metaphor: The first principle is an attempt to ground our digital experience in tactile reality. The material metaphor is moving away from skeuomorphism while embracing ink, paper, shadows, and depth. Material Design will reinvent and reimagine objects that exist in the physical world without breaking the laws of physics.
2. Bold, graphic, intentional: The second principle deals with print design. Visual elements can’t just look pretty, they have to create meaning. Material Design emphasizes deliberate colour choices, large typography (yes!), and the intentional use of white space to create an ideal user experience.
3. Motional provides meaning: The third principle of Material Design emphasizes the movement. Motion needs to provide visual feedback without being distracting. It feels authentic and needs to respect the physical reality of mass and weight. Objects will use swift acceleration and gentle deceleration to provide the user with a believable sense of motion.
Material Design is a mostly flat design that uses very subtle gradients, layering, and animation to retain a sense of the tangible world while still achieving all the advantages of flat design. Sounds amazing to me.
Think Micro not Macro
Good things come in small packages. So, what are these micro-interactions that so many people are talking about? They’re pretty cool: Micro-interactions are contained experiences or moments within a module on a website that revolve around a single use basis. For example, take the email sign-up box that pops up on a website. It’s moving which gives it a playful personality to a graphic that would otherwise be static and maybe a little boring. Micro-interactions like this serve to increase user engagement.
Tell Me a Story
The combination of everything I’ve mentioned so far has one collective goal: Creating a better platform for telling compelling stories and narratives. I’m not saying that every web site should have a story, but a brand is constructed from a series of values and everything from font choice to web copy embodies this. You’ve heard it before: Content is King. There’s a reason why this saying is constantly thrown around on the Internet. People are smarter and busier. They don’t have the time to sit around on a website that has boring content. If you can create a story using well written content combined with incredible images and design elements, you can be sure your website will stand out. Getting noticed is the game. So get amongst it.
It’s a Wrap
One of the best things about being a web designer is how fast things move. To be excellent in this game, you’ve got to be willing to adapt. When we look at future trends, we get excited for several reasons. One, it’s pretty fun trying out new techniques. Two, it’s great to be learning new tricks on the job. But most importantly, it makes us better designers. We’re pretty lucky to have a fluid arsenal of web design theories and skills: they allow us to create anything. Our only limitations are ourselves. If you’re interested in applying any of these new web design features to your current site, get in touch. We’re excited to put the future to use.
- Why You Should Make Your Web Design Responsive
- Top Trending Website Design Inspirations
- How Responsive Web Design Could Help your Business
Posted in Web Design