If your company’s website is static, it may as well be a printed pamphlet. Web surfers are a savvy lot, and they expect you to keep up with them. In the last few years that meant integrating social media and thinking beyond your website to your web presence. And now as people move to increasingly smaller screens doing most of their web browsing on handheld devices, tablets, and smaller touch screen hybrid laptops, web design is evolving once again. Here’s a look at some of the top design trends to embrace in 2015.
#1 Oversized Images
You may hear these called “hero images.” They are the large images that run borderless to the edges of your screen. You may have once only seen a hero image on the home screen and then perhaps sliders of other images. But now we see one large image after another as you scroll down the page with each image setting off another subject area or menu. Typography is important with these huge images so the topic, selling point, or call to action are clear. Some images may be sharp while others are slightly out of focus or a combination of a crisp foreground and softer background.
#2 Adaptive Design
Nothing is more frustrating than browsing a site on your smartphone or tablet that has tiny text and menus that can’t be navigated by touch. Adaptive design, which is different from responsive web design, relies on coding that recognizes what size screen you’re using and reshapes copy and images to conform to your screen size without any loss of legibility or functionality. Fluid grids allow your site to expand and shrink by percentages rather than pixels to assure visual quality. Fluid images ensure that your graphics appear proportionately and don’t pixelate. Media queries evaluate screen size and smartly adjust position of columns and copy.
#3 Card-Based Design
The movement toward card-based design is shaking up website architecture and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Cards have evolved largely due to the mobile tech revolution because it is so small-screen friendly. Cards let you aggregate your content by functionality, user interest, or prior customer activity. To visualize cards, think of the home screen of a Pinterest board. There’s an image with a small amount of content and perhaps a call to action or clickable link for the next action. This next action may be to see another card, to send a message, play a video, or add something to your cart.
#4 Stylized Typography
There’s a rule of thumb that you shouldn’t have more than two different fonts on a page. This adage still holds, but you don’t want to rely on an old standby like Times New Roman or Arial. On the other hand, you don’t want to try anything too out there that doesn’t jive with your branding, is too hard to read across your hero images, or too small to be interpreted. Google Fonts offers free typographies that can give your site better optics, enhance navigation, and help you stand out from competitors. Also consider increasing space between letters particularly when using all caps. Try beefing up to two pixels.
#5 Updated Content
Not only must you evolve your overarching site design periodically, but you need to update your content regularly. Offer a blog that’s not sales-centric but is informative for your readers. You can tell them about industry trends, offer DIY solutions to common problems, address news items, or trending events like the Oscars, Super Bowl, or a hot TV or movie release. Be sure your blog reflects your brand values, add a few external links of interest to each post, and enable social sharing of your articles. You should publish at least weekly (daily is better) and share across your social media channels.
As you evolve your site design, be sure to keep in mind that your pages must load rapidly, and your content is well-written and error-free. If you have ads on your site, make sure they’re not overwhelming and don’t clog your loading time. Be sure to evaluate your site’s performance across all platforms and types of devices to assure that your adaptive design is flawless. Also regularly use a broken link checker to make sure that all your internal and external links are valid – nothing is more of a downer than dead links that frustrate your site visitors.
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