website Design Trends

In this 2-part blog series, our in-house web expert James takes a look at what has changed in web design and development, where we are now and what the future holds.

First up is a run-down of the latest design innovations as well as tips for making sure your website delivers maximum impact and engagement.

Is your website out of date?

The last decade has been an exciting period in the advancement of web technology and website design. We’ve seen mobile and responsive web design have a huge impact, and the introduction of new browsers, devices, software and design trends have all influenced the way we interact with websites.

Long gone are the days when Internet Explorer was the most popular browser – often the only option until the introduction of Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari in the mid-2000s. Now, there are a variety of choices, all of which require consideration when developing a website.

Perhaps the greatest change is the growth of the mobile web. Before mobile, desktop computers were the primary way to browse the web, with a limited amount of screen sizes to consider when creating a website. Mobile devices have rapidly become the most popular way to search the web, bringing about big changes in web design techniques. Between 2009 to 2018 the percentage of global web pages served to mobile phones climbed from 0.7% to 52.2%, and is forecast to move above 60% by 2020.

This rapid advancement in web technology means the demand for design innovation has never been greater. Animation is now used in more subtle ways, with CSS animations and web technologies such as JavaScript or PHP used to provide interactivity and create better user experiences. Flash used to be popular for adding interactivity, but it was soon realised that this was not the best solution due to poor accessibility and difficulties with search engine optimisation, amongst other issues. In fact, most devices no longer support Flash.

Many web experts will advise you to update your website every two to three years as a minimum. However, you may need to rebuild or update your site more frequently. How regularly you update your website depends on how well your site is performing across a variety of metrics. If your website is not converting results, it's time to make a change. Get in touch to talk about how we can help optimise your website.

What’s hot right now?

Bright and vibrant colours

For some time, soft tones and monotones have taken over web design. However, it seems like this trend is fading. Now, users want more high contrast and vibrant colours. Fluorescent colours, bright neons, metallics and angular shapes have become popular once again. Variants of pink, blue, yellow, and green can help spark emotion and stand out. More than ever, brands are using these bold bright colours to better represent their company image.

White Space

Web design continues moving towards “less is more”. We are seeing more websites with simplified layouts and larger amounts of white space. White space (also known to as negative space) is simply the empty space on a page. It provides breathing space around elements and gives a more specific focus on key content.

Using white space to separate the different sections on your pages helps improve readability and makes it easier for users to digest important information or graphics.

White space can be used to break up each section of a site allowing for users to easily navigate one section at a time. Active icons or animations can then be used to direct users through the page.

nike website
Example 'White Space' - nike.com

Bold typefaces

Extra-loud, dramatic, big and bold fonts will continue to grow in popularity with designers looking to leave an impression. These typographic headers are often used as the main design element and are an obvious choice if you want your message to stand out.

Traditionally designers have used serifs for print and sans serifs for screen. Sans, with its clean readability, is still the preferred choice for longer drafts of website copy, but more brands are now turning towards bold serifs in other aspects of their designs such as headers and call to actions. Serifs were originally designed to be decorative, making them perfect for emphasis. And even though serifs are often associated with the past, they have lots of character and work well when placed into a modern website design.

spotify website
Example 'Bold Typeface' - spotify.com

Video content

The demand for video content is growing rapidly. They can be used to explain a process and your services, advertise a product, or simply add a visual to your website. Video not only diversifies the page but adds value to an audience who don’t have time to scroll through a lot of text.

Google has moved towards mixed search page results, featuring video content above standard web pages. Websites will now prioritise video production in order to make them easily searchable and offer content in a more efficient, shareable way.

Motion UI

Web users are becoming more inclined to interactive graphics on web pages. There is a demand for speed and instant interaction and a call for more captivating graphics on web pages. Static images and flash-based graphics are diminishing the user experience of many websites, while motion UI is much more user-friendly.

beats by dre website
Example ‘Motion UI’ – beatsbydre.com

The return of Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs have made a comeback. Today’s user requires instant gratification when it comes to finding the information they’re looking for, which means we only have a small window to capture their attention and provide them with what they’re looking for. This is where animated GIFs really shine. GIFs can convey complex ideas in a short period of time whilst being engaging and entertaining. They work on most browsers and mobile devices, making them accessible to everyone.

Speed and performance

More important now than it was a few years ago, the speed of your website is not only a key ranking factor, but imperative to actually having your content read at all. Google reported that over 50% of users will leave a website after three seconds, which is a warning to anyone looking to increase website traffic. Businesses and developers are beginning to prioritise site speed using clean, minimal code and optimised imagery to reduce loading wherever possible.

Should I refresh my website?

Your website is hugely important to your brand, and as your brand and marketing strategy evolves, your website should as well.

Your website and your brand identity should work seamlessly alongside one another. A lack of cohesion can damage not only your brand but also your customer’s trust.

Specific design trends like bright colours or integrated video might be totally wrong for your audience. Or they could be the ideal way to connect with your customers and attract new ones. There are millions of websites online and the only way to truly stand out is to create a website that is modern, unique and offers something different.

Making the decision to refresh your website based on latest trends should always be determined by whether that trend makes sense for your brand or business.

If you would like to talk to us about your website, then please feel free to get in touch.

Read on for the second part of James’ blog series – The Future of Website Development.