Contemporary web trends to ask your design agency about
Written by Jeremy Hickman
Sep 8 2014
Does Your Site Look Dated or Need A Redesign? Ask Your Web Designer To Find Out
As a designer, I’m always keen to seek out new trends and to evolve my designs to keep things fresh.
In the digital world where trends change fast, without the occasional re-design, sites can quickly appear dated. For example; look at the original Space Jam site unchanged since 1996. Would you still want your site to look like that? Design has come a long way!
Below are a few current and emerging techniques*, which you may want to ask your agency about to keep your site at the forefront of modern design.
*Current at time of publication
The introduction of Apple’s iOS 7 last year kick-started a mass-ditching of gradients and shadows. Visible in Windows 8’s uber-cool flat look, this is a trend likely to grow in popularity into 2015; shown through OSX Yosemite’s new flat design out this Autumn, and the recent Windows 8 ‘Metro’ interface.
If you want to reflect this style on your site, keep in mind that any form of Skeuomorphism - fake wood, leather, shelves & desks, and wire ring-binder effects are out! Simplicity is key.
Large ‘Hero’ Areas
Replacing sliders as the most stylish way to get messages across are large ‘hero’ areas. A hero area is the introduction area of a site, usually on the homepage, and is comprised of a very large image with a small amount of text over it.
We’ve seen a number of variations on a theme, with perhaps a hand-drawn image, or a blurred photo, sometimes even a video on loop as the background for the hero area, with large stylish typography.
Keep an eye out for ever more creative and stylish hero areas.
Video Replacing Text
As audiences grow ever-lazier, we’re seeing an increasing trend in using video to get your message across. Why read when you can just watch? This technique fits really well when combined with a hero area.
As it’s now much easier to make a high quality professional video and services such as YouTube help you track the number of views, this technique is rapidly increasing in popularity with effectiveness very easy to monitor.
Long Scrolling Sites
This trend has been around for a while now, but is evolving to use more organised content and navigation to more easily find what you’re looking for.
We’re seeing increasing use of techniques such as whitespace, and integration of responsive techniques to freshen up this design style. The trick here is to make the content interesting with something new appearing regularly to encourage continuous engagement - users must not be aware of how far they’re scrolling.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a technique enabling a website to automatically adapt to fit the width of the screen of the device it’s being viewed upon. This makes the site more appropriate for the display size. Responsive design is crucial if you want your site to look good on everything from very small screens like mobile phones, through to tablets, laptops and desktops, even to very large screen devices.
It’s true that the technique is hardly new, but responsive web design continues to gain popularity and is now getting the real attention it deserves. Some sites show that almost half of their visits come from mobile devices alone, yet you’d be surprised at how many sites still aren’t optimised for that, and don’t adopt RWD. This leaves users on smaller displays having to pinch, zoom, and scroll in order to read your content - not ideal.
Simple Colour Schemes
A major trend for 2014 has been much simpler colour schemes. Some of the nicest sites at the moment limit their palette to one or two colours only (remember black or white are never included when we talk about colours in design).
Some sites are taking things even further with a monochrome look, particularly ecommerce sites as this allows the colours of product imagery to be shown to best effect. Adding a simple highlight colour for call-to-action buttons can add real drama, especially if these are in bright colours like red, against a monochrome background.
Don’t forget that techniques like parallax (where the background and foreground scroll at slightly different speeds to create an impression of perspective) can add a really cool touch to your site. Also scrolling linked with some nifty jquery animation - so that effects unfold as you scroll down the page - can give some real visual interest as users move through your site, and hold their attention.
If you’re thinking about updating the look of your site, we can make sure you take advantage of the latest techniques to really grab the attention of your audience.
Equally, if you’ve seen some other trends that haven’t been highlighted here, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.