website design trends 2015

five things to look out for in web design

We’re well into the New Year now which means, like many companies you’re probably assessing your business strategies for 2015, including your digital marketing plan for the year.

It’s fair to say that most businesses are more than aware of the importance of a good website. Very often, it’s the first impression that potential customers will get of your business, so you want to make it count.

If you haven’t already thought about your digital marketing plan, or even put one in place, do you know what you should be focussing on in 2015? There are a number of ways that you can encourage your customers to stay on your website and they all stem from good design principles.

Not getting the design of your website right can be a costly mistake. It’s essential that you know what your customers want and reflect that in the look, feel and content of your site. To ensure that you won’t be left behind by your competitors, we’ve put together a list of what we see as being the most important trends in website design for 2015.

 

web-banner

Keep scrollin’, scrollin’, scrollin’

The term ‘above the fold’ is becoming less and less relevant in website design. Simple navigation and a seamless user experience are not only vital, but expected by every visitor to a site.

With the use of touch screen technology and mobile devices on the rise, many visitors to your site will automatically want to scroll through its content to find information rather than take the time to discover which areas are clickable.

Scrolling parallax sites have been around for a while and are becoming a lot more widespread. They’re easier and more intuitive to use, reduce load time and allow for more dynamic interaction. A few sites are taking the more extreme route of infinite scrolling, following the lead of social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. As you can imagine it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Here’s a great selection of creative scrolling sites that you can check out.

While an infinite scroll is an extreme example, this trend sits well with the idea of creating a narrative on your website. A scrolling site is the epitome of content that has a beginning, middle and end. Perfectly demonstrated in the New York Times’ Pulitzer-winning article ‘Snowfall’, which used parallax scrolling and video to tell the story of an avalanche at Tunnel Creek.

 

Snowfall

(Image courtesy of New York Times)

Hero worship

Large Images or ‘hero areas’ are replacing sliders and carousels. The top of a page, especially the home page of your website, should grab a visitor’s attention, prompting them to scroll down to the action that you want them to take.

The use of large images in a ‘hero’ layout can not only be seen to improve conversion rates but also adapt easily in a responsive design and are a lot more mobile friendly. The likes of Spotify and Twitter use them and you can find even more examples here.

If you decide to have professional photography taken it’s also a great opportunity to convey the personality of your business through the site.

 

Spotify

(Image courtesy of Spotify)

Just my type

With responsive website design an important priority, sites need to be easily viewed on multiple devices at different sizes and remain legible.

One solution is using typography that adapts responsively. Like the hero image, it gives a page one focal point, with the added bonus of conveying a message through the content.

 

Anja Rubik

(Image courtesy of Anja Rubik, Mohito)

Slide away

While responsive design was in its infancy, emphasis would be placed on making the desktop version look great, while how it looked on other devices was given second billing. Now that it’s as important to give visitors’ a great experience on their tablet or mobile as it is on a desktop or laptop, elements that were once only implemented for responsive are beginning to be used site-wide.

One of these is a hidden, slide-out or fly-out menu. Born of necessity, because a traditional navigation bar at the top of the page won’t scale well on a narrow mobile or tablet screen, this design style is also beginning to crop up on more and more sites. Its major benefit is the fact that it’s instantly responsive, but it also means that clickable buttons don’t encroach on hero images, keeping the page clean and uncluttered.

You’re probably not aware but there’s something of a debate going on as to whether they should be represented by the word ‘menu’ or what’s referred to as a ‘hamburger icon’. We don’t really have an opinion either way; menu or hamburger, the most important thing is to ensure that your site gives visitors the best user experience.

 

Yoobic

(Image courtesy of Yoobic)

Fast and furious

Having a beautiful looking site is all well and good but it’s all a bit pointless if your visitors can’t view anything on it. Research by Google found that people will visit a website less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds!

As well as considering the look and content of a website, businesses also need to take into consideration the ‘weight’ of a site; i.e. the amount and size of the files within it and the implications that adding certain features will have on the load speed. The more technicalities that go into building a site, the slower it’s probably going to be so keep that in mind at the design stage and you’ll have an effective, customer magnet of a site.

While visual trends will come and go, the most important aspect of any website design will always be keeping your customers’ needs in mind and reflecting them in the content and imagery of your site. Combined with easy navigation and a straightforward user experience, 2015 should be the year that your website becomes a major part of your marketing strategy.

Written by Claire Fisher, SEO Account Executive.

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