The rapidly evolving rate of technology means that the web landscape is constantly fluid. Some advances have a bigger impact than others. Here are the the trends that we anticipate will most affect website design in 2018:
1) The end of separate mobile websites
The shift to a mobile-first landscape has been a long time coming. A decade ago, inconsistencies between browsers were a minefield for web developers, causing countless design and coding headaches. When mobile phones evolved into smartphones and began coming equipped with browsers, that fragmentation only spread further. At the time, the architecture wasn’t there to code a site that was functional both on a smartphone and a desktop computer, so it was necessary to create separate mobile-only versions of websites. This came with its own plethora of issues, from traffic fragmentation to the added costs of separate mobile design and development. Now (thankfully) that’s a thing of the past – or at least, it should be. Responsive design is easier than ever to code for if you plan for it from the start, which leaves no reason to bother with a separate mobile site. More importantly, Google is officially moving to a mobile-first search index in 2018. This means that when deciding how to rank a website, Google will primarily look at the content that’s displayed to mobile users. This makes responsive design not just recommended, but necessary.
2) Persistent “sticky” footers
You may have noticed something following you when you visit certain websites recently. Key call-to-action elements, such as one-click contact options, chat service boxes, or even special offers are finding their way into many website designs as persistent elements in the footer; scroll up or down, they are still there at the bottom. This can be handy from a user perspective because it keeps the most important information always accessible. It is however important to be selective when choosing which items to stick to a user’s screen. The idea is to remain unobtrusive, but accessible. When done right, it’s good UX that helps everyone win.
3) Instant answers and easy information
Throw a stone on the internet these days, and Google’s likely to tell you the velocity before you’ve even thought to ask. Life is busy and attention spans are short; lose your visitor’s attention and you’ve lost a potential sale. That makes it essential to deliver the information that your audience is seeking before your competitors do. You’ve likely seen this in a number of ways already; the instant chat boxes with live operators that follow you around a website (see above), asking if they can help, or Google’s ability to guess what you’re typing and offer a summary from the best suited listings. From a content perspective, it means delivering the information your audience is seeking naturally and effectively, in the body of your website copy, rather than hiding it away on an FAQ page at the end of your nav.
4) Voice search optimization
What once seemed like a novelty has now become ubiquitous, and now every major mobile OS has its own voice activated assistant: Siri, Alexa, Cortana and the unnamed Google Assistant. Why type it if you can just talk to your phone? It makes navigating while you drive both safer and easier, and also just adds another ease-of-use layer. These days, convenience is as much of a currency as information, and that means we’ll only see voice search continue to be optimized and used more widely. It’s also poised to have a major impact on search engines. Because you typically don’t talk how you type when you search, voice search emphasizes more “humanized” queries, which inevitably will have a profound effect on how we frame our SEO.
5) Color is kosher again
For the past few years, subtle color themes and muted palettes have dominated website designs, but that’s about to change. Making a website “pop” is once again an emphasis for designers, and there are a lot of creative ways to do that. Expect to see a lot of bright colors, as well as bold, vibrant designs. Goodbye, #999999 Shades of Grey – you won’t be missed.
6) 2018: The year the stock photo died
Okay, so maybe that’s an overstatement – people have been calling for the death of stock images for years, and in actuality good stock images can be an integral part of modern design. But let 2018 be the end of obviously staged “lifestyle” photos, featuring happy people completing a task in an oversaturated environment. While it might be tempting to punctuate your every social post with one of those smiling stock photos you still have on file, unoriginal images can end up hurting your content more than they help. Studies have shown that people don’t engage with fake photos. Moreover, you want to keep your business from looking derivative. And with stock photos, derivative is the name of the game. Authentic photography gives you the opportunity to tell your own story about who your business is. Plan and stage a photoshoot that will give you solid storytelling photos, which you can then augment with carefully curated additional stock photos. Remember to check with your web and marketing team before conducting the shoot, to see if they have any special requests for the images. Horizontal images often work better for web layouts, and your web designer will likely have a wish list of the type of images that will be best suited for your digital space.
Ready to ring the in the new year with a fresh design and forward thinking trends? Give us a call – we’d love to give your presence on the web the polished, professional look it deserves.