Everyone that is adding or changing a website wonders what the trends are at that moment and what they will be going forward. The key to some trends come from people looking at websites that already exist and provide new functionality and some sort of flair. It could be as simple as color changes, navigation changes and content.
When you are contemplating your layout, consider that the current trend is more casual than in year’s past. People want content that is concise and in laymen’s terms. No fancy terminology that doesn’t resonate with someone who isn’t in familiar with that field or business. There are still some industries that will use the formal verbiage due to their function. For instance, a law office, finance and doctor’s offices will be using the more formal terminology when others will opt for the casual language.
The days of having menu bars only at the top and simpler layouts have now gone to the cleaner look and more white space. You want to encourage your visitors to scan the entire site. If they get to the home page and it’s not engaging, they could leave without going any further. You want to match the tone and mood of your competitors, friendly, belonging and a feeling of being connected. These are ideas that help me think ahead when looking for trends.
- Look at the popular websites visited often. These are the websites that have been integrated into our culture (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn). Keep an eye on their ever-changing look to gauge what people are familiar with.
- Keep an eye on television commercials, magazine art to watch the use of color and font interplay.
- Trends are more than just looks. I try to find the feeling invoked by the advertisement, images, words. This is the true path of the trend. Bold. Whimsical. These are just two words that describe some of the current trending that I see.
- Look for things that could be considered disruptive. Not everything translates into good web design. Know the difference between eye-catching and a nuisance.
- Distinguish between the long-term trends versus the current fad.
To maintain the casual stance for your website here are a few tips:
- Use concise, grammatically correct conversational terminology
- Use real life verbiage
- Avoid using industry jargon
- Provide information that isn’t stating the obvious
To make sure that your website doesn’t become obsolete:
- Use mouse-over tool tips for context controls. Provide that extra help when needed.
- Show interactivity on your screen. This can be as simple as images coming into focus when you hover over them. Encourage your visitors to explore!
- Don’t be clunky with your functionality. Design your web pages with your visitors in mind, keeping the process as easy as possible for them – not the developer!
- Include the human element in your images. Your visitors can spot a stock image a mile away. Provide that personal touch by using real photos versus stock images.
- Remember the saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. The author of your content should be writing as a representative of the group, and should not be the entire group throwing in their two cents. Your message will be more concise and cohesive with one or just a few authors.
- Always add quick links to your social media elements
- In the About Us section, try to make it personal by using real photos and bios.
With a few of these tips, your website will remain engaging, interactive and easy to understand. And isn’t that the whole point? Getting your visitors to engage with your website and your business.