We’re just beyond the first quarter of 2015, and already we have seen quite a few new trends in the web design world. From the most prominent one – responsive web design – to hidden menus, new breakthroughs and technology mean the design world is constantly changing. As designers experiment with coding and come up with new ways of engaging visitors, the landscape of design morphs. Although the important details remain the same, being usability, crispness and easy-to-understand content, the way this information is displayed varies.
Responsive Web Design: How Mobile is Your Website?
One of the hottest topics in the web design industry is responsive web design. As Google is implementing its new algorithms later this month, everyone is in a mad dash to ensure that their website is mobile friendly. The term mobile friendly is often misconstrued, as many believe that “mobile friendly” means that their site is viewable on a mobile device; unfortunately this isn’t the case.
To truly be mobile friendly, a website must adjust itself to the size of the screen it’s being used on. From a small iPhone screen to a regular desktop, the website must have easy to navigate menu options, and have all the pertinent content available—no scrolling to the left or right allowed. This may not seem like a big deal, but once Google begins its new algorithms, sites that are not mobile friendly will no longer have the same rankings they enjoyed beforehand, for searches made on a mobile device.
The “Where’s Waldo” of Hidden Menus
You’ve seen it before – websites that almost make it difficult to find their menu. Rather than having home, about us, services, etc. across the top or side of the site, they have four or five vertical lines that bring up the menu items when you click or hover over it. Also popular is a bunch of small pictures within squares, that show the menu options when the cursor is over them. Some websites have no menus at all, with all of their content in one page – as seen below in parallax scrolling.
This type of technique makes for a very clean and professional-looking website, but can be frustrating for those visitors who don’t know what they are looking at. Unless you’ve seen these before, you will more than likely just hover over everything to find the menu. One of the smartest ways of using this type of design is to give the user a helping hand – actually having “Menu!” with an arrow pointing toward the relevant spot, which goes away after being clicked on.
Scroll, Scroll, Scroll your Page …
Parallax scrolling and longer pages are becoming the “newest thing,” and honestly, it’s not surprising. New coding abilities have allowed designers to institute parallax scrolling – essentially, the background of the page scrolls by slower than the content – making for an extremely cool-looking and very professional website. This type of scrolling almost gives the site a 3-D look, and is easy to navigate and read the content as well.
Longer pages have become more popular as well. At one point in time content was only to be “above the fold” (a newspaper term) – where the most important information was not only on the first page of the site, but whatever shows above the bottom of the screen. The increase of the amount of people using their smart phones and tablets have given rise to this trend, as it is extremely easy to scroll down in a website, when all you have to do is flick your finger down. As well, there are so many different ways to view websites, it’s hard to discern exactly where “above the fold” is.
Once Upon a Time …
Using storytelling for the comprehensive part of web design, encompassing not only the design itself, but the content and how it’s displayed, has taken the world by storm. Web design is no longer dedicated to being professional and sophisticated, and “dry” business-like sites have gone by the wayside. Instead, you will see an entire aspect of “fun” in every site – from cartoons, to bright flashy colors and innovative ways to display your content, websites are enjoyable again.
It’s something we’ve seen from the beginning with social media – the more engaging the content, the better response you will get. By making designs fun to use, while still looking professional and having important information, you will capture your audience’s attention. Some ways of making your website more “fun” is to have movement within the text/logos itself – like a title that’s shaped like a wooden sign, and swings when it’s clicked on.
The art of website design will always be fluid; trends come and go, just like bell bottoms and poodle skirts. The most important “trend” in web site design is to have a website that is easy to navigate, has good quality content and is easy to use.