What Your Website Will Need More of This Year
Every year, the Internet shifts and changes as new technologies emerge. What worked for your website two years ago may not be as successful for user experience today. Staying on top of trends is one way of figuring out what changes your website needs, but there are many other factors involved in grabbing the user and keeping them engaged throughout their visit to your site.
Brands scoring higher for design also saw higher growth in revenue and had 20.6 percent higher returns to their shareholders than companies with lower design scores. More importantly, though, a well-designed site improves user experience and keeps customers coming back for more. It’s no wonder sites with good design bring in more conversions.
How can you mesh new technology and design trends with your website for stellar online results? Here are six areas for improvement this year that will show your site visitors you understand their needs and will set your site above the competition.
1. Lose the Content Sliders
You’ve probably noticed the trend of content sliders on every other site you visit. Unfortunately, users hate them and have for many years. Several studies show most users ignore them completely — only 1 percent click on a carousel slide.
While it is crucial to place vital content in the top fold of your page, where users see it the minute they land on your site, consider better ways of using this space than carousels and sliders. Hero images are another solution for the top fold of your page, as are static images.
2. Expand Mobile First
In 2018, mobile reached 52.2 percent of all global Internet surfing. As more people get smartphones and on better data plans, expect to see mobile browsing increase even more. Faster and more reliable connection speeds are on the radar, with shifts toward the Internet of Things and 5G speeds. A page designed for mobile is optimized and loads at lightning speed.
Even if your website is mobile-responsive, that may not be enough for users as the push toward more mobile access increases. A mobile-first approach prioritizes the needs of mobile users above PC-based users. Another option is creating a separate mobile site, but many designers have shifted away from that as mobile responsiveness became more commonplace.
3. Add More Video Content
In an annual survey of more than 600 people, researchers found 81 percent of businesses used video as a marketing tool in 2018 and 87 percent in 2019. Video content engages site visitors, and they remember images better than many other forms of content. Marketers see results from video marketing, so they increase their budget for videos each year.
Creating a video doesn’t have to cost a fortune, either. Creative ways of covering the costs of video production include nonprofit grants, corporate sponsorships for associations and individuals and government grants. Set aside some of your marketing budget for video production, then place your video in multiple places for maximum exposure, such as your website, YouTube and Facebook.
4. Keep Things Simple
Big hero images create a beautiful page, but if you don’t optimize their size, your site may load slowly. Slow page load speeds aggravate site visitors and impact your ranking in Google’s algorithm. There are many reasons to speed up how fast your page loads, but even if that isn’t your sole focus, a simpler design makes it easier to draw attention to the elements on the page that you want to attract users’ gaze.
One design trend that returns year after year is the use of additional white space. Placing plenty of negative space around key elements points users to the features of your landing page you want them to notice first. Simplicity means less clutter, more white space and a more zeroed-in focus on essential elements.
5. Integrate AR
Augmented reality (AR) is on the rise. Technology experts predict the AR market will reach $100 billion by 2020. You’ve likely already experienced it through apps that do things like showing you what a piece of furniture looks like in a room of your home. Integrating AR into your web designs is a little easier said than done, but remember, it will become more commonplace in the future as more cell phones offer the capability and more people invest in AR glasses or screens.
Designers also will use AR in their design work. Instead of designing on a flat screen, they’ll move around a space and complete three-dimensional designs. Interior designers use an AR headset to step into the area for a new store and figure out the best layout design. As the future unfolds, designers will figure out additional ways of using AR in their work.
6. Adapt for Thumb Navigation
Recent studies looked at the way mobile users hold their phones while browsing online and discovered using the thumb for navigation is instinctive. Because of the new tactile nature of the Internet via mobile devices, expect thumb navigation to become a thing in 2019 and beyond. For example, move your hamburger menu from the top to the lower right or left corner of the page, making it easy for users to tap the menu with a thumb.
Some designers are even forgoing menu navigation altogether and moving to a homepage with a search function and nothing else. The theory is that this stripped-down design saves space for mobile users. The controversial hamburger menu disappears, and all that remains is the bare bones of navigation.
Follow the Trends
Every year, there are notable trends and things that fall out of favor. At the heart of design, though, is how the website functions for users. Think about changes in technology and how they might adapt in a real-world scenario. How do people use their mobile phones, and why is one type of design preferable to another? Do some testing and figure out how to best meet the needs of your target audience. If you always focus on the usability of design and your target audience, you can’t go wrong.
Lexie Lu is a web developer and UX strategist. Her work is on Creative Bloq, Marketo, Website Magazine and Marketme. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.