Mobile First, Responsive Design
Responsive design is nothing new, but it is no longer an option, it’s a requirement. These days, we live in a mobile world. So much so that mobile has outperformed desktop for internet use. In October 2016 statistics from StatCounter show that 51.3% of all website visits globally now come from mobile devices. If you are finding the majority of your users are on mobile devices its time to consider taking a mobile first approach to your website.
Designing for mobile screens come with more limitations due to the size of space available. The benefit of this is that the content must be stripped back to only what is absolutely necessary. This forces brands to focus on their core content and what message they want to convey.
Google Algorithm Updates
Google rolled out a new algorithm last year that favours mobile optimised websites in mobile search rankings. This made it essential for all businesses to get on board or be left behind. The need is made even more acute by what is on the horizon.
2017 will represent another step forward in responsive design with web pages being tailored to suit the user. An example of this would be website variations based on the user’s age. Font sizes, spacing and even navigation menus could adapt for older users making it easier to use. Just as online advertising is tailored to the user’s interests and search history, this will be the beginning of adaptive websites based on meta data and browsing history. Expect to see more developments in this direction.
At Atelier we have seen mobile audiences growing for a number of our clients. It has become their main method of browsing. Where we once designed sites to work predominantly for desktop users, the switch to mobile is flipping this around. We now design for mobile first and desktop second to ensure the largest audience segment have the best experience.
Remember that the key point is to focus on the user first.
How much do you know about your audience? Is your website optimised with the user in mind?
Contact Atelier today to find out more about your audience
Personalisation is everywhere and on the rise. Big names like Amazon, Facebook and Spotify have been using it to good effect for some time now. This has set the benchmark.
Personalisation can display different content depending on who is looking at it. Enabling brands to provide relevant and useful content that builds trust. For example different content can be shown to a first time visitor over a lead or a customer. This allows you to present the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
Dynamic content that changes to suit the user will provide a more relevant customer journey. People are drowning in information, options and choices. Personalisation reduces the amount of information, leading them through your funnel with tailored calls to action, designed specifically for the user, improving conversions. Create a more personal experience results in higher conversion rates, better engagement and greater retention rates.
Content Focused Layout
Users aren’t visiting your site because it looks nice or it has nice features, they are looking for information and consuming your content. Content can often be an afterthought but should be the first thing you consider in any web project, the site should be built and designed around the content.
In recent years, more and more extra features have been added to websites, such as; sidebars, sidebar ads, banner ads, headers, comments, reviews, social media buttons, signup boxes, popups, not to mention the all important call to action. All of these elements have made webpages more crowded, drawing user’s attention away from the content.
In 2017 expect to see a move back to basics, reducing distractions and giving content pride of place. This direction should allow users to efficiently focus on the message. Intuitively consuming content without slowing down the reading of the page. Content is the heart of a website and the purpose of the design is to present that content as clearly and easily as possible for the user. We should see more websites letting the content, of all descriptions, take centre stage.
Typography is an essential part of every design. Designers know how important typography is and how it is pivotal to the success of a project. It helps convey the message you want to deliver, with the power to enrich a story, portray emotion, show personality and establish tone. Not only can it draw the user’s attention, when done well, it is able to keep the user’s attention. With advancements in screen resolutions making easier reading, expect to see the boundaries of typography pushed further still.
Typography trends emerge every year. This year we expect to see the continuing trend of bold geometric typography. We will see more over-sized and even full screen typography. It will not necessarily be the weight of the font that will be bold, but more about the screen space given. Large typography can break up grids effectively, which is especially useful for long scrolling pages. Having your message clear and concise is the perfect antidote to our busy, information saturated lives – giving brands the opportunity to cut through the noise and connect with users.
Vibrant Colours, Shadows and Gradients
Over the last few years designers have been leaning towards minimalist web design. Web pages have been designed to be clean, with lots of white space, along with slight, thin fonts. Recently there has been a rise in rich, vibrant colours. 2017 will be the year that we see this continue to grow as brands move away from “safe” design and experiment more with bright, bold hues and captivating colour gradients.
Although this approach is nothing new, it has been encouraged by recent advancements in screen technology, providing designers with more colours than ever before to play with. Designers are adapting the use of gradients to achieve further impact by incorporating angular shapes as the colours morph.
Shadows are also being increasingly used, with designers searching for more creative ways to implement them. Expect to see small monochrome shadows move aside for large coloured ones, further enhancing the shadowed element and the visual impact of the overall design.
Vibrant colours are already being used by brands more than before with Instagram’s rebranded logo and icons as a prime example.
Last year we saw a rise of micro-interactions and animations being used on web pages. Designers have embraced the use of micro-interactions and it has become an integral part of user interface and user experience planning for many reasons.
Micro-interactions make the UI more appealing and helps users communicate with the UI. They enrich UX by guiding users, showing them what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. They can provide a distraction while a page is loading, navigation cues, feedback, or the result of an action. Examples of micro-interactions include adjusting a setting, turning on or off a feature, completing a task and hover animations to highlight a link.
As hardware develops and improves it has become easier for designers to incorporate micro-interactions as a fundamental concept of web design. These components are regarded as part of the norm now rather than the added extras they used to be. Expect to see interactions refined even further into smaller bits with greater interactions. These small subtle changes in style can provide a big impact in the overall user experience, especially for mobile and small screens.
Every click, tap, touch and pinch will be seen as an opportunity for more interactive animations. But don’t go overboard as attention grabbing can quickly turn to annoyance if overused. Especially if clunky animation slows down page load speeds.
End of Stock Imagery
With the popularity of WordPress themes, coupled with the rise of UX and UI as being recognised as important aspects of design, many websites now have similarities in the way they look, feel and operate. Combine this with the fact that great stock image resources like Unsplash are now well known, brands have got to move away from stock imagery to stand out in the increasingly crowded marketplace.
Users can spot stock imagery from a mile off. The business men shaking hands, the man brandishing a clipboard, the cheesy poses, the painted on smiles. Stock imagery has become cringey or dull and users are bored of it.
Photography will remain an important element of web design but brands that want to grab the attention of users have begun to create their own original and unique images. Producing their own bespoke imagery enhances their storytelling capability and helps brands emphasise their message.
Although it will probably be quite some time until they disappear completely, in 2017 we will see brands stepping away from unimaginative stock imagery, striving to create not only bespoke images but custom iconography, illustrations and animated visuals.
UX has become a key focus for web design, with most of the above points referring to improving the user experience. As technologies advance with AI creeping into our everyday lives, and AR and VR knocking on the door, there will be changes in UX as behaviours change. Nevertheless, the user needs to remain the focal point.
So how do you ensure that the user is at the forefront of the mind of designers?
UX design needs to be based around data. Good UX design requires that designers have the ability to extract, examine and employ data to guide their design. Without incorporating insights from the data, design has an element of guesswork that needn’t be there. To ensure the end product has the best possible user experience it should be based on a solid understanding of the behavioural data.
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