5 Web Design Trends of 2014

1. “Little & Often” Web Design Approach
As mentioned in Sam’s “2014 Digital Trends” article, we predict that “web design as a process will become more evolutionary in 2014 as brands appreciate that a website overhaul and redesign once every 3-5 years no longer enables them to keep up with trends in technology and functionality. A greater understanding of this will lead to a ‘little and often’ approach, with constant updates to online presences to keep at the forefront of the digital industry and to coincide with user expectations.”
This means that in order to keep up with their competitors, businesses are going to need to consider their website’s “look and feel” and content on a monthly or quarterly basis – this doesn’t necessarily mean drastic changes to navigation systems or complete content overhauls, it means keeping up with changes, both in your business and in user behaviour (mobile usage etc)
Ultimately the chance of your business looking out-of-date is increasing as other businesses update their websites more often. The heat is on!
2. Flat Design
Shadows and gradients are out, and flat, clean lines are in! This is as much to do with a simple change in fashion, (lead by some big brands) as well as big moves to a simpler and more usable web.
So what is “flat” design. Basically it is the difference between iOS6 and iOS7 (Apple’s operating system on iPhones/iPads)  You will notice almost all shadows and “false depth” have been removed (e.g. icons no longer look like they hover above the background with a shadow)  The result is a more “flat” experience and here at Clicky Media we are big fans.
The world of web design is following this trend with big brands like Google removing shadows from nearly all of their logos and GUI elements. It is a subtle change and something you may not feel your business needs to be a part of, but the big brands are setting the tone for a modern looking website and if your business wants to look current, we may need to all follow like sheep (for now at least!)
3. Super-thin Typography
New displays with incredible pixel density (Apple’s retina displays and the new 4K displays) mean that super-fine font weights can be used on the web without distortion.
The changes in technology now mean a “print quality” clarity can be achieved. The only problem is web designers need to use a work-around for older displays (still the majority… sigh..) as these fonts can look ugly on standard resolution displays.
4. Big Homepage Heroes
The front door to your website has often been a cluttered place with 10-20 different features all fighting for attention. Thankfully the world of web design is realising that offering too many choices is not necessarily the secret to success.
The thing for businesses to realise is that there are hundreds of doors into your website (Google indexes every page, not just your homepage) and as such the home page needn’t bombard the user with choices. It does however need to tell your “front door users” the most important thing you want them to know at that precise moment in time (See how the little and often approach applies here!). For some websites, the home page may show off the latest product with a click-through to find out more. It may then (after a few seconds) slide away and tell the user the second most important thing and then the third etc. (known as a slider).
The big change in trend is that this slider may dominate the entire first view of your website. Using media queries web designers can alter this hero area to fit the full screen size of your device – creating an immersive experience.
Other “sub-content” often exists below this initial view, for those looking for it, but the idea is you dominate the user experience with your most important message. The hard bit is deciding what the most important thing is, but remember to keep it changing in-line with your business.
5. Responsiveness as standard
2013 was undoubtably the year of the mobile/tablet and early figures show that mobile users were not just browsers, they were buyers.
Responsive web design is the concept of building a site to alter itself using media queries to fit the screen size of the user, thus maintaining a consistent user experience, regardless of the device they use to view your website. It’s a big challenge for designers and developers, but a responsive website undoubtably performs better and is well worth the headache.
2014 will see responsive web design become a standard requirement, rather than a feature. Unfortunately most websites are yet to make this change (more often than not it means a complete rebuild) and have a lot of work to do.
Here at Clicky Media we must have built 20+ completely responsive websites and the data we have recorded from subsequent marketing campaigns has been excellent – essentially mobile/tablet users begin to convert at similar rates to desktop users.

Written by Oli Yeates


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