Thoughts on Web Design from an Inbound Marketer
Working in digital marketing, I spend about 98% of my day online. Most of the time I'm managing social interactions, furthering my own education, and writing content. But sometimes, I like to stop and smell the online flowers. Despite having little background in web design, these experiences have led me to pick up on a few things that do and don't work on websites.
Now, let me be honest. When I say I don't have much web design experience, I mean I just became familiar with Joomla a few months ago. When my peer Luke sent me an article the other day about how sliders are bad, I thought "Who doesn't like mini cheeseburgers?"
Nonetheless, I think I possess a unique view on design due to my own novice understanding coupled with the fact that I spend all day in the company of masterful Joomla developers and designers. As such, my thoughts on web design have grown to exist somewhere between the world of a technical back end professional, and a blissfully unaware user who happens to work in marketing.
Today, I'd like to share a few of those thoughts on current and upcoming trends in web design.
If you agree, I'd love to hear why. If you don't, go read someone else's article. Just kidding! As I continue down this path of expanding my Joomla knowledge, I'd be thrilled to discuss these concepts with you.
The trends below have been selected based on research, conversation, and my own experiences online:
Simplified Web Design
It's all the rage right now, and probably isn't going anywhere.
Why? Maybe because we're inundated with information on a daily basis, and need to have our hands held in order to understand where we should pay attention. Maybe because we're used to a tidal wave of advertising coming our way and are on the lookout for genuine material in a simple format.
Either way, I agree with this one because it's aesthetically appealing, it allows for a much faster loading experience, and it also abides by Inbound marketing principles. Keep your design and messaging simple, and people will spend less time wondering what to do on your site.
Another huge one. It's no surprise mobile design is taking off, especially when we take into account the fact that mobile internet use is poised to surpass desktops by 2014 It used to be enough to have a desktop site, and a separate mobile site. I refer to this process as "Appifying", because mobile sites tend to look a lot like and do a lot of the same things as apps.
Unfortunately, having multiple versions of one site is time consuming and can potentially be harmful from an SEO standpoint.
Moving into 2014, responsive sites (AKA one that provides the same set of content, but in a different layout on every device) will continue to grow. This is great for users, and exciting for designers. That being said, I think there is a tendency to go overboard in the mobile realm. Just last night, a friend of mine casually mentioned "Call me old fashioned, but I like normal websites. I can't find anything on these mobile shenanigans."
That got me thinking – if you're designing a site to better suit the needs of your mobile visitors, make sure you actually understand your audience and their preferences.
I keep seeing QR codes, and I keep wondering why. If you're unfamiliar with QR codes, they're the two-dimensional codes which can be read by smart phones to direct users to a landing page on your site. Yes, they are a little outside the realm of a traditional website designer, but I feel they're worth mentioning on account of the role they play in the way we experience the internet.
Being a Gen-Y web user, I'm a part of the demographic which presumably should have embraced them. So let me say, you heard it here: they are the opposite of cool. Unfortunately, QR codes require just a little bit too much time and technology investment on the user's behalf ("I have to download a reader?!"), and are generally not an incredibly effective way to drive traffic to your site.
I'm not big on this trend, and I don't know anyone else who is. But keep in mind, that sentiment might be unique to the US – according to TechCrunch, QR codes are taking off in Western markets.
The way we use the internet is changing, and with that comes a shift in the way we expect to digest content. Video is seeing a huge spike in presence on websites, and with good reason. Unbounce found that websites incorporating videos increased their conversion rates by 20%.
Videos don't have to be high budget to be engaging, and they also don't have to be full feature films. Just look to the popularity of Vine or Instagram's new video feature to see proof that social and tech savvy users respond well to impromptu video.
Sites from eCommerce to education are beginning to catch on to the value of video, and it's creating a new meaning for the way we experience the internet.
Single page navigation is a trend which solicits mixed reviews. Some are huge fans of the simplicity which comes alone with navigating through one dynamic page rather than among several. Some think it confuses users. Personally, I think this trend has created an array of visually intriguing websites in enjoyable formats. I will admit that it could potentially clash with the creation of effective landing pages and calls to action, as users might be unsure where to look on the page.
But let's stick to the positives. Many single page navigation sites are presented in a horizontal format, which I love. When I first experienced horizontal browsing on the new Myspace, I kept wondering why more designers hadn't taken this route sooner. It's a fundamental shift in the way we use a site, and yet it is So. Incredibly. Simple.
So, which trends will you be incorporating into your designing for 2013 and beyond? How will these tie into your Joomla experience? I can't wait to see what the community comes up with as design and development continue to evolve!
Image credits: http://mashable.com/2012/12/11/responsive-web-design/