You want buyers to be wowed by your company’s website — that is, if they can actually find your website.
It’s one thing to have a stunning online presence, but that doesn’t mean your site will convert or function the way you want it to. Likewise, you can have a website that technically functions properly with all the right features and killer content, but if its design or UX is off-putting (or, worse, downright ugly), it can tarnish your brand and will ultimately result in less traffic and conversions.
Ideally, you’ll achieve just the right combination of form and function. We interviewed two of our web developers to get their perspectives on website design trends for 2019: Justin Harrison, our creative web design wizard, tackles the newest visual design trends while Jon Stanis, our self-proclaimed UX snob, digs into the latest conversion strategies for 2019.
Justin’s List of 2019 Web Design and Online Graphic Arts Trends
1. Organic Natural Shapes and Monochromatic, Minimal designs
In many ways, these design elements are separate, but they work together in terms of overall direction for your web design. More abstract, asymmetrical images that mimic natural curves and fluid shapes are dominating trends right now. Those who prefer to stick with more linear features are violating traditional symmetric grids. Widely accepted design “rules” such as using odd numbers or staying within boundaries are being shaken up. There’s a lot of white space that’s off balance, copy that expands beyond the text box or doesn’t have a box at all, and images that overlap. These fluid and overlapping shapes help break up rigid structure and offer a level of free-form depth that feels inviting to visitors.
2. Serif Headlines
Serif fonts are often used on printed materials because they’re considered easier to read, but the clean lines of sans serif fonts have been more common on websites. Until now. We’re combining the two and using serif fonts for headlines and callouts, especially for industries that want to tap into their history, highlight artisan qualities or create a sense of nostalgia. Food manufacturers, for example, want to harken back to feelings of cooking alongside grandma in her kitchen, the wholesomeness of a family farm, or that time as a child spent plucking tomatoes off the vine in a garden. These nuances generate a feeling of trust.
Because of tools like Adobe Typekit and Google Fonts, you can customize fonts for use on your website to create more progressive designs, allowing you to combine an old-school feel with modern minimalism.
3. GIFs and Subtle Animations
Gifs were big in the late 90s and early 2000s, and they’re trending again. They’ve definitely had an upgrade since then, however. GIFs being used today aren’t necessarily funny; rather, they’re using subtle animations and showcasing images that naturally fade in and out or move across the screen. I think this is a trend that has some staying power as marketers look for yet another way to capture our attention. You don’t want to overdo it, though. Remember when you discovered all the features available on PowerPoint and included crazy animation on every slide? Yeah, don’t be that guy. Be subtle.
I think video backgrounds on websites are going to stick around because they can instantly communicate what your company is about. It’s popular now to feature “B-roll” footage on the home page and then have a button to play the full corporate video in a pop-over lightbox. We’re finding this approach is being well received when the featured footage is done well and is intriguing, enticing users to click and watch the full video. Of course, there are plenty of other places to feature video, so be strategic about placement and get creative. Google is putting more emphasis on mixed search page results, meaning a web page with video is more likely to rank higher than standard text.
5. Mobile-First Design
There’s definitely a shift in how we approach web design as more and more people use mobile devices as the primary method for their online activities. Instead of starting out with a desktop version and then adjusting it to make sure it works on mobile, many are taking the reverse approach. Industries that see heavy traffic on mobile, such as banking, insurance and technology solutions, should really consider moving in this direction. Google rankings prefer mobile accessibility, and websites with a mobile-first approach load faster to make for a better user experience. I see increasing adoption of mobile-first design in the next five years as more people rely on their handheld devices to connect online.
Jon’s List of 2019 Web Design and User Experience (UX) Trends
Creating a great online user experience for those with visual impairments isn’t always on a designer’s radar, but there’s a growing need for accessibility. Having alt text for images is a start, but beyond that, we need to make sure that content is structured so those with screen readers can easily decipher the information. Other considerations are contrast ratios. While a light grey background with slightly darker text might be the look you’re going for, there are those who won’t be able to read it very well. Check out the guidelines provided by W3C, a web accessibility initiative.
Accessibility considerations aren’t just for those with physical impairments. We also need to consider accessibility for those without high-speed internet or those using mobile devices with poor cell reception. Stuffing websites with excess script, large images or code running in the background can take forever to load. Structure your site for “lazy loading,” which only loads the necessary text first or doesn’t load images until you scroll down to where they are.
2. Progressive Web Apps
3. Conversion Rate Optimization and GDD
No longer can you redesign or overhaul a website every two to three years and expect it to perform well. Every website needs to be constantly updated or it will quickly become outdated. This Growth-Driven Design approach uses analytics to help drive web design and continuous improvement cycles to determine what needs updating. It’s good to have an opinion about what might look good, but the best way to improve a site’s functionality and engagement is to look at data to see how people are actually interacting with your website. Tools like heat maps can show where people are disengaging or exiting pages and indicate where you might need to rearrange content or insert something enticing to keep them on the page. The set-it-and-forget-it website is a thing of the past.
4. Bots and Pop-up Forms as Conversion Methods
While gated content and contact forms definitely still have their place, the adoption of pop-up forms and chat bots using artificial intelligence can be seen almost everywhere and on every page. To me, it’s almost a negative trend and one where web designers should tread lightly. Why? When a website constantly asks you to convert — sometimes before you even have a chance to know what it’s about — it can get annoying. Really annoying. Not only that, if your bot or short form only asks a single question, there’s little way to filter the quality of those leads. Additionally, “smart” functionality is somewhat limited in these tools, so if people already converted on a particular offer and it keeps asking them to convert again, it reflects poorly on your brand and can turn off high-quality visitors. Bots and pop-up forms can be great tools when used strategically, but, once again, analytics will tell the story best. Each web developer will need to determine just how well or how poorly these various methods work for converting good quality MQLs and SQLs.
There you have it! You can probably tell that having both Justin and Jon on our team creates a force to be reckoned with! Take their advice when approaching web design by balancing form and function. Better yet, take the next step and have them help you optimize your website to make it the best it can be, both visually and functionally. Reach out to us today to discuss your website needs. Plus, download our Growth-Driven Design Checklist for tips on how to take a data-driven continuous improvement approach to web design.