Long-term tech trends and shorter term aesthetic design trends are transforming the look of websites. Not every trend has to be adopted. Our user experience designer Stefan Schmidt explains the reasons.
Which trends in web design should companies always take into account?
The majority of them are worth considering. It provides an extraordinary creative scope to tell stories visually, audiovisually or even via virtual reality. These can be animated graphics or fonts, moving images, avatars or gamification. Content marketing, web, UX and motion design teams should work closely together to design the overall presence and content in a meaningful way. And this should be done in such a way that the high effort is balanced by a clear benefit for the users and the success of the marketing.
Beyond that, mobile first is an irreversible trend. It has implications for the entire design of a website – as well as for individual elements such as graphics, images, animations and interaction offers. The website must be optimally designed and load quickly on mobile phones. Every piece of information must be recognizable on the small screen, and every navigation must be easy to use. But desktop display must also meet aesthetic standards. This is where design expertise comes into play!
Not everything that looks practical and appealing on mobile phones will also look as good on desktop. On larger screens, mobile minimalism can look clunky and crude. The challenge designers face is finding a way to balance these two.Stefan Schmidt, User Experience Designer, Rheindigital
What else is trending?
A number of design trends are currently coming together that in themselves are not new and didn’t even come from the internet world. Now, the time has come to rediscover them. One of them is Memphis design, which dates back more than 40 years to Milan. It was a rebellion against the functional, the austere, the classical. It expressed itself in a colourful and shape-shattering way and was not always practical either. Today, we see the Memphis look more and more often on websites, for example, in gaudy start pages, deviations from grid-compatible templates and unusual product presentations.
Sometimes you’ll see the exact opposite…
That’s right, minimalism is content with black type on a white background, for example, and allows pictures and moving images to appear only rarely or only through user interaction, and does away with anything that could be distracting. This allows users to concentrate on the content. Pages designed in this style don’t have load time issues. Combined with intelligent navigation and sparse, high-impact effects, minimalism can be exciting and sophisticated – and thus anything but boring.
How should companies decide when they want to refresh their image and are faced with contradictory web design movements?
It is good to be familiar with a variety of style-trends. And depending on how important it is for the company to be fashionable, it should make use of them. However, there are a few guiding questions to consider: Does this design fit my message? Can my target groups do something with it? Is good usability guaranteed despite the redesign? And does it work with your corporate identity? Last but not least, a trend is a trend. If too many people emulate it, the uniqueness is gone.
Are there use cases where you should be a little more daring?
Of course there are. If a company is designing microsites or landing pages for a precisely defined purpose and a specific sub-target group or is planning a completely new type of campaign, the design should by all means be out of the ordinary. If the communication team wants to set new standards, yes, it needs some guts. The new look will become a talking point. It will get positive attention and expand the creative scope of the team behind it.
What does this mean for the implementation of a brand new web design?
Implementing a sustainable design for corporate websites requires a focused development of further company-related criteria – in addition to the trend you find exciting at the time. Then, working with your design team and your developers, you can explore the possibilities and work out the modules and styles.
There’s a time and a place for stylistic trends, however unusual, as long as they align with the company’s purpose and don’t get in the way of the site’s usability. From my point of view, design follows function, and design follows emotion.Stefan Schmidt, User Experience Designer, Rheindigital
What role does emotion play in design?
As I see it, emotion is on a par with function. All websites create a user experience and with it emotions – ideally positive ones. Colours, motifs, interactive elements and animated images all play a role in this. In content creation and design, the following applies: the needs of the target groups must be clear. This includes emotional needs. Those involved in the design of the website need user data and knowledge of trends. For example, the Corona pandemic created emotional needs across target groups, such as positivity. When creating a web design, you also need knowledge about the emotional situation of the respective target group in which phase of the customer journey. People who book a cruise are in a different mood than people who need funeral floristry.
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Read this interview in German
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