Why web design trends don’t paint the full picture
Minimalism, white space, dark modes. Web design trends are constantly changing. In 2020, the hot trends most frequently touted focus on ultra-minimalist navigation, immersive elements and a deeper blend between the use of photography and graphics. While following trends may make your website visually attractive in the short term, George Hadfield, Mobas’ Head of Digital, explains why there’s so much more to website creation than a beautiful topcoat.
Web development blends a range of skills and disciplines. A successful project will blend strategic expertise with creative design, intelligent thinking, business goals and efficient code deployment. At Mobas, we don’t simply design a user interface, layout or page design that looks good, is usable and accessible. We set out from the start to develop a site that will help you accomplish your business objectives.
Design trends are, of course, important because they give fresh inspiration and insight into new techniques, but the implementation of those techniques and styles needs to be intelligent and focused if you’re going to make an impact and create a website that will stand the test of time.
So, rather than starting with design preferences, here are three critical things you should always consider before commencing your web build.
Start with discovery
Starting a website project with a discovery phase allows you to get under the skin of what you need your website to deliver. What are your business goals? Are you trying to generate sales, raise brand awareness, educate and inform? Once you understand the organisation goals, you’ll be in a much better position to know what role the website is likely to play.
Once you identify what the website needs to do, you need to identify who your users are going to be and how they’re likely to use it. While it’s easy to assume you know your audience from past experience, that assumption isn’t always going to be reliable or relevant so we always recommend speaking to a broad range of stakeholders to get the full picture and work out which audiences are the most important. This is particularly important as your audience will not only influence the general aesthetic of the website but will also determine a lot of smaller details, such as font sizes, so make sure you’re clear about who will be using your website.
Define your brand image
It can be tempting to jump on the trends bandwagon when designing a site, which can easily result in a site that doesn’t accurately portray the brand image your business wants to communicate. Transitions, videos, gradients and dynamic content might work for some websites, but are they right for your brand? It’s important to ensure that your website accurately demonstrates not only your visual brand but also the tone of voice you want to use for your business. Your website is your shop window, so take time to ensure it reflects who you are and how you want to be seen by the world.
Use analytics and insights to build for the future
A website should be made to last. So long as it has been clearly defined and built using robust technology and a supported Content Management System (CMS), your website should be future-proof. But a website should never be seen as a finished project, that sits in a static state from when it’s first launched. Instead, you should always reflect on your website’s performance to optimise the site as you learn more about how your users are engaging with it. There are a host of free-to-use tools that give insight into website performance. Before you start a new website build, take some time to review visitor information and page performance using the Google suite of tools (Google Analytics, Search Console and Data Studio) to ensure you fully understand what currently works and what your users are engaging with.
Following trends isn’t wrong. Trends are there for a reason. They highlight what the average Joe likes and aims to create something new and exciting. There’s nothing wrong with embracing minimalism or creating a dark mode for your website, so long as it’s something that your unique audience will respond well to and something that sits well with your brand.