As we continue in Web Design Month, in this post we’re going to look at some important trends in web design. I don’t do the nitty-gritty detail work of hands-on web design and chances are you don’t either. So, we’re going to look at the trends from the 30,000 foot level leaders and communications directors can understand.
1) Content Management Systems CMS’s are certainly not new, but their march towards dominance continues in 2012. It just doesn’t make sense to publish a website in a series of HTML files so that your web designer is the only one who can update your content. A better approach is to develop a website around a CMS like Joomla, Drupal, WordPress or even a simple CMS like our NE1 Web Builder. Let your web developer develop/design your site based on a CMS so that your non-technical staff & volunteers can login and update the content themselves.
2) Wider layouts As computer screens continue to get wider, websites do as well. The latest w3schools stats show 98% of computer users have a screen resolution of at least 1024 pixels wide with 85% being wider than that. 960 pixels wide is a very safe standard. If your site is narrower than that, you’re pushing content down on your site that could be “above the fold.”
3) The Mobile Dynamic There are two opposing dynamics at work when it comes to mobile web browsing. One the one hand it’s exploding in popularity meaning the number of people viewing websites on their small screens is increasing. But on the other hand, the power of mobile devices and the resolution of their screens are growing rapidly as well. Do you need a mobile version of your site?
That’s a complex issue that deserves its own blog post, but for the sake of this post, I’ll point out that the vast majority of websites look and function just fine on mobile devices (as long as they’re not done in Flash). You can probably provide mobile users a better experience by creating a mobile version of your site, so the question is how many people would that benefit, how much better would their experience be, and is it worth the cost.
4) Blog/magazine style The website continues to become the communications hub for more organizations, as such website have been changing from billboards to communications centers. Organizations are producing and publishing more articles, images, and videos than ever before and those items are being given more prominence as they design their sites to look more like blogs and magazines.
5) Simple As more creativity goes into the content being produced, many organizations are simplifying the design of their websites even further. The philosophy is that your goal isn’t to get people to marvel at the design of your site, it’s to catch people’s attention with your content – the headlines, images and videos that highlight who you are and what you do. This is the path we chose with the new OurChurch.Com site. We simplified the site itself and put color and creativity into the content – the slides on the homepage and section homepages.
6) Image/Content slideshows Speaking of slides, they are another trend that continues to grow. Image/content slideshows accomplish two good things. First, they enable you to show dramatically more content “above the fold.” Second, they create motion which is a proven attention-getter. You see content slideshows on almost every news/sports website now days and many churches, schools and businesses are beginning to use them as well.
7) Video integration Online video continues to rise in popularity for many reasons. Every smart phone can now shoot HD-quality video. The cost of good video editing software and a computer to run it continue to drop. People value authenticity and so raw video is often more effective than a fancy, over-produced video. Plus compared with text and still images, video is flat-out memorizing. Many organizations are trying to do more with video and feature video more prominently on their sites.
8 ) Social media integration Social media is not going away or even slowing down. Smart organizations are designing their websites to fit with the social media habits of their visitors. This includes making it quick and easy to connect with their social media profiles and encouraging and facilitating the sharing of content.
What do you think these trends in web design? What are you doing to capitalize on these trends? See any others we should be paying attention to?