Want to know why web design is so hard to get right?
It’s because it’s not one skill.
According to the web design team at Think Zap, one of Scotland’s leading web design agencies, it benefits to be fully laden with knowledge than spans from marketing and consumer psychology – all the way to innovative tech and cutting-edge programming.
But even then, the digital world doesn’t stop spinning. All of the areas it pays to understand develop on an almost weekly basis – what was in vogue yesterday is old hat today – as you’ll know from looking at and trying to use a site that’s not seen any updates in a couple of years.
It can be tricky knowing what’s hot today – let alone tomorrow, so we’ve talked to some innovative and forward-thinking web designers about what we’re going to see in 2018 and beyond. See if you and your brand are falling into line with what’s going to be the norm over the coming months and years…
- Chatbots and conversational UI
There’s an argument for conversational UI completely ruling the web design world going forward in time – but for 2018 at least, we’re going to see these technologies taking a more firm foothold in the sites we use.
The reason conversational UI has so much potential is because it appeals to a user’s sense of experiencing something that’s bespoke; that the site is responding to their specific wants and needs – rather than just throwing up the same experience that everyone gets.
Exceptional experiences also mean people come back and use your site again and again – and effective chatbots are resulting in much greater customer retention and revisit numbers almost universally.
Now, it’s arguable who benefits the most from this user specific experience online – the buyer or the vendor – but given there are benefits for both, it’s safe to say that chatbots and conversational UI is a firm win-win.
- Authentic photos
That picture of the smiling team that greets your traffic when they hit ‘contact us’ isn’t fooling anyone you know. The problem is, there’s a limited amount of stock photographs that tick the relevant boxes for a brand – and since there are millions of websites all putting out content on any one topic, there’s likely to be some repetition.
That repetition is a good way of saying ‘we’re a bit lazy’ to your traffic – a bit like you and all your friends turning up to the fancy dress party in the same lacklustre outfit. Lazy isn’t the type of brand image anyone’s hoping to portray – and even less so if you’re going to be representing someone else’s brand!
There’s a place for good stock photography – but as the hero image on your site it’s going to be a no-no in 2018. Instead, high quality authentic images are going to win the day.
Car manufacturer Hyundai recently ditched the small images of their range that featured on their homepage and replaced them with super high-quality, incredibly well shot images of their most prestigious cars. The result? A 62% increase in customers requesting test drives.
Exceptional images lead to exceptional conversions.
- Well-designed minimalism
Minimalism and negative space aren’t new ideas – but a break from the very-well-trodden path of black on expansive white backgrounds is long overdue.
Minimalism doesn’t have to be boring – in fact, it can be exceptionally colourful and beautifully designed while still being focused on the elements that matter. Take duotone images as an example – they’re a simple look (if not a little complex to create well) but are an excellent feature and unquestionably eye-catching.
What’s even better about a minimal approach is that it works exceptional well across all devices – and since the majority of web traffic is now mobile; minimal, well designed and light is a massive thumbs up.
- Stand out fonts
You may know a little about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative – essentially an open-source, stripped back version of HTML that truly optimises for mobile. AMP is a topic suitable for a discussion on its own – but it’s definitely having an impact on the designs that we see, especially around the use of fonts and typefaces.
When you’re stripping a page back to its essentials, text takes centre stage – and making sure it’s dressed for the occasion is important.
Although AMP allows for the quick cached loading of images, the emphasis is still on the page being light and quickly accessible – and from a user point of view, it’s the text that’s delivering the most important content 99% of the time.
Expect 2018 to see design that’s built around great looking text – and in some cases, text being used to create the impact that’s traditionally delivered by hero images, buttons and clickable pictures.
- SVGs to deliver immersive content
SVG files are vector images – able to scale up and down in a way that just isn’t practical with JPGs, PNGs and other pixel based formats. This is great – as it means page load time isn’t impacted – the first big tick in their favour.
Secondly – SVGs are going to be used to deliver the kind of image based experiences that we dreamed of as kids – 360 views, 3D images, cinemographs and more – exactly the kind of immersion that companies at the forefront of internet experience are keen to deliver.
- Greater IoT connectivity
The ‘Internet of Things’ has seen great steps forward in 2017 – and will continue to evolve throughout 2018 – with companies doing more and more with their sites to enable connectivity.
The sheer numbers of IoT devices make integration something of a natural next step – leading industry figures expect 30+ billion networked sensor enabled objects by 2020 – that’s around 4 for every person on the planet!
Although they’re not commonly used now, we can expect APIs that will allow developers to integrate communication with IoT devices from sites becoming increasingly popular over the next few years.
What does the overall picture look like?
Somewhat predictably, mobile is king in 2018 and beyond – but instead of the ‘optimised for mobile’ approach that we’ve seen up until now, expect ‘mobile first’ designs to be the norm – with styles, formats and interactions based on that principle.