We’re pleased to share the following post from an accomplished member of Jacksonville’s dynamic digital marketing/tech community, Karena Kreger of Open Sky Web Studio.

Website designs have an expiration date. Let’s consider the designs of 2011, before responsive mobile design was the norm. Websites from that time period that still require pinch and zoom on our phones are shockingly ineffective today, even if the site owners don’t want to admit it. Stagnant sites will not only damage your user’s experience and translate to a drop in online conversions, but can also damage your all-important “findability.” As standards and best practices change, there becomes an expectation that sites keep up with the times, or be left in the dust.

For example, Google now penalizes the ranking of non-responsive websites in mobile search.You probably already know that but consider this. The next items to be punished by the Google machine are pop-ups and other content-blocking techniques. Don’t care about Google? Consider users themselves. Users will quickly leave sites that make it too hard to get to the good stuff. If the page is overloaded with ads, pop-ups and other clutter, you better believe that page will not be shared, like, saved, followed, or even tolerated. So much for gaining social media momentum with your busy site design.

A consistent, scheduled rebuild of your company’s website needs to be an expected part of your ongoing marketing plan. No longer can we set it and forget it with one big design project that we then ignore for years to come. Things change and so must you. Let’s take a look at some of the current trends and layouts that can increase your effectiveness.

Straightforward Words

Clever is not better. Vague or fancy words that leave the customer wondering what exactly you do serve no one well. It doesn’t help SEO. It doesn’t help conversion. And it doesn’t help you connect with customers when you try to dazzle with your run-on sentence elevator pitch. Instead, clearly and simply say what you do, why the customer should care, and how you’ll guide them.

Big & Bold Fonts

Trends in typography are fun to watch. With the rise of minimalism, many designs utilized narrow, modern font choices. Now watch for the return of the bold chunky font that won’t be ignored. Often this font will be paired with another more sleek font surrounded by an abundance of white space. Say one thing and say it well.

Death to Sliders

In years past, sliders and sidebars became the dumping ground of every last-minute idea we thought just HAD to be on the site. Instead of increasing options for the customer, we numbed them with a hodgepodge of afterthoughts. Sliders, in particular, are suffering a slow painful death with terrible performance on mobile devices and severe lack of engagement past the first one or two slides. Instead, curate what
you REALLY want to say and take the time for some serious thought on how to lay it out. Delete the noise.

Single-Message Pages

Large, clear hero images and background looping videos make compelling statements. This trend is a few years old but persists because of the power of a simple single message and call to action. To freshen up the trend, watch for a split-screen layout on large screens with two equal parts, just like an open book.

Smooth Transitions & Subtle Animations

Guiding customers through a smooth online experience doesn’t have to include invasive and expensive coded wizards and bots. Instead, a few small movements on a page can help them intuitively know where to go and what to do next. This trend breaks the hard divisions between sections and content and subtly guides customers on the path to conversion.

Create a Conversation

Successful sites are designed with the customer in mind. And the customer is always asking one question, “Why do I care?” The best way to answer that question is to create a script for an imaginary conversation with your customer. Then lay out your pages answering those questions. From top to bottom, speak the language of your customer. And if they are not asking it, don’t include it.

Has your site become stale? Consider implementing a regular redesign to stay engaged and relevant. Your customers will thank you.