I’ve seen website design trends come and go over the years. Sometimes what looks cool or cutting edge on a website isn’t the best solution for search engine optimization or the user experience. It’s important to balance the idea of a sharp design with the focus on achieving the goals of your website. I believe you can have both but you need to explore newer ideas with both concepts in mind. Not all new trends are best suited for all customers. Here are some 2016 website trends that you should consider ALL the pros and cons on before using them:
One Page Websites
The trend of one page websites actually started popping up a couple of years ago. They are sharp, simple and lightning fast to build – especially if you don’t need a custom look and a Strikingly template will do the trick. We’ve built some one page websites for our customers (iSwarm, Weka Solutions, and Vaccine Smart-Fridge to name a few), but only when it meets their goals and they know the drawbacks.
Pros of a One Page Website
Like I said, single page websites are a great solution when you need a website launched ultra fast. It works well for single product websites or sites that don’t have a ton of content to display. Sometimes they are used as temporary websites until more content is available and sometimes they are just all that is needed. Conversion rates tend to be high because they have laser focus and the site visitor doesn’t get lost in your content or distracted. They are also easier to maintain. All of this equates to a lower cost website overall.
Cons of a One Page Website
Single page designs aren’t for everyone. In fact, they are for few organizations in my opinion. Most companies have more to say than can be communicated effectively on a one page design. Also, one of the major ranking factors from Google is the amount of quality content and pages on your site, so a one pager flies in the face of that. In my experience, it’s difficult to rank well on Google with a one page design. So if SEO is a factor, you’re better off building a much more robust website with pages for each of your products, services and possibly even geographic markets.
What is Parallax Design? It’s a site that has background and foreground images or text moving at different speeds while the site visitor is scrolling up or down. It’s a cool effect that creates a sense of animation and a heightened interactive experience. Check out our Krantz Design website as a subtle sample, along with this very extreme example of this parallax design: http://www.ratatattoo.it.
Pros of Parallax Design
Parallax is fun and engaging. It also offers unique design opportunities to create a more stunning page design. When done extensively, the idea is that site visitors will spend more time on the site, thus improving search engine rankings.
Cons of Parallax Design
Studies have shown that while Parallax is considered “fun” it doesn’t always result in a better user experience. Numerous layers and photos can also cause a site to load slower, which will increase bounce rates and hurt search engine rankings. Page load times are another major ranking factor, so if you use parallax, be sure it doesn’t slow down your site.
Hamburger Menu Only
If you aren’t familiar with a hamburger menu or mobile menu, it’s a symbol consisting of three parallel horizontal lines (displayed as ≡) that is used as a button on websites. It’s called a “hamburger” because it it looks kind of like a bun-meat-bun sandwich. See a sample here.
In the past, their use has been limited to mobile devices – when your top navigation menu is too wide for the device’s screen, it switches to a hamburger menu on responsive designs. The new trend cropping up more and more now though is ONLY using a hamburger menu. So the site developer assumes the visitors know that the small symbol will open a plethora of additional page links. The idea being that visitors are familiar enough with websites these days that they recognize this menu and will take the step to click the hamburger menu to see more detail.
Pros of Hamburger Menu Only
Really the only reason to use a hamburger menu only would be for an ultra clean, minimalist design. Keeping all the clutter of a full navigation menu off the site, regardless of what size screen it’s being viewed from.
Cons of Hamburger Menu Only
Using only this style of menu can result in confusion if your customer base isn’t highly versed in web browsing. It assumes people recognize this small graphic and know how to use it. Maybe that isn’t a stretch, but you may want to gauge your confidence that your site visitor will be compelled to click a hamburger menu every time, before seeing anything enticing them to do so. In other words, there isn’t any text pulling them in to click and learn more.
One other issue to consider is that this “hamburger” graphic may be easily recognizable today to most users as a way to see a full navigation menu, but based on how quickly trends change, will it still provide the same function in the future? Will a site visitors perception of the hamburger menu always be the same, or might it be used differently down the line?
You’ve seen these lately… a video running in the background at the top of the site where a carousal or photo slider used to be… like you see here or here. It’s a visually appealing and engaging way to draw in site visitors.
The Video Headers pros and cons are pretty obvious. They can require some patience from a site visitor which can be a drawback. You need to stay focused on quick page load times to avoid losing visitors or having them skip all your hard work anyhow.
Card Style or Card-Based Design
This is one of the newest design trends that I expect to see much more of soon, but am still figuring out how to apply it (and if I should apply it) to my customers. What is Card Style design? It’s individual pieces of boxed content that looks like it is featured on a playing card of sorts. Card-style boxes typically hold one unique bit of content or information. Then several cards are placed together on a page or section of the site. Here are a few samples:
Pros of Card Style Design
One of the main reasons this trend is taking off is because cards are extremely responsive to any size screen or device. Also, the design is very visual and easily scanned without a firm hierarchy of content being predetermined by the developer. In other words, all of the content can be perceived as equally visible and the site visitor decides what to click based on their individual interests. With that being said, testing should be done to see which cards are most popular and make site adjustments accordingly.
Cons of Card Style Design
A card style design isn’t for everyone – and it’s a ginormous departure from traditional website design. So transitioning to or from this style may be an expensive experiment. Also, information can be hard to find on your website due to the lack of hierarchy. This can result in visitor frustration due to a less logical layout. And finally, card style designs can be more difficult to update. Depending on the design, they might require some graphic design on each card element.
If you have questions about any other website design trends for 2016, please let me know. I’d love to discuss ideas and options with you to help you achieve your online marketing goals!
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