Whether it’s for the sake of upgrading our SEO practices to appease Google’s search algorithm or making our websites more accessible to improve the user experience, there are always plenty of things to consider and talk about.
So to help you out, we’re going to talk about a couple of web design trends that are already starting to rear their heads in preparation for next year.
The majority of internet users today have likely grown up using older search engines such as Ask Jeeves and Google. As such, it’s common for us to simply type in a term into the search bar, hit enter and then search through a list of results to find what we’re looking for. However, as more handheld devices like smartphones start to do away with buttons and the concept of smart home starts to become a reality, we’re going to see people move away from traditional search and instead, start using their voice.
Voice-based search is already starting to become popular in parts of the world that are still seeing increased smartphone adoption such as China. In those areas, the idea of a traditional search bar and typing in your query is alien to new smartphone adopters. Using a computer is also fairly uncommon compared to the incredible popularity of affordable budget smartphones, and those factors contribute to the country’s growing use of voice searches. For the rest of the world, voice search will increase in popularity due to the adoption of hands-free devices like Apple’s AirPods and smart home hubs such as the Amazon Echo.
For now, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the most popular voice search terms and try to adjust your website’s SEO towards them. Currently, the most popular terms are all location-related, so it’s a good idea to get your business on Google’s own business directory if you haven’t already and target location-based keywords.
Since the year 2000, Google’s iconic front page and logo have changed roughly a dozen times. Most people don’t realize it has changed, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s subtle, different, but not enough to change the way that you use Google.
This is a theme that we’re going to see often in 2020. Website designs in the past have been rooted in “change” which isn’t necessarily bad, but the worst thing you can do to your customers is throw them a curveball and completely change the way your website looks without a good reason. This happened to countless Twitter users that were furious when the desktop website suddenly changed into something that resembled the mobile layout. Forcing updates like this onto your users is a terrible idea, especially if your website serves as a dashboard for your services.
Instead of constantly changing things, add subtle and small changes by continuously updating your website. A small change to your logo, new navigation options that aren’t drastically different and gradual changes to the fonts and colors of your site will be better-received, they won’t scare off existing users and updating your website with modern styles will help draw in new audiences. Your website likely doesn’t need a complete overhaul (especially if you’re actively trying to optimize it to improve the user experience) so focus on subtle changes that won’t fundamentally change the way your website works unless it’s for a good reason.
One of the worst habits that web masters have started to pick up is neglecting to optimize their websites for speed. Sure, technology is improving which results in faster phones and speedy internet connections, so an argument could be made that rapid website development and deployment is more important than shaving off a second or two from your load times. However, the reality is that most people in the world aren’t going to be using cutting edge 5G phones as soon as they release. In fact, most people in the world aren’t going to be using 5G even 2-3 years after it starts to roll out. This is because 5G requires specific handsets, it’s limited by network and the coverage isn’t going to be amazing. In other words; everyone is still going to be using 4G and even 3G connections when accessing your website on their phone.
This means that you should continue to optimize your website for speed. 5G connections are going to be fantastic for those that can afford and access it, but don’t plan your website for 5G in mind. This means that you should continue to reduce file sizes of pictures, you should continue to build mobile-optimized sites that are speedy and you should continue to offload large files such as videos onto other platforms like YouTube. In short, don’t take the introduction of 5G as a go-ahead to be lazy.
One of the biggest design trends to overtake the web is minimalism. The idea of a clean and responsive website layout is the dream of many designers, but it’s often taken out of context and used in the most outrageous and incorrect ways. You see, minimalistic websites can work well in the age of smartphones that have smaller screen sizes, but that doesn’t mean they should be devoid of information as many designers seem to think. Another caveat of this minimalistic trend is that websites can look incredibly generic. Basic templates are clean and simple but there’s so little innovation that they all look the same. The fonts are identical, the same color palettes are reused and it’s easy to copy (read: steal) website designs that nothing feels unique anymore.
This has created an endless swarm of cookie-cutter websites that just look lazy, plain and boring. Some designers are taking this trend even further by hiding or leaving out useful information from their sites, and a lot of people struggle to use certain websites because they’re just filled with images and almost zero meaningful or useful text. It’s not uncommon to see designers take the concept of minimalism too far, hence the importance of looking at your website’s design from an objective perspective.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes the next time you visit your website and ask yourself what you can do to improve the experience and make it more enjoyable. Look for ways to fit more on the screen without making it cluttered, search for ways to reduce the number of clicks something takes and try to make everything fit on a single page so that your users don’t need to scroll too much to get the information they need. Aim to make your viewer spend more time looking at information and learning about your products as opposed to scrolling through useless information and bloated content that serves no purpose but to frustrate or annoy them. Get straight to the point, cut the fluff and realize that minimalism has been taken completely out of context for the past couple of years.
To conclude, the goal of website design in 2020 is to keep things simple and stable. Yes, technologies such as augmented reality and 5G networks are exciting for everyone, but they’re not going to change the way you fundamentally design your website. The smart thing to do would be to continue improving your website as you have for 2019 and avoid caving into those expensive trends and party tricks. After all, a slow and steady approach is the safest way to win the race.