Thursday, December 15, 2016

Website Design Is So Trendy

Part Two - Website Design

December 25th is almost here and for some of us this means the goose is getting fat and it’s time to put a penny in the old man’s hat. Actually, it probably doesn’t mean that for any of us.

But whatever your reality this early December, the end of the year seems to be a time to reflect. And while we hope you’re reflecting on the good things in life rather than how you behaved at the office holiday party, at LeDuc Creative, we’ve been reflecting lately on areas where we took a different approach in 2016 to better serve our clients. 

The first area was SEO. We covered it in our last riveting post entitled, Let’s Talk Turkey about 2016.

So it only makes sense that the second area would be website design. Because once the SEO gets the visitors to the site, we had to determine what it would take to get them to stay. And we had to not only know what worked, but know what worked specifically in 2016.

There were more than a few trends that needed to be considered in designing websites this past year.

-The Proliferation of User Interface Patterns
Problems with user interface have created responsive web design that has left a lot of sites looking the same. While similarities aren’t a bad thing, we had to find new and challenging ways to make sites stand out while still avoiding difficulties with user interface.

Among some of the patterns and techniques our designers are familiar with are the hamburger menu, account registration, the long scroll, card layouts and the use of hero images.

-Rich Animations
There’s a right way and a not so right way to use animations. They are generally thought of in terms of two groups:

Large scale which include effects like parallax scrolling and pop-up notifications and are used as a primary interaction tool to have more impact on users.  
Small scale which include spinners, hover tools and loading bars, but don’t require any user input.

Our designers consider carefully whether the animation technique they use - from spinners to hovering to background to whatever - enhances the client’s site’s story elements and personality rather than serve as a distraction.

We engage in micro-interactions all day long. It happened the last time you “liked” something on Facebook or set the timer on your phone.

Micro-interactions are an important part of nearly every digital design project in that they add a human element. To design any website these days without some sort of element for user interaction is almost as rare as a log having deep thoughts.

They are also key in helping with communicating a status or bit of feedback, seeing the result of an action and assisting the user manipulate something.

-Material Design
In 2015, Google launched its new style language, Material Design. It was followed by Material Design Lite which was better suited toward web design. Our designers ate it up.

Material Design uses shadow effects and the concepts of movement and depth to create clean and modern designs that appear more realistic to the user.

It doesn’t rely on any particular framework so it allows the designers to use a bunch of front-end tools (not to be confused with front-end loaders) in creating their sites. Another plus - when it comes to code, it’s pretty lightweight.

-Responsive Design

Responsive web is among the most popular because it’s a relatively simple and cost-efficient way for businesses to build a fully-functional mobile-friendly site. If it’s not executed properly though, then performance suffers. Performance is important to the user experience, but also to Google.

Since it’s become necessary to keep page weight down, responsive design is very compatible with minimalism. With all of this in play, responsive web design is becoming less of a trend and more of a regular practice.

-Flat Design

Flat design isn’t new. It’s been around for a while and is compatible with other trends such as minimalism, responsive web design and Material Design.

Some of the techniques designers are incorporating in flat design are long shadows, vibrant color schemes, simply typography, ghost buttons and minimalism.
Ultimately, it’s important to know the trends, but to remember that they’re just additional tools for designers. At LeDuc Creative, we are well versed in the latest trends, but know that the biggest rule for website design is not to follow trends just because they’re the thing” at the moment. (Unfortunately, not all of the designers apply this rule to fashion.)

So while making websites more device friendly was a trend relevant to our clients like Lynn Foley Law, What’s Cooking Ann Arbor and J&M Strategic Consulting, on the other side of that coin we produced a Manufacturing Day video for Wenzel. And while that may sound old-school, it turned out to be a great asset for them.

There’s something to be said for old-school and tradition. And we will address that specific topic in the third post on our series 2016-The Year That Was. (It’s not really called that.) It will also be our final post for 2016.

See ya there.