The benefits and pitfalls of popular website design trends.

The benefits and pitfalls of popular website design trends.

 

When you’re designing your website, it’s tempting to follow the popular trends to keep up with everyone else around you. The problem is that fads change. When they do, your site is out of date. It’s especially tempting to simply focus on the visual aspects of your website but successful design depends as much on what your website does behind the scenes as it does on what the website looks like.

 

Here’s a breakdown of the key 2016 website design trends along with their pros and their cons.

 

 

1.  The long scroll.

One of the most popular trends of recent years and seen quite widely across the internet because of that. Based on the notion that, the further you’re willing to scroll, the more detail you’ll find (on the assumption that you’re a more engaged visitor if you are willing to scroll).

 

Pros:

  • a more natural user experience especially for the mobile browsing as, on smartphones, we’re so used to scrolling now.
  • It allows for more content per page which results in fewer pages on your website and therefore less clicks for the visitor to make to navigate through your content.
  • The space tends to also allow for more white space on the page so it appears less cluttered to the visitor.

 

Cons:

  • Some people have taken advantage of the long scroll to combine all their pages into just one long scrolling page, which makes successful SEO more challenging as there are too many keywords being featured on the one page.
  • Typically you need one target keyword per page.
  • Where the long scroll is combined with a parallax scroll (that’s what makes blocks on your screen look as if they’re moving behind each other to create depth), there are instances where it causes motion sickness for your visitors! So it’s recommended to use it in moderation.

           

2.  The hamburger menu.

 

A popular feature that came about with the rise of mobile websites. If you don’t know what we mean by a hamburger menu, it’ll the 3 lines you click when you’re looking at a website on your phone to bring up the site navigation.

 

Pros:

  • It’s a brilliant way of balancing available space with ease of navigation on mobile. This is such a big pro, we only need this one in the list.

 

            Cons:

  • Given its popularity, the hamburger menu has made its way onto the desktop version of websites too. In effect, this hides the site navigation from the user which may cause confusion to the visitor and make them unable to navigate your site.
  • While it’s a familiar feature for visitors, it’s only familiar with mobile sites causing friction for the user when used on the desktop.
  • If you’re focusing on news or popular interest, you’re hiding your content as the visitor can’t view or easily search for the relevant content.

 

3.  Carousels on the homepage.

 

We’ve become accustomed to seeing these quite widely too. Typically, they’re used as a way to show more information to the visitor without clutter and scrolling.

 

Pros:

  • It provides greater space to convey your messages to your visitors ‘above the fold’ as you create three screens where you’d typically only have one.
  • Visual interest is added to the site through some engagement by the visitor of clicking through it.

 

Cons:

  • It can affect the load time of your website - the more elements that need to load, the slower your site will be to respond. This is important (see here for more of the important site elements).
  • The content within the carousel can’t be crawled by Google so won’t help your search optimisation.
  • Some results suggest that due to ‘banner blindness’, visitors don’t engage with the carousel. In fact, click rates could be as low as 1%.

 

 

4.  The popularity and prevalence of templates.

With the relentless growth in the paper of the internet, ever-increasing numbers of people are going online. This has been combined with a number of DIY options such as WordPress templates, Wix, SquareSpace and so on, enabling amateurs to become successful web publishers.

 

Pros:

  • Affordability: definitely more cost-effective and especially for anyone just starting out (but that may not necessarily be the case)
  • Dependent upon your vision and available, it’s likely that you can get yourself up and running in an afternoon so it could be the speedier option.
  • You can retain control of the design and creation process because no knowledge of code is needed.

 

 

Cons:

  • Like with any popular item, if you like it then others will too. Things can quickly start to appear quite samey-samey so your website will be less easily identifiable as yours.
  • The obvious benefit of outsourcing your web development is that you don’t have to do it yourself and, with so many of us being time poor, this is invaluable.
  • There are limitations of what you can achieve with a template. You’ll be able to customise but you won’t be able to change so the end result could be a compromise on your vision.

 

Looking for further inspiration? Check out our earlier blog on 10 things you 100% need on your website in 2016. Or if you want someone to take the hassle away and just deliver you an effective website, get in touch or tweet me @anthonyjohns0n.

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