Your company can provide the best products and services, but when it comes down to it, your website either lets your customers know you want to do business in this century or reveals that you’re stuck in the dark ages.
If your website seems to be sinking among the hipster vibe that’s filling cyberspace, here are 13 trends and 37 examples to help you dominate online.
- Responsive Web Design (RWD)
- HTML5 and CSS3
- Mobile Design
- Simple, but Content Rich
- Social Integration
- Large Photos
- The Death of Flash
- jQuery Effects
- Themes for Purchase vs. Custom Designs
- WordPress Sites: the Plugin Revolution
- Data and Analytics
- Think Local
1. Responsive Web Design (RWD)
The era of the desktop web browser is over (well, sorta) —the Internet is no longer a virtual space accessed mainly by desktop computer users. With the increased popularity of smartphones and tablets, apps (we’re not talking about hors d’oeuvres here) and mobile websites seem to be taking over the world. Since you don’t know who will be using what type of device to view your website, it’s important that your website is flexible enough to look great with a variety of configurations and resolutions. For the web designer, responsive design means you do the work once and the website adapts to any screen. For the web surfer, responsive design means that every wave seems like it was generated specifically for you. How’s that for making you feel special?
2. HTML5 and CSS3
Getting your website mobile-ready has implications beyond mere design. CSS3 helps graphic-laden websites operate smoothly on mobile devices. HTML5 phases out Flash and offers integrated page caching. Even though HTML5 and CSS3 were on the rise last year, they will continue to grow in popularity as mobile devices become more prevalent. HTML5 and CSS3 work well across a variety of platforms and don’t necessitate the use of plugins.
3. Mobile Design
Without a doubt, web design trends 2013 and beyond are focused on the mobile platform. That’s because sales of PCs and notebooks are declining as sales of smart phones increase. We’re on the move, and not much is static anymore. Consumers want to be able to access online information in a format that works on a small scale, and they don’t always prefer using an app. Mobile is no longer a secondary channel for consumers to access online information; it’s the primary way we live our lives now. Website designs will move toward seamlessness with mobile devices as the popularity of apps waxes and wanes.
Web design in 2013 isn’t going to throw brand identity to the wind in exchange for trendy themes and a fashionable design. There’s a return to authenticity that’s coming into play more than ever this year. If your web design doesn’t harmonize with your mission and your vision, you’re more likely to fall flat. As you revamp your image for 2013, don’t don the thick black glasses if you have 20/20 vision, and lay off the quirky comedy if you’re a stuffy, buttoned-up type. Play with what you have, don’t strive to imitate a fad in the name of attracting more visitors. They’ll see right through you.
5. Simple, but Content Rich
Google’s Penguin and Panda updates have led to many frantic articles touting the end of SEO. Although search engine optimization continues to exist, best practices keep changing, and SEO is going along with the theme of authenticity. A website with mediocre content and little user interaction may be transparent even (and especially) if its SEO is impeccable. You just can’t hide behind over-optimization anymore. As Google continues to roll out updates to its search algorithm, your website will be much more resilient if its content is valuable and rich than if it’s filled with keyword-optimized, plagiarized information.
6. Social Integration
We’re all becoming connected. Who makes dinner anymore without photographing it and sharing it on Instagram? Can your kid learn to go potty without you broadcasting it to the world? Probably not. That’s why your website needs to integrate social sharing into its design. When people like something, they want to talk about it. Make it easy for them, and you’ll promote customer engagement with your site. If you have a few strategically placed social sharing buttons on your website, every visitor will be able to show their friends the next big thing. Think of social integration as free marketing; it gets your brand in front of the eyes of potential visitors and customers without you doing a thing.
7. Large Photos
With websites inching toward the simpler side of things, multiple images and loads of intricate graphics are going by the wayside. Instead, websites are grabbing visitors’ attention with large, attention-getting images. Think micro shots blown up to use as background images for a huge impact. Large visuals aren’t exactly new; in fact they were pretty standard with Flash-based websites in the past. But with the growing use of HTML5 and CSS3, the same strong-featured types of websites will be optimized for tablets and mobile devices as well. Large visuals help with your company’s visual branding too. They take up all of the real estate on the web page, showing your visitors that you really own what you advertise.
8. The Death of Flash
Flash can be spiffy, but it’s full of delays and has never been available “everywhere.” HTML5 can produce vibrant web design without the added aggravation. When you’re trying to access a website while you simultaneously chat on the phone and keep up a text conversation, you don’t have a lot of time to wait. Mobile and tablet users want their content delivered faster than ever, and loading times and accessibility are equally as important as rich content. There are still areas where Flash will remain, such as Hollywood Movie promotion, but HTML5 will begin to take over as a more reliable platform for the future.
9. jQuery Effects
Websites in 2013 are enhanced via simple jQuery animations. jQuery gives users a chance to hit their visitors with special effects on top of large-impact images. Custom scroll paths allow for dynamic and unexpected movement within a web page. Keep a background image static while the ever-changing content whizzes around on the page in any directions. Websites that let you pan, zoom, and scroll all over the place are just plain cool.
10. Themes for Purchase vs. Custom Designs
No two websites are alike these days, but it’s not necessarily because someone is behind the scenes drawing up the plans for your unique, intricate web design. Web designers can customize just about any template to make it (almost) completely unique. Professional themes are available for affordable prices. Premium themes for purchase often offer comprehensive support and hassle-free modification. In addition, pre-designed themes may be more user-friendly for visitors and easier to maintain for website owners. The web design trends of 2013 indicate that simplicity is key, and creating a website from scratch is simplicity’s nemesis.
11. WordPress Sites: the Plugin Revolution
WordPress has 23,479 plugins, 409,836,445 downloads, and counting. What began as a simple blogging platform, WordPress is now the leading internet content management system. Much the way purchased themes allow for easy integration and maintenance but preserve the option for full customization, WordPress lets website creators get as fancy as they want. In addition, plugins give users the opportunity to extend the capability of the software past the base install. Because WordPress has grown exponentially since its inception in 2003, there’s a ton of support out there for it. It’s almost impossible to go wrong.
12. Data and Analytics
What can data do for you? Simply put, it can help you determine where to spend your money and define those marketing avenues that generate more sales. Digital marketing metrics can still be easily examined through Google Analytics or even a simple spreadsheet. The technology you use isn’t the big deal, it’s the fact that you’re using it. Neglecting to measure your metrics might leave you in the dust. Stay competitive in 2013 by tracking and measuring your data, whether you use big data resources or do it your own way.
13. Think Local
Having a local online presence is huge in 2013. Being visible online can help locals feel like they know you, which makes a big difference when your company pops up amid a bunch of competitors. When people can see the face of the company they might do business with, you appear more professional and compelling. In fact, business information such as your address and hours of operation, reviews, and testimonials are now considered an online requirement.