Website design trends for 2016

With the first quarter of the year gone, it’s time to take a look at website design trends that are taking shape. Some are continuations from last year’s trends, while others are relatively new.

Your web design says a lot about your business.

Is your website ready for these design trends?

Long scrolling. The days of having to cram all your information on the screen with no scrolling required are over. Mobile devices have trained everyone to scroll down through pages, so there’s little chance they’ll miss information that’s placed further down the page. This opens up the page for more creative -- and visual -- designs that can really draw the users into your site. This style of design is great for storytelling -- as the reader journeys down the page, they learn more about the story of your Lorain County business.

Card layouts. Websites that have a lot of information in the form of articles or blog posts are often opting for a card layout, which is similar to how Pinterest works. Each article gets its own “card,” with multiple cards being laid out side-by-side on the “table.” This style of layout makes it easier for users to scan the information and find what they’re looking for.

Hero images. These are large, dominating pictures that make up most of the home page. Because of the trend of long scrolling that comes with newer designs, web designers are taking advantage by placing a large, captivating image on the home page that really draws the user in. These captivating photos usually have minimal elements with them -- and sometimes it’s just the photo with maybe an arrow to indicate where a dropdown menu is or that there is more to be found by scrolling.

Responsive design. This isn’t so much a trend as a necessity. Responsive design means your site will adapt to the size of the screen the site is being displayed on. With the number of web visits from smartphones and mobile devices now outnumbering those from desktops, it’s imperative your site plays nice with these devices -- otherwise, you’ll lose business.

Carousels on the decline. Those rotating slideshows known as carousels aren’t as trendy as they used to be. They aren’t SEO friendly, and with the ability to display images in other ways using newer designs, they aren’t being used as much as before. However, for some types of businesses, they still make sense, so don’t expect them to disappear anytime soon.

Parallax continues to increase. Parallax design allows the foreground and background images to scroll at different speeds, creating a visually interesting site. However, text often has to be embedded in the images, meaning it can hurt the SEO of the site. Parallax designs are visually powerful, but have to be used in the right way to be effective.

Less stock images. In an attempt to seem less corporate and more relatable, companies are opting to use less stock photos in favor of personalized photography. So instead of generic images of models pretending to work in some fictional office, companies are using photos of real employees solving problems and working in their real workspaces. This is a great idea, but make sure you use professional photos of your people and your office.

Video. Videos are becoming a standard part of many web designs. Whether it’s a sales pitch from the CEO, a demonstration of the company’s abilities, or an educational piece to show customers your expertise, embedded video in a site can enhance the user experience and help customers connect to your message.

Web design will continue to evolve this year and into the future, but no matter what develops, there’s one thing to always keep in mind: Your site needs to be functional above all else. Don’t get so caught up in bells and whistles of artistic scrolling and captivating photos that your message gets lost or users find it hard to navigate. You want a great-looking site, but you also want one that potential customers understand and can quickly find the information they want.

Matt Beargie is the web developer for Emerge Inc. If you have questions about website design or want your current site evaluated, contact him at mbeargie@emergeinc.com.

Emerge is an Avon Lake (Lorain County)-based provider of web, mobile and content solutions, and serves the communities of Avon, Avon Lake, Lorain, Elyria, Wellington, Grafton, Sheffield, Sheffield Lake and all of the Western Cleveland suburbs.

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