2014 Web Design Trends: Keepers & Dumpers

At the start of the year there were the usual spate of articles from web pundits outlining what they believed would be the major web design trends this year. As we are now well into the second half of the year I thought I’d look at some of those suggestions and pass down a bit of judgement on them.

1. Hero Areas [or in some cases, whole pages]

The Hero is, in this case, the ‘intro’ area at the top of a website home page, comprised often of a large image [sometimes as a background] with little text or other content above the fold. These are rapidly replacing the previously ubiquitous slider as the initial tool for a call to action (CTA).

The professed argument in their favour is anchored on two main points: Firstly, sliders tend to increased load time for pages due to the multiple images involved along with the extra embedded code and called external scripts required to run the slider. And secondly, that sliders are ultimately not very successful in audience engagement.

There is no doubt that badly configured sliders can cause slow page loads, but I have also come across Hero areas using large image files that are equally badly configured [and therefore also slow to load].

As to poor audience engagement, I would like to see hard evidence that the slider is the problem rather than poor slider content, much of what I have read could easily be viewed as excuse making for websites that haven’t been achieving the client’s requirements [goals].

However, my real issue with this trend is that it many cases it seems to be encouraging designers/clients to do away with content heavy front pages. In fact, often what is left is an old style splash page and with that, all the relevant SEO issues. Not a problem where the brand is already well known or in situations where a marketing budget is available to push the brand, not so good where SERPS ( search engine result pages ) position is all important.

Verdict: For the budget constrained organisation, if you are thinking of a site redesign then it might well be an option worth considering – as long as you keep respecting the need for good quality content on the pages.

Hero Areas and other web trends
The Ultimate in Hero Pages?

2. Paying Attention to Mobile Users

This is an obvious one, you cannot get away with ignoring mobile users any more. How your website is presented on phone and tablet screens is only going to become increasingly important. There can be many factors involved in how you address this and one size certainly does not fit all, but address it you eventually must.

Verdict: Here to stay.

3. Long, Scrolling Pages/Sites without a Sidebar.

The long page has been back with us for a year or two now so visitors should be quite used to them. Apart from basic style reasons they also make delivery of responsive sites to mobile users easier. If you can get rid of the classic sidebar also then producing a unified design for all users becomes much simpler to deliver [and therefore cheaper to build].

Verdict: If it suits your content and budget then definitely worth investigating.

 4. Simplifying Content

The blame [ and I use that term deliberately ] for this can be firmly laid at the door of social media. Just because most have got used to the extreme short form delivery of Twitter, Facebook etc does not excuse turning your website into a facsimile of those platforms. Believe it or not but people do still want to read articles that are longer than a couple of hundred characters. In fact, long form is making a comeback so if you tempted to eviscerate your content, think twice… and the don’t!

Verdict: Hands off!