This article has been contributed by Heral Patel.
Over the year 2015, we have seen so many amazing creations being carried out day to day. Since change is constant in web world, it is almost impossible to predict the future. It is however possible to study the prevailing trends and envisage the potential changes that are prone to be developed in the coming days.
While providing your visitors with a seamless digital experience is imperative to your growth and involves a fair amount of brainstorming, you cannot deny the fact that web design has its share of mundanity just like any other profession. Yet, if you know where to look, there are trends and patterns worth noting to create magnificent websites.
Last year, for example, we saw how designers used grid layouts, background videos, and flat design to create some stunning websites. Similarly, there are several trends, techniques and technologies that have defined 2015.
In this post, we look beyond responsive design, which is already an industry standard. The following are four B2B website design trends ruled in 2015.
1. Content Driven Design
Once upon a time web designers used to design the website first and the content was “fit” into it later. For B2C industry, it is already a history and it’s time B2B embrace the trend as well. Here’s how this ‘now-dead’ practice went:
- The designer defined the website’s information architecture and navigation
- Create layouts for different design templates, representing the various standard page types such as Home, About, Products & Services, Blogs, Contact Us, and so on.
- The writers created the copy
- Visual assets were defined
- Finally, content (including text, images and videos) were ‘fit’ into template
As any web designer will say, it was indeed a ‘formulaic exercise’.
But today, the design process of B2B websites have become more iteratively. Dynamic designs are being used to test ideas and design decisions are more “content-centric.” So instead of creating a design layout and fitting the content into it, designers are now creating layouts that are in sync with the content, making website truly content driven.
This “Design Thinking” approach further promotes the idea of innovation within B2B businesses and can be applied to product, service and also website designs. Since it is a more collaborative approach, designers are now treating web designing as a means instead of an end.
This fluid approach will continue to rule the B2B market this year and beyond. This human-centered approach will be geared towards product generation and problem solving driven by customer empathy, iterative learning and creativity. The focus, of course, will be on relevant content and it will become more crucial than preciousness of design.
This, in turn, will require designers to become more engaged in the strategic marketing issues of their clients.
2. Design “Tiles” will Rule the Marketplace
Design “tiles” are nothing but some modular rectangular buckets of content also referred to as “cards.” They are becoming key components of modern web design and are fast gaining popularity in every industry. For example, the Website of Harvard University is based on tile designs. They are effective and are here to stay for quite some time now.
There are basically two main reasons behind the popularity of tile designs:
- Firstly, the responsive design, which has become the defacto standard for creating websites. As you probably know, responsive design allows a website to reconfigure itself seamlessly for mobile devices, stacking its content automatically to enable easy and effortless scrolling. Now tiles are comprised of bite-sized chunks of content that are very easy to read in mobile screens.
- Secondly, tiles are flexible. You can easily remove and replace content and move tiles effortlessly to place them in more advantageous locations within a tiled web design.
Since mobility and flexibility aren’t going away any time soon, designers will continue leveraging tile designs.
3. Sticky Menus will Facilitate Endless Scrolling
Long scrolling page is another popular trend for this year as mobility continue to dictate the functionality and aesthetic in web designing. However, it often frustrates B2B website visitors especially if they are clueless about how they can go back to the main menu, without clicking the “back” button.
This is where you need “sticky menus,” where the menu bar remains fixed at the top instead of scrolling up/out of view as you start the long scroll. The menu remains right there even if you reach the bottom of a long scrolling page.
The best part about sticky menus is that they are easy to create apart from making long scrolling sites more user-friendly.
4. The “Rebirth” of Art Direction
Online users have limited attention span. We don’t read much rather scan through a post unless something grabs out attention. Designers are coming in terms with this alarmingly increasing trend and have come up with another design trend in response.
They are using huge, panoramic images and attractive visual icons along with scannable snippets of text to grab visitors’ attention. Those who want to “Read More” can click the copious links to access the deeper content.
Images have always played key role in web designing but in this new realm, they are taking up even more important place. Curating visual brands has therefore become a vital skill for good designers. This also means rendering of stock photos is likely to become an obsolete practice in the near future.
It would take unique visual libraries with specific images, infographics and icons to elevate and differentiate brands from the ever-present visual noise. B2B companies too need to invest more in creating unique images for their business websites. They need to give their designers the freedom of working with real artists and photographers and take steps towards developing more strategic visual brands. Instead of using lots of text, B2B websites need to engage visitors through compelling visuals. This calls for a paradigm shift in the B2B world as the industry is largely depended on royalty-free photography when it comes to creating their visual brand identity.
These B2B web design trends, along with few others, are enhancing at a speed. The future of these trends, however, remains a matter of debate and discussions. But based on what we see and the developments in this sector, it is more than likely that these trends are here to stay for now. User-experience remains central to these trends and if you haven’t already implemented them it is high time to do so to stay ahead of the curve.
Heral Patel is the founder AnnexCore and iWebbie – An Orange County Web Design Company, which offers all-inclusive website packages for small businesses. iWebbie’s unique approach allows them to provide agency like services to small businesses at a fraction of the cost.