Website Trends Heading Into 2016

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Good morning internet fans, Ryan Perry’s Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, therefore it is Internet Marketing Thursday. It is the 19th of November, it seems like Christmas is right around the corner now. I have with me, as usual, Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center. Good morning, Virginie.

Virginie Dorn: Good morning, Ryan. How are you?

RP: I’m doing good, it’s another beautiful sunny day in Northern California so I cannot complain. And I get to talk to you, and it seems like it was just 12 months ago that we talked about the design trends of 2015, and today we get to talk about 2016 web design trends.

VD: Yes, that’s correct. That’s the time of the year when my team and I, we like to just reflect on what happened this year and what seems to be really in the discussion board for us, so what people are asking us to do for them. And to leave our four trends and then keep coming back, and they are pushing strong and we see no reason why 2016 is going to take them to the next level. So we’re just going to focus on four trends, which I think are the most popular ones at this moment, finishing 2015 and going on to 2016.

RP: Okay, let’s just go ahead and start on the list then and knock these out.

VD: Yes. So some of them… And you may have heard about them or maybe it’s a new concept to you. The first one, which is a catch-22, is less text, more images, more videos. We’ve talked about it for a couple of years now. And it is a catch-22 because when it comes to organic SEO, you do want actual content because this is what Google and Yahoo crave, they want that text. But the trend has been that, on home pages especially, to really have less text, less developed sentences, more succinct call to action, illustrated with larger and nicer images and even videos where people… Some pages nowadays are just one mega video where people click on it, play it, and they get to understand what the business is about. And of course there are all these pages.

RP: Right. And it’s always interesting when we go through these interesting transitions where the consumer wants one thing but, from an SEO point of view, we want to do the other. There are workarounds to that, and I think one of the key things is that typically, yes, you want your home page to rank. But if you’re offering three or four services, you really want that service page to rank, not necessarily your home page. So I think if you give up a little SEO value on the home page, and drive a user experience that creates interest and does its job, which is conversion, maybe a phone call, sell a product, create an email, whatever it is, then you’re doing the right thing because you’re designing and you’re building things for the end user. And I always tell people when it comes to SEO, SEO is not absolute. We always talk about the end user first, and then it’s a matter of, “Okay, how do we incorporate SEO values into it?”

VD: Yes, indeed. So all the well-developed content in terms of text should be left for sub-pages. If you do need it in your home page, try to put it towards the bottom of the page and have the illustration at the top with the quick call to actions for your visitors. And then at the bottom of the page being targeting the search engines. But again, less text, more images and even high resolution images. Nowadays, everybody has high speed Internet access. On top of that, modern browsers including Edge from Microsoft are much quicker in rendering images. And finally Ryan, new coding techniques to enable you to put on your webpage really large, beautiful images that convey a very message, better than a text would.

RP: Right. And a lot… One of the things I like to do is with that big image is support that large image with some sort of text on it. Maybe an overlay, even if it’s embedded into the text… Or the text is embedded into the image, which I know is an SEO faux pas. But it’s really about conveying the message. And I think if you can convey the message properly, then you’re really doing your job. Large images… Well I think we’re going to talk a little bit more about custom mobile sites because then we’d get into issues… Well, if I have a big… Just a video playing, how does that affect the down… Why am I losing my words? Being able to download that video on a mobile. If you’re working off your cell tower, am I going to be able to download that quick enough to where people just pop out because it’s taking too long to download. So I think you’re going to go into that a little bit later.

VD: So that takes us to the second part actually. It’s all tied in together, which is dynamic storytelling. It’s a blog you and I have covered, I think it was last week. It’s telling a story through the use of graphic and very quick text, and guiding your visitor for a sort of thought process. It could be highlighting the benefits, the before and after of using you maybe telling the story of your non-profit organization, when you started, why you do what you do. What’s the passion behind the business of the organization? So it’s called dynamic storytelling. It can be either automated, where the visitor just watch and things are happening on its own, and it also can be when the visitor, by either clicking or scrolling, walks himself through the storytelling. This is a really fast moving trends, it requires really high graphic skills and a good marketer behind it because if you don’t do it well, it looks very cheesy and cheap. But if you do it well, it can be quite powerful.

RP: Yeah, and I think that the key thing for this is a lot of people just go, “Oh I want a website, go build it.” If you’re going to do storytelling, you really need to do the late work upfront, storyboarding, what the website’s going to be, what that message is, and I think the very first website that I can remember seeing that was story… That had that story dynamic to it, I guess, was Apple, with one of their… Was one of their laptops with a retina display. And when you went on the page, it was just this really big picture, I think it was two people hiking with this huge waterfall coming down. And it was just a picture, and that’s all you saw in the page with menu and that type of stuff, but as you scroll down, instead of the page scrolling down, it actually started zooming in and what you’re looking at was a picture on the computer screen itself. And then it actually… Once the computer screen came into size and it had it’s story there, then you scroll down. And Apple’s really good at balancing back and forth, highlighting benefit features in a very short, succinct, graphical, short text way.

VD: Indeed they are. They are trendsetters in many ways. When it comes to marketing, nobody’s better than Apple, as you know. I mean, they sell computers, overpriced computers if you ask me, but they are very successful. They’re the highest profitable computer company out there, so they must be doing something right.

RP: Yeah, definitely.

VD: So we talked about less text, more images. Then we talked about dynamic storytelling, and it takes us to the third trend for 2016, which is flat design. Flat design, also known as Material Design, so that’s how Google calls it, but most people, and actually designers, we call it flat design. It’s… How can I explain? For many years, we all used shadows and pretty textures and rounded corners and things that were visually appealing on website design. The new trend is actually to strip it down to the basic, and that means no more shadows, no more rounded corner, sharp edges, solid colors, lots of white behind those colors, block elements that are defined maybe by a very thin border, less text again. Just think art decor, disco, where there was bright orange and yellow and purple colors, and that’s flat design. Again, it’s much more streamlined, it’s easier to read. Even though it might look shocking at first because there are less elements to look at, just solid colors, it’s easier for the users to read text and view images in that way.

RP: Right. And I think the other benefit to that one, ‘old is new’ again, but the fact that the brain can only handle so much information at once. And we talked about this a couple of weeks, and it was probably when we were talking about flat design, was the fact that, as developers, you got all these new, fancy tools, and you could do this and you could do this, and you could really make beautiful and very intricate websites that were very interactive. But in doing so, people started realizing that we really lost the message of that story. What is it that the website’s trying to convey? How are we trying to guide people? And instead we just overwhelm them with all this information. And most times when people get overwhelmed with information, the brain just shuts down because it cannot process it or doesn’t want to process it. Therefore they just back up and go back to the web search and will go to the next website. And so I’m assuming that’s kinda where this trend came from; stripping things back, simplifying it and just making it really easy to convey the information that you need to convey on your website.

VD: Yes. And it’s very scary, though, for site owners. I, myself, do not have flat design on my website. It’s scary to take that step and trust that this is what users want and what works better for them. And some industry are very reluctant, they say, “Oh, we’re more visual.” And wineries, “Oh, we want to show our grapes and all the pretty things.” And you can still do that, but tone down everything else. So we see reluctance from the site owners but we see demand from the internet users. So again, this is a growing trend and we just see it growing even faster in 2016.

RP: Yeah. You know what would be interesting is seeing if we could find some research, like A/B testing type of research on that.

VD: Yes, that would be really interesting. If you find some, please forward it to me. But nonetheless, this is a trend that is going to continue to grow. So it brings us to our fourth point. Again, the four biggest trends in web design for 2016. The last one, we’ve already addressed it not so long ago, is more customization in mobile device layout. We’re all aware what responsive design is, it’s been around for a few years now. It’s the ability for your websites to adjust itself to smartphone or tablet. So that type of coding is there, everybody does it, every website should be responsive, there’s no reason why it should not, but now we’re taking it a step further. It started this year, it’s going to continue to be more popular next year, is when you actually sit down and really stop for a second and think about which elements of your desktop version should be eliminated or hidden on a smartphone, which fonts should be moved around, which fonts should be resized, which fonts should be adjusted. And that does not only apply to text, when you can reduce text on a mobile device layout, but it also applies to slide shows and images and buttons, all that types. So it’s all back to streaming down to a more basic layout and design for smartphones and tablets.

RP: Yeah. And it’s funny ’cause I just talked to my graphic designer yesterday. We’re doing new social media banner images, and so one of them that I’m having her do is for my YouTube channel and the problem with YouTube is that they give you a dimension, “We want your image to be this size.” The problem is, with YouTube, because of smart TV’s, you can play YouTube videos on a 75″ TV and then you’ve got your desktop user who’s on a 20″ or 22″ monitor, and then you’ve got your tablet on eight to nine inches, and of course your cellphone, you’re down to four and a half to five and a half inches and it’s a single image.

VD: Yes.

RP: And the actual usable space, even though they tell you, “You have this much space to use,” your actually usable space is this because it’s one image and the reality is today, with so many different devices, people are using their big screen TVs and browsing the internet. You have to make sure that your message fits the intended target. I like to use the postcard and a billboard. You’re not going to use the same message on a postcard as you are a billboard because people are going to look at it differently, and therefore, that message needs to be unique. So I love the fact that we can take a responsive website and strip it down so that the message fits the device that the person is looking at. You really need to strip all those bells and whistles off the big screen when you bring it into a mobile device ’cause a lot of times people are on the move. Just give them the information that they need so they can do what they need to do.

VD: Absolutely true. And you were bringing up earlier the concern, of the high resolution images, having a hard time displaying on the mobile devices. Now, with new cutting technique, we can select a different size images so you could upload the different rendering of the same photo, but at different resolution and tell the code that if it’s a full desktop, if it’s an Apple TV, if it’s a smartphone, if it’s a tablet, “Pick that image, pick that one. Pick this one.” And truly we could even select even completely different images. In our team, we typically do different resolutions of that image. It’s the same photos, but just reduced in size, so that helps when it’s on smartphone. The card knows, “Oh, let’s pick up the small image there. The smaller version of it,” and that helps with download issues.

RP: Alright, and that just goes to play, as things become more technical, it’s really important, if you’re looking at the finding a new web designer, is that you really need to know somebody that’s keeping up on the latest and greatest trends because the technology is moving so fast that a lot of these people that say they do everything, there’s just too much going on between social media, SEO. Just today, I had a hard time getting on… Getting this Hangout started because Google has changed everything on their Google Plus account, which is causing me gray hairs, I don’t need it. It is what it is and actually, unfortunately, our time is up. I was going to have you do a recap, but we’re out of time. But a lot of great information on what to look forward to, as far as web trends into 2016. Do you have any last second thoughts?

VD: Yes, less is more for 2016 website design.

RP: Alright, perfect. I love it! That’s it for today’s show. Virginie, as always, I appreciate the time and the energy that you put in and all the wealth of information that you’re providing the users. Next week is Thanksgiving. I’m going to be eating turkey, I’m assuming you’re going to be eating turkey, so we won’t be here. But the following week we will, correct?

VD: Correct, and I’ll be eating ham.

RP: You’ll be eating ham, perfect. Very well, I’ll see you in two weeks. Have a great Thanksgiving. Thank you.

VD: Bye bye.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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