What Well-Dressed Websites are Wearing This Year

When it comes to fashion, hemlines go up and down. Lapels and ties have gone from wide to narrow and back again. Colors which were hot last year are just not this year. The same fickle fashion is obvious in Web design. Design elements such as image size, page length, the position of the navigation menu and the placement and number of the calls to action have all changed over time. Nothing makes your website look older and more out of date than clinging to style conventions that are no longer in fashion.

Technology drives fashion changes

Unlike clothing trends, most of the changes in websites are driven by improvements in technology. When websites started, you had pages with lots and lots of text. That’s because the Internet bandwidth couldn’t support the rich images which are common today. Also, the recent explosion of smart phones, tablets and hybrid laptops with touch screens is definitely influencing the way we think of display size and interactivity.

 So what’s on trend for 2014?

  • Large images are in, carousels are on their way out. – Just like when you finally had to say goodbye to your favorite pair of wide leg jeans, it is time to move the carousel to the back of your Web fashion closet.  As more people move to mobile, the multiple large carousel images take too long to load and really aren’t very functional.  They take up way too much of the display area on mobile devices.  What’s replacing them is just one, beautiful image that sets the look and feel for the whole site.
  • Hemlines are coming down and pages are getting longer. – In the beginning, pages were long because it was easier to add a little more text than to add another page.  Then along came CMS systems and adding a page was as easy as pushing a button.  Then the emphasis was put on the fold, an imaginary line defining the top and “bottom” of a site.   It was the job of the developer to make sure all the most important content appeared on the screen at once so the visitor didn’t have to scroll.

Today, people are just as likely to view your website on a tablet, a laptop or a wide screen. The fold changes with each view. Also, on mobile devices scrolling is much easier than clicking. No one fears the fold anymore and longer, more informative pages are back in style.

  •  One great accessory. – A few years ago Web pages were cluttered with multiple calls to action.  There were so many offers to buy now, read now, fill out this survey, watch a video, etc, etc, etc. This caused visitors to feel overwhelmed and did nothing for the website. The trend for 2014 is a focus on one call to action.  Custom landing pages are becoming the norm as a destination for social media or Google AdWords. Instead of overwhelming visitors, they are presented with one call to action at the end of the page content or on the side of the page.  If visitors complete this action, they have invited you to offer them more.  Just like how a great string of pearls or the perfect pair of red shoes transform a basic dress, so does a good call to action at just the right spot on the page.

Want to know more about how to update your website? Check out our WordPress 201 Workbook.  If you want a quick peek at how much websites have changed, check out what some of your favorite sites looked like a decade ago.