Keeping a Close Eye on Trends

Trends dominate the design sphere but staying up to speed with the latest design trends means all the difference between an “okay” website and one that makes users avoid clicking through to another tab to give you their undivided attention.

It can be a slippery slope to decide to go down though. You don’t want to adopt a hyped-up design trend that’s short-lived as the brand will go from lovesome to pretty lame in a matter of weeks. It’s a vital role of a designer to keep a close eye on ideas, concepts and emerging trends as they continue to evolve in order to deliver a killer solution paired with an amazing user experience.

You don’t want a designer who applies every trend that comes in every year, repeating the loop and avoiding innovation. You’ll end up with the mediocre. The “that’ll do” solution. Or “style over substance” as GBBO’s very own Mary Berry would say.

Many trends take off like wildfire but tend to be for the moment. So you’ve garnered a heap of likes on Instagram and engagements on Twitter but the website you’ve created isn’t really that future-proof. Oops. If you look inward to your own industry and similar websites, you’ll find a lot of sites that look alike. Borrowing from each other and almost becoming blind to the world of possibilities outside. It’s how these trends come around - mimicking other designs too closely that they all look like carbon copies of each other.

So where are these visual trends? Online of course. There’s over-accessorised websites with so many focal points taking up more and more real estate that the CTAs aren’t standing loud and proud anymore. Typography is another big one. Large bold typefaces in a header soak up space and can read aggressively, like a text message in all caps from your enraged Mum. Remember the balance - a font should grab attention and be a clean, clear delivery of information but not overwhelming.

One of the design trends that’s glaring right at us is the hamburger menu. Yes there’s been an upswing of accessing websites through mobile devices that the little hamburger menu is the heroic icon that hides all menu navigation to reduce clutter. But it’s crept into desktop versions of websites, and seems used as a misplaced desire for minimalism, especially when there’s probably enough space to showcase a navbar. Why force users to click an icon just to open your menu? What’s more it’s bad for our tiny attention spans. Think how detrimental it might be for businesses that depend on user exposure to their goods when it’s tucked away from view.

Front-page carousels are also making a big splash. They add visual interest but they adversely affect SEO and most sliders contain headers with text that many don’t note the content shown when it’s quickly shifted to another image. Parallax scrolling is another example that allows the website’s foreground and background content to scroll at various speeds to create depth. Looks pretty cool, but again it’s SEO’s foe and creates a bit of a headache for users. Load times can vary depending on what device you’re on so it’s not the most consistent.

At Hypergram, our bread and butter is creating custom websites and web applications that offer rich and unique user experiences. We monitor trends but we don’t want to become the sheep that follow what everyone else seems to be doing. We give more weight to flawless functionality and user experiences rather than flash-in-the-pan trendiness. The core elements of usability, brand values and navigation are regarded first and foremost in the face of new trends.

Sure, there's some highly appropriate applications for trends, but we need to think hard before deciding to adopt them. Good trends will tend to stick strong, but the passing fancies will soon fade. Aim to create an element of creativity and uniqueness. Even tiny interactions can create memorable experiences or simply incorporating great function into a website can reap the rewards. It doesn’t need to be gigantic in-your-face aesthetics.

Industry shifts means these trend tides come in. So, be mindful of what you incorporate into your website and avoid those ill-thought trends that have the potential of becoming outdated soon. Well, we wouldn’t wear acid-washed jeans in 2017 would we?

Charlotte Allen