Out With The Old, In With The New: Website Trends for 2018
Posted on June 27, 2019
The art of web-design was born when the first webpage was developed in 1991. However, back then, those websites were quite stale; they were simply composed of multiple links on a white background. In the mid to late 90s, websites started to become much more exciting. During that time, designers started to add features like flash animation and tables in order to provide a better experience for the audience. Nowadays, you should still work on creating a modern design for your website, but there are other important elements, like security and on-demand customer support, that are crucial to its success.
This webinar features Chad Spaude, our Managing Director of Operations. Over the last 4.5 years with Top Floor he has had the privilege of learning the ins and outs of website design and development from some of the most talented web designers and developers you can find.
History of Web-Design
Before we dive into the current Website Design and Development trends and what’s in store for 2018, let’s go back in time and look at some of the past trends that are no longer with us. I’m going to take us back to a time where Dell computers were actually cool and where middle school girls spent 48 to 72 hours a week watching the Titanic. What decade am I talking about? That’s right: the 90’s! Let’s dive into web design in that era.
The first websites in the early 90s were single column text-based pages done in HTML. Websites looked like a series of text documents strung together by inline links. Dynamic elements weren’t even a thought yet. In the mid-’90s, websites started to have more design elements. Different tables made it possible to create multiple column websites, expanding the text-based design model. Visual Hit counters made their first appearance. There was also animated and scrolling text, backgrounds music, popups, and guestbooks. There was also Free builder sites, which allowed anyone to develop their own webpages. Clinton-Gore website from the ’90s is still around. So if you want to relive the old days. Check out this website.
In the late ’90s, the rise of flash was a big thing: flash animation and flash-based navigation. During that time, there were also customizable mouse cursors and a growth in cascading style sheets. Here’s an example of all of this on the Space Jam website. The World’s Worst Website is a great example of a 90’s website. Here, you’ll see scrolling text, background images, and all the things we just talked about.
Now let’s talk about the 2000s. This was where:
- Cascading Style Sheets (or CSS) allowed designers to separate content from design elements.
- Navigation bars began moving to the top of the page
- Dropdown menus became popular and forms started to make an appearance
- Forms, which allowed for customer feedback, became prominent during this time
- User created content comes onto the scene allowing users to create and customize online profiles, journals and photo collections.
Now that we’ve talked about the history of web-design, let’s talk about the important trends for 2018.
Security (specifically, SSL and HTTPS web security). The “S” in HTTPS stands for “Secure”. It’s the secure version of the standard “hypertext transfer protocol” your web browser uses when communicating with websites. When you send sensitive information over an HTTPS connection, no one can eavesdrop on it in transit. HTTPS is what makes secure online banking and shopping possible. It also provides additional privacy for normal web browsing, too. For example, Google’s search engine now defaults to HTTPS connections. This means that people can’t see what you’re searching for on Google.com. The same goes for Wikipedia and other sites. Previously, anyone on the same Wi-Fi network would be able to see your searches, as would your Internet service provider.
Secure websites are important because Google is ranking those websites higher than unsecured websites. Google even gives users warnings if the website isn’t secure. Therefore, an unsecured website can really damage your organic search in the long-run. Making your site secure is not an overly complicated process; you just need an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate is a certificate installed in your website that allows you to transfer data over the HTTPS versus the unsecured version. From there, all internal links need to be uploaded to the new security protocol. In order to do this, you’d have to set up a sitewide rewrite of the unsecured version to the HTTPS version. Lastly, do some testing to make sure that the site is secure.
As soon as someone arrives on your website, they will get an “opt-in” dialogue box. Then the visitor clicks “allow”, causing that visitor to be added to your company subscriber list. Once the visitor becomes a subscriber, you can send them to push notifications from your website to the visitor’s phone
Nowadays, push notifications have become extremely important because they allow you to reach a larger amount of consumers. For example, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox have a combined market share of 61%-77%. Therefore, with all these browsers supporting push notification, you’ll have more reach. You will have more access to users who aren’t even on your website! For instance, a user can go to your website, leave it, but you can still send them notifications on deals they might be interested in your company. Push notifications also have lower unsubscribe and opt-out rates. Studies show that less than 10% of subscribers who opt-in for notifications from a site unsubscribe within that same year. Research also shows push notifications have 20-30 times higher conversion rates than direct mail and emails
It’s important to not overdo the push notifications because it can annoy the subscribers. In today’s on-the-go consumers, you want to make sure that the message on the notification is clear. Use notifications to remind users when flash sales are ending. When developing push notifications, it is important to take into account time zones and the user’s schedule. Also, when sending push notifications, make sure you are segmenting the market. Do not send every notification to everyone because your message may not apply to them. Push notifications are a growing trend, so make sure you consider this as you build your website
Site and Page Speed. Google announced that site speed is a big factor they use to rank websites. Therefore, it is important that your website is not lagging. Speed is one of the things that the SEO team at Top Floor helps several companies improve on. Also, users who go on your website may feel frustrated if your website is not loading quick enough, causing them to leave and check out your competitor’s website instead.
- Tools to test your site speed and improve it:
- Enable compression
- Reduce redirects
- Leverage browser caching
- Use a content distribution network
- Optimize images
- PageSpeed Insights by Google
Mobile First Design. Mobile traffic is growing over the desktop. 69% of consumers worldwide between the ages of 18 and 39 use mobile devices to research products before they buy. 44% use tablets. Therefore, with this trend, you want to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. It may not be possible for a mobile-friendly version to mirror the exact function of the desktop version. The goal of mobile-friendly is to meet the majority of users needs. For example, the desktop version of a website might have bigger images than the mobile version.
Currently, there is a nuanced way of developing a successful mobile design called the Mobile First Approach. This is the idea that mobile design should be completed first. The benefit of this approach is that once the mobile design is completed first, then designing for other devices will be easier. Another benefit of the Mobile First approach is that it allows you to focus on the important parts of your website. If your curious to see a mobile-first plan in action, check out Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and Etsy websites.
Unique Layouts, Imagery, and Video
- Bespoke Illustrations
- Authentic Imagery
- Video Takes Over
- Unique Scrolling And Parallax
- Beautiful Typography
- Courageous Colors
- Asymmetric Layouts
- See how Top Floor helped one of our clients, JF Ahern, improve their layout for their website
“On Demand” Customer Support. Nowadays, users want to get their questions answered instantly. That is why more companies are integrating Chat functionality, Q&A forums, and customer reviews on their websites. According to a report from Zendex, 92% of customers feel satisfied when they use live chat feature compared to other options like voice (88%), email (85%), and even social media messaging (Facebook = 84%, Twitter is 77%). This trend doesn’t seem to be going away; therefore it is an important function you should consider implementing to your website.
Career Sections to Find the Right Talent. In the past, the career section has been more of an after-thought. Nowadays, finding the right talent is a difficult task for many businesses. Now, the career section requires:
- Compelling Headlines
- Easy-to-Find Job Descriptions
- Clear Calls-to-Action
- Videos of employee testimonials
- Company Mission and Values
- Top Reasons to Work for You
- Perks and FAQ for Important Info
- Microsites/Pages for Locations and Departments
- University and Student Section for internships
That concludes our list for the current web-design and web-development trends for 2018. Although we did not touch on every single trend, we did talk about the most significant trends that can help to elevate your business.