Remember splash pages? What about background music? Or people walking on the screen? Or when you could peel the corner of your page back?
Okay, so some of those are really old and tell how long I’ve been doing web design. But there’s one thing that never seems to get old…
...Chasing the new shiny thing. We all see those blog posts; The X Design Trends You Need To Know In 20XX”.
Well what happened to image sliders and parallax scrolling?
Designing a site that delights users is challenging enough. Sometimes trends in design and creativity can hinder you from hitting your goals.
The truth is, in many cases, trends are trends because they were likely effective for someone somewhere and others began to copy it.
The problem is that most people copy a trend without knowing the how it helped or the strategy behind it. It was likely solving a problem.
As a designer for print and web I’ve heard this statement many times and chances are you have heard it or (dun dun duun) even said it yourself:
“I was just on (competitor’s site) and they have blank, we should do that”.
This statement is often followed by a huge disappointment in the results a few weeks or months later, typically, by the very same person who made the statement.
It’s not that trends never work, they do, but when they are just the shiny new thing or you only want them because your competitor has it, they can become a huge waste of time and budget.
It would be great if every design trend blog gave examples of the problems they solved and when it's a good idea to use them. Most times they don't.
So here are a few reasons to abandon trends. Hopefully they will be enough to stave the excitement of the next shiny new thing.
- When the trends don’t benefit your users
- When the trends don’t benefit your business goals
- When they cause your site to load more slowly
- When they distract users from content
- When they cause users to leave your site
- When they don’t solve a problem
KEEP THIS IN MIND
Remember that your visitors are on your site looking for content. There’s a 90% chance they did a search in Google and a link to your site popped up as one of the many answers to their search.
If I search for “black bats” I want to leave your site because you are talking about flying rodents and I’m looking for a black baseball bat; not because when I went to your site; grunge rock started playing.
There’s nothing wrong with that music, I’m just not a fan. In short don’t give your visitors reasons to leave no matter how trendy it is. FYI; background music hasn’t been trendy since 1999.
Also keep in mind that you are building your site as a place for your audience, not for yourself. Your own personal preferences should never come before the preferences of your potential visitors.
When you’re making updates or changes to your site, doing a redesign, or even building a site for the first time. Take everything back to strategy. For more on web design take a look at our Step-by-Step Guide to Web Design.
Consider the people who are visiting your site. Will the changes you are making provide a better experience for them? Does this help our company reach it’s goal?
If the answer to both questions is “yes” then it’s likely that you are on the right path. If either answer is “no” then you may want to reconsider your next steps.
BUILD FOR YOUR USERS
As stated earlier people search the web looking for answers, not websites. It just so happens that websites have the answers they are looking for.
If you build your site with a focus of providing visitors with good quality content and a great experience you will likely attract and retain more visitors.
If you know who you are trying to attract then it can be very easy to create and provide the type of content they are looking for.
Studying your users will tell you if video is a more appropriate format, or if they more likely to access your site using a mobile device or smartphone.
The cool thing is that you don’t have to guess about your users. With a little effort you can learn a bunch. For starters, making sure that your site has some tracking installed, we recommend Google Analytics (we recommend it often).
You can also look into using heatmaps or recording site visits to learn about your users behavior when they are on your site. this will provide good insight for your next website redesign.
Again, my point is, if you know your audience then you can build a better website for them and use solid insights to develop a proper strategy to meet your company’s goals.
This will yield much better results than just going with the flow of the latest trends and reduce any frustration you may have around your website’s results and effectiveness.
SO WHAT NEXT?
I urge you to take a hard look at your company’s website. Are you building your site based on the type of customers you want to attract, are you building it based on personal preferences or what your competitors are doing?
If you’re not building it for your ideal customers, then I’d say start there. Put together a plan to build or redesign your site for your ideal customers. Sometimes this can mean starting from the ground up, but it will be well worth the return.
If you need a little help with your online strategy, we’d love to chat with you. We can schedule a free consult to assess your website and build a strategy to refresh it or redesign it. If you need to start by building a good website we can certainly help with that too.
Maybe you need to define your ideal clients and make a list of the types of content they would like to see on your site and the questions they need answered.
At any rate, you need to abandon trends and be effective. It all starts with focusing on the people you are trying to attract and not what you do and don’t like.
Pro tip: Just because you use your company’s product or service does not mean that your customers are “just like you”.
Women buy men’s products for their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, boyfriend etc. And men buy women’s products for the people they care about as well.
You don’t want to alienate a major portion of your customers because you think all of your customers are just like you. You can also learn this by looking through your Google Analytics and existing customer base.
Now let’s go build a site based on your ideal customers and not the latest trends. I promise it will make your website more effective.