It’s January, and that means a whole lot of looking ahead at trends for the future stories in all industries and disciplines. We started thinking about what might happen this year in the web design industry, because it’s easier than predicting politics. We decided to share some insights from our Interactive Director, Stacey Vincent. She’s seen all the trends and changes in this little thing we call the World Wide Web, so here are some of her thoughts about web design past, present and future.
How did you get into web development?
My very first job out of college was for a small firm in the New Orleans area. My boss recognized that web design was just starting to take off and encouraged us to expand our repertoire beyond traditional print design. We literally bought a book on web design and coding and sat around my colleague's desk and taught ourselves how to code. Before that, the only experience I had with web design was in taking the ONE web course that my college offered. Needless to say, only the basics were learned. I'm forever grateful to my boss for his awareness of this burgeoning industry and his willingness to let us learn on the job.
What are some of the trends you’ve seen come and go over the years?
Oh, there are so many... small font sizes, fixed widths, image-based emails, tag clouds, Flash...I could go on and on. The thing about this industry is that it's always evolving, growing and changing.
How do you decide when it’s time to update a website?
Ideally, we like to update websites every 2-3 years to ensure that designs stay fresh and current. However, budgets don't always allow for a complete redesign. As they say, content is king, so keeping your site up-to-date is extremely important and can help keep your site relevant, even if the design and technology aren’t cutting edge.
What is the most critical part of the user experience? Why is it so important?
Ease of navigation. If a user can't easily navigate a site, they often get frustrated and leave the site entirely. Organizing your content into a few easy-to-understand categories, and then creating simple, clean visual navigation helps to ensure that your users will feel comfortable moving through your site.
What web-based tool do you find is most-valued by clients?
Google Analytics has really helped our clients educate themselves about their audience and their site usage overall. Getting this behind-the-scenes look into your website traffic really helps to guide your decision-making about site content as well as product and service offerings. It's invaluable information that helps you make the most of your online presence.
Tell me something exciting your team launched recently.
We recently launched a new corporate site. Their goal was to have an innovative website that reflected their industry-leading, rise-to-the-challenge mindset. The site features bold color, interesting angles, team member bios and videos that all work together to tell their story. They were a really great group to work with, and I'm very proud of the site we created.
What is one trend you wish would go away this year?
Well, once and for all, I'd love to see the notion of "above the fold," as it pertains to web design, go away this year. My hope is that we're moving away from the days where folks just land on a page and don't interact with it. The design and content should be appealing enough to draw users in so that with the swipe of a finger, they'll consume all that the page has to offer. In today's responsive, highly-adaptable online experiences, "the fold" should be becoming more and more irrelevant.
What trends do you think will be big in 2017?
It's funny, I'm actually not a fan of "web trend predictions." They tend to give designers a checklist of what to do this year and can end up limiting a designer's own vision. I believe in letting designers and developers do what they do best: reach, experiment, solve problems, play and work hard to create useful, relevant and enjoyable online experiences—by whatever means they dream up.
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