Keeping up with today’s ever-changing tastes for new web design can prove to be a challenge. A fresh, innovative site today can quickly turn into the “t-shirt tucked into sweat pants” site of tomorrow.
Fashionable back in the day, but alas, no more.
As a medium-sized or regional business, you may face special challenges in this area as you don’t want to spend the money to haul out a new website every year. To build a long-lasting, effective business website, companies have to avoid getting pulled into fads that simply won’t last.
So what type of web design will give you the best results for the longest period of time?
Making sure your designs are fresh and engaging can feel overwhelming – but by keeping a few key points at the forefront of your mind, you can make it far more manageable. Let’s take a look at a few!
Here today, gone tomorrow – back in 30 years
The first step in keeping up with design is to understand the difference between classics, trends and fads.
- Classic – Timeless. Something that looks relevant, always.
- Trend – Long-term. A good run of an idea or concept that lasts for years, even decades.
- Fad – Short-lived. Gone almost as soon as it arrived.
A good way to illustrate these terms is by talking a bit of fashion with you.
Born seemingly far more right- than left-brained, I’ve always been drawn to the arts, and fashion is a big part of that. I absolutely love to shop for clothes – but without knowing the difference between these three categories, I’m liable to recycle my closet far more often than my wallet will allow.
So, let’s break these definitions down by looking at what’s in my closet and how it relates to the way we design.
I’m a Levi’s® guy. I have always purchased Levi’s and I most likely will until the day I die. I love everything about them – the way they feel, the way they fit and especially how they look. Branded in 1853 by Levi Strauss, Levi’s shaped the face of denim as we know it.
Surprisingly, they have hardly changed their style in the past 164 years. So why are they still fashionable? Because they are what we consider a “classic.”
Levi’s® denim jeans, Ray-Ban® sunglasses, Adidas® trainers, diamonds and pearls in our jewelry – we’ve placed these styles and elements into a “preservation space” in our minds, and they will remain fashionable and relevant for as long as we can foresee.
Just as our minds have locked onto these fashions for good, they have done the same with certain design principles.
A few cornerstone “Levi’s” principles that will always be relevant and applicable for effective business website design:
- Basic serif & san serif fonts
- Good use of negative space
- Relatable images of people
- Geometric shapes
- Minimalist concepts
- Bold colors
That’s just to name a few. We can lean on these elements and principles in any design and count on them to remain relevant, regardless of current trends and fads. When we apply these elements to our design, we know that we are making portions of our design timeless.
As I stated earlier, I’m a Levis® guy. And in 2008, so was every fashionable woman.
“Boyfriend jeans” were all the rage. And I’m not talking about slightly boyish jeans made for women, but actual dude jeans taken from their boyfriends. They made a bit of a splash. Every girl was wearing them. The more ripped up they were, the better. They were worn casually and carefree.
Fast forward to 2017 and you will still see them being worn – however, not so casually. Pair them with tennis shoes? Not on your life! They’re now more commonly worn with stilettos and a vibrant top.
Trends tend to take from the classics, reorganize the elements and spit out a style that we ride out until we are tired of it and want something new. When that time comes, we either rethink the trend and mix it up a bit, or we do away with the trend altogether and move on to something new (as was the case for Girbaud Jeans. I rode the wave. It died. I’m thankful.).
- Comic sans font
- Celestial backgrounds
- Hyperlink everything!!1!1
- Flash Splash pages
- 3D Buttons
- Folder tab navigation
2010 to Present
- Text over images
- Tile cards
- Parallax scrolling
It’s certainly not a bad thing to follow web design trends as they surface, but this is an area you want to keep an eye on as time goes by. Unlike classic elements, trends move in and out of season. You want to make sure that you are aware if a trend has overstayed its welcome so that you can either remix it or ditch it.
The best trends to latch onto are ones that pull from classic elements because the classic elements give them more staying power:
A Few 2017 Design Trends Seen so Far
These trends may not last forever, but many of them are based on classic elements and can be easily modified. Although the classics should be your foundation in any effective business website design, you can use some of these “trendy” elements to accent your website and make it stand out.
Fads start fast and don’t last. They die off almost as quickly as they are born. From the backwards jeans of ‘91 to last year’s wedge sneakers, the world has seen its fair share of fashion fads that make us wish we had a do-over.
But again, these traits can be seen in web design as well.
e see quick blips come in from time to time that – at first glance – seem to be innovative and fresh. Sometimes even quirky and fun. But, like any top 40 radio tune, they get put through the ringer on replay until the online world sees them for what they really are: a short-lived nuisance.
Sometimes these fads show up in the form of zigzag borders, faux effect depths, forked ribbons or embossed letterpress. Other times they show up in areas like hit counters, dancing babies, animation and overused fonts we wish we never heard of.Bleeding Cowboys, anyone?
Especially if you’re a medium-sized or regional company, you want to avoid fads at all costs. They will quickly date your website and cause your business to look unprofessional.
With business web design, you want to avoid fads like these and choose designs that embrace established trends.
Shop Around and Keep it Fresh
Now that you know the difference between Classics, Trends and Fads, you can feel more confident to shop around and fill up your business website design closet. Just remember to keep these design tips in the front of your mind:
Lean on the Classics for the majority of your design:
- Choose basic fonts – they never go out of style
- Make good use of negative space – every design needs to breathe
- Use authentic images of people – people relate to people
- Tastefully implement geometric shapes and bold colors – they go a long way
- Always use a minimalist approach – less is more
Ride the Trends taken from the Classics — They have staying power and are easy to change:
- Sizing of basic fonts
- Text on top of authentic images
- Bold color palettes
- Minimalist designs
Avoid Short-lived Fads — They can change at any minute, causing you to do a complete redesign:
- Parallax scrolling
- Animated load screens
- Complex typography
- Again, dancing babies
Following these simple effective business website design tips should help you create designs that are lasting and easier to update when you start feeling the tide of trends start to shift!
If you need some inspiration for how to use a classic foundation + trendy elements, feel free to check out our design portfolio, and contact us if you have any additional questions.
Great Content.I found it valuable thoughts. Keep posting.
Great article. I hate parallax scrolling on most websites, which is typically visually confusing and not helpful to the visitor. However, the Fire Watch example you linked to has got to be the only implementation of parallax scrolling I’ve seen where it really works – the exception that proves the rule. Jeans analogy is a great way to illustrate the differences between classics, trends and fads. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the share Corey, helpful article definitely.
I want to ask you.
What is your take on local business’, should they really focus on creating something new and innovative or should they keep a simple website?
Hi Filip – thanks for reading the blog and for the kind words. I think there are several words you used in your question that are actually the answer you are looking for: new, innovative & simple. These words don’t have to conflict – they can actually be combined to create a powerful strategy for local (or any) business. Honestly, being a local business places you into the spotlight more than you realize. You may not get as much traffic as a larger business, but you are more than likely getting a lot of repeat visitors and new visitors based off word of mouth – so having a fresh, up to date site is actually very important. But this doesn’t mean that it has to be complex and hard to maintain. Just as I stated in the article, leaning on strong, classic designs will help reduce the need for frequent updates. As far as being innovative – that simply means that you make sure your site is meeting the needs of your user and that you are taking on the necessary development opportunities that keep your site up to speed with (at the very least) the sites of your competitors. If a user can find the same product or service you offer on another site in a faster more efficient manner, then you’ve lost that conversion and possibly the life time value of that consumer. So – I would stress that you 1. keep your site simple and up to date in functionality 2. make sure the design has an appeal that makes it feel current rather than out dated 3. place your users at the forefront of everything to make sure you are serving them with what they are needing and providing in the way that they most expect. I hope that I have answered your question. If there’s anything else I can do for you, just let me know.
Thanks for the in depth answer Corey, it helped a lot!
Followed you on twitter! 🙂