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.

The Classics

Source: Levi

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:

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.

Trends

Source: Levi

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.).

Mid-to-Late ’90s

Early 2000s

2010 to Present

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:

Made with Canva

A Few 2017 Design Trends Seen so Far

Whereas last year was all about the black & white, minimalist approach, 2017 tweaks the trend by keeping the minimalism and adding some flare to the color palette.

Google Fonts are being implemented by just about every site now. Not only are they universal, but almost every one of their 821 fonts is free.

This is not a new trend, it’s just that people are taking it a step further: larger fonts paired with content summarized into bold statements are helping to keep attention spans that are currently at an all-time low.

If you know any photographers or have one on staff, redirect your stock footage budget their direction and have them capture some authentic footage you can use for the next year. Stock images are out.

Companies are starting to incorporate a bit of fun back into design by adding hand-drawn illustrations. Not only do they provide a nice, human element, but they help make products more accessible.

Vibrant duoimages and gradients are making some noise. You may have already noticed more two-toned images and bright color sliders added into designs by Spotify & Instagram. Expect more.

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

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.

We 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

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.