As most in the design and marketing world know, every year brings along a new set of web design and user experience trends. Some are brand new, some innovative and some longstanding – some seem purely aesthetic, and some are interactive. From a business perspective, it’s important to understand what’s behind these visual trends in order to leverage them to have a positive effect on your online conversion rate. Let’s break down some of 2016’s most buzzed about design trends:

1     Personalize User Experiences

It’s no surprise that user experience plays a big role in conversions on any website. Think of it as the customer experience of the online world. You want your user experience to greet your customers and welcome them to your website. You then want it to help them find what they’re looking for and show them how beautiful and useful your product, service or information is to them. Finally, if the user is ready to convert, you want your UX to make it a breeze for them; if they aren’t quite there yet, you want it to subtly entice them to stick around or come back later.

One way of personalizing your user experience is through the use of split-screen layouts. The idea is to let your audience tell you either who they are or what they’re looking for in an initial interaction. Now that you’ve gained a little more knowledge about this user, you can present them with the content, calls-to-action and navigational structure that is most relevant to them.

Users convert more when they have fewer options to weed through, and by presenting them with a personalized path you increase the likelihood that they’ll quickly find something that appeals to them.

 

An example of how a split-screen layout might find out more about a user:

A split-screen homepage of a coffee shop website with two entry buttons, one for Wholesalers and one for the retail store

 

2     Create Video with Purpose

You’re sure to have noticed an increase in video on the web over the last year. On the surface-level, videos are attention-grabbing and likely to increase the time that a user might spend on your website. When used effectively, large-scale videos and images can tell the story of a brand or product, keeping users engaged as they scroll or click through. These visually appealing stories can be used to draw the user’s attention to micro-conversion points and ultimately to more consequential conversions.

On a deeper level, creating original media content for your website has the power to instill trust in your users. When you move away from stock videos and photos and present an original story, your brand becomes authentic. Authenticity is a key factor to a trustworthy brand image, and trustworthiness plays a key role in a user’s decision to make a purchase or give out information.

3     Make Use of User Interface Patterns

It doesn’t take an expert to spot many of the patterns that exist within current UI design: hamburger menus, hero images and long-scroll pages are all examples of the perpetuation of user-centric patterns. Iconography, responsive design and theme development for content management systems have all contributed to these widely-used and recognizable design patterns.

One of the most praised patterns as we entered 2016 was the card layout. The card layout – which looks exactly like it sounds – presents content in a series of small boxes containing images, icons, titles, excerpts or a combination of content. The layout has been dubbed perfect for scanning, enabling users to find content that peaks their interest without delay. It’s easy to see how this layout can be valuable to the conversion rate of a site with a lot of content such as a magazine, news or large e-commerce site.

While your instinct might tell you to shy away from these patterns in pursuit of originality, you should be doing everything you can to take advantage of them. Making use of recognizable patterns helps your audience to find what they’re looking for in the spot where they’re most likely to go looking for it, contributing to a seamless journey through your website. These patterns are especially useful in e-commerce settings – for example, the user will always look to the top-right corner of the screen to find their cart. Their customer journey will instantly be made more difficult if they have to look anywhere else for it.

 

A card layout in use on the Mashable website:

An example of a card layout being used on mashable.com

 

4     Design Thoughtful Colour Schemes

With the flat design trend ever-present and the popularity of Google’s Material Design principles (released last year), the trend of vibrant colours in web design is here to stay.

This insightful infographic points out that it takes only 90 seconds for someone to make a subconscious assessment of a product, and that 90% of the of these assessments are based on colour.

A conversion-driven design should use contrast and bright colours to create CTAs that stand out, and consider colour psychology when developing the colour scheme of a website or landing page.

Final Notes

Often, design trends are proliferated for reasons beyond their visual appeal. While visuals are extremely important to conversions, so is understanding UX based trends. Focus on the goals of your business and website, and work the appropriate trends into your design strategy to help you achieve them. An appropriate combination of form and function in your web presence will undoubtedly help you to increase user engagement, conversions and satisfaction.

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Zoë St-Aubin

Zoë St-Aubin

Zoë is a Web Designer at seoplus+. After graduating from the University of Ottawa with a Specialization in Communication (BA), she pursued a Postgraduate Certificate in Interactive Media at Algonquin College and began working in the creative world.