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Change is constant – this is true across all industries including web design. With user experience, SEO-friendliness, and site speed more important than ever, seasoned web designers have been on the lookout for techniques that’ll enable them to create sites that hit the mark…and that’s how the following 5 web design trends came to be.

Flat Design – Keeping It Simple

Flat design is the exact opposite of rich design. While the latter uses drop shadows, gradients, bevels, and other design elements that have a three-dimensional feel to them, flat design is devoid of such stylistic features.

The end result: A future-proof design that’s efficient and fluff-free. Graphics and web designers today seem to be drawn to flat design, and for very good reason. The crisp and modern feel that ‘flat’ websites have allows web designers, bloggers, and business owners to focus on things that matter: the quality of the content and the message they want to send.

While flat design is enjoying a rise in popularity in the recent years, it’s been around for a good deal of time – long before the idea of designing websites was even conceived. The stylistic features of flat design can be traced all the way back to the 1920s in Germany. Eventually, it became the Swiss design style, which was the popular style during the 1940s to 1950s.

Fortune 500 companies recognized the value in keeping it simple when it comes to design. Famous for Windows 8’s “Metro,” Microsoft started to dabble with flat design in 2006 – releasing the Zune media player.

Responsive Design – Optimal UX And Viewing Experience

Consider the following statistics from a research performed by Smart Insights:

  • Over 20% of Google searches are carried out on a mobile device
  • In the US, 25% of internet users access the internet ONLY through a mobile device
  • And last but not the least, experts predict that mobile internet usage will surpass desktop usage this 2014

It’s of little wonder why more and more business- and website-owners opt for a responsive website. With responsive web design (or RWD for short), websites deliver optimal user and viewing experience whatever the device – desktop, smartphone, tablet, and everything else in between.

By using flexible images, proportion-based grids, and other elements, responsive web design keeps reading, scrolling, and navigating a breeze. Oh, a quick FYI: Google LOVES responsive websites – it allows Google’s bots to efficiently crawl and index content while providing positive user experience which is what the Big G wants.

Parallax Websites For Increased Engagement

It was in 2011 when Ian Coyle created Nike’s very first parallax website for “Nike Better World.” From then onwards, parallax web design added names like New York Times and to its growing list of users and supporters.

By using multiple layers where the background scrolls at a different rate than the foreground, parallax websites create a 3D-effect as you scroll up and down the page. While it can be overwhelming, parallax websites can deliver a subtle element of depth when used carefully.

While some experts express concerns over parallax design’s SEO-friendliness, the user experience (UX) benefits afforded by parallax-scrolling sites is undisputable.

  • For starters, it entertains and engages the user especially when combined with subtle animation.
  • Moreover, it lets designers lead users and readers through the website. Instead of using colors to attract someone’s attention, designers can use the 3D-feel and subtle animations to guide website visitors.

Fixed Navigation – Speed And Branding Above All!

As the name suggests, fixed or ‘sticky’ navigation has…well, a fixed navigation bar! It’s a web design technique that currently experiences a surge in popularity.

While having a fixed navigation bar or header doesn’t sound like it does much, the UX and branding benefits it provides is nothing to be sneezed at. In a recent usability study, experts concluded that a fixed navigation bar can reduce browsing / navigation time by 22%. That’s 22% less time spent on navigating around the site, and 22% more time spent on consuming the content you provide!

As a business-owner, you want your brand – your image, your logo, etc. – to stick. With your name, logo, and tagline fixed on the header / navigation bar on top of the screen, your readers will have an easier time remembering and recognizing your brand the next time they see it.

Large Hero Images – Your Brand’s Champion

Large hero images – they’re all the rage these days. You’ve encountered them for sure – those large banner images placed prominently on a web page. There’s no way you can miss it as they’re usually the first visual – often a combination of image and text – that a visitor encounters.

The content contained in a hero area / image depends on the website. An e-commerce site may use best-selling products and services while a news site might use a photograph taken by one of their journalists.

When done right, large hero images can powerfully convey your message – ensuring that your visitors know about your vision and most important ideas. For businesses, this could mean increased conversion rates.

Take Dell as an example. They revamped their contact page – replacing a small image and a paragraph of text with a large hero image. The end result: Bounce rates from their new contact page decreased by 27% while their form completion rate enjoyed a 36% increase!

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