As you browse the Internet, you will notice that a lot of sites are now sporting fresh new hero images and less sliders. Hero images are large photos or graphics that typically take up the space above the fold on a website. A hero image may also incorporate text. It is typically used to highlight an important component of a brand’s story or product. Some critics argue that it oversimplifies a website, but when most visitors stay on a site for 10-20 seconds or less, designers are challenged to find the best way to capture and keep your interest. When done well, hero images can really evoke the affect that brands are looking to convey and draw visitors in to experience more.
Mobile is becoming the way that most consumers access the web, so we are seeing more websites turn to responsive design. A few years ago, the trend was to create a separate mobile site that would automatically pull up for visitors accessing your URL from a mobile device. The days of maintaining a separate mobile website are gone. Now, many content management systems (CMS), like WordPress and SquareSpace, have built-in responsive design for templates and themes. This allows your website the native ability to transform into a mobile-friendly layout, while keeping your same brand elements and style.
For years, we have been talking about the need for businesses to incorporate videos with their web strategy. People like to visually consume news and information, so it makes sense that the trend toward video and animation keeps picking up. Remember the hero image we referenced above, well some websites are trending toward using a video or animation in the hero area on the home page. In addition, many news websites are now combining a text news story with a video version as well, giving site visitors a choice as to how they wish to engage with the content.
We have noticed on an increasing number of sites where the navigation is no longer a main feature of the home page. Some websites are incorporating simplified menu options, tucking the menu bar behind an icon that is expandable and readily available when needed. This may seem counter intuitive at first, but it helps to move the navigation out of the way of an otherwise stunning design. Internet users are savvier now about finding their way around a website, so icons provide a visual cue on how to find a tucked away menu bar and other elements on the site. We have also seen that some websites are maintaining the menu-bar look, but move the navigation to the very top of the page and once again, out of the way for beautiful design to become the main focus.
You may remember the original web designs were one long page with a lot of static information, or brochure sites. Then, we got wise to pagination and began creating hierarchical structures for navigation. Information began to get buried behind secondary and tertiary pages. Now, we are seeing a return to long scrolling sites, but with a bit more innovation. Instead of links taking users to a different page, these web pages incorporate links that allow users to locate specific sections within the same page. In addition, a “Top” link will usually take users right back to the start of the page. Links are strategically placed at the end of every section making it easier and faster to navigate around the page.