10 Tips for Web Design in 2018
While there may be some constants in the world of design, what works best in web design often changes.
In short, web design evolves and it’s worth it for website owners to stay aware of changes and trends over time.
Make sure your website stays current and intuitive this year with these ten web design tips for 2018.
1. Go for journey-driven design.
You’ll be hearing a lot about mobile-first design this year, especially as Google rolls out its mobile-first index.
For some websites, that will make building mobile-first websites a top priority, but Smashing Magazine makes the compelling point that even this trend isn’t one size fits all. If the majority of your users are on desktop computers when they visit your site, they should be your priority.
At this point, all websites should be mobile friendly – there’s no doubt about that. But every website should be designed to work well for the particular audience that’s going to be visiting it. If prioritizing the mobile experience of your website in any way makes the desktop experience worse for users, then you want to be certain that more of your users are coming from mobile before you make that decision.
Analyze the particular journey of your visitors – both through your analytics and things like user testing – and base your design on that.
2. Do user testing.
People are just not as good at guessing at how other people will behave as we tend to think we are. Even for web designers with a lot of experience under their belt, it’s worthwhile to take the hypotheses you have about how people will interact with a website and test them out.
For example, a CTA link that seems extremely obvious to you could be easily overlooked by visitors used to interacting with websites that have a different layout, or the menu you thought was easy to navigate could actually be confusing for others.
The only way for you to figure out how people will actually react to a website’s design is to put it in front of them and see what they do. While this isn’t necessarily a new trend, it’s still a good tip: make sure user testing is part of how you do web design in 2018.
3. Keep it clean.
Clutter is both confusing and ugly. Clean website design looks better and makes a user’s experience better.
Research has shown that websites with cleaner designs have a lower bounce rate. And when there’s not as much on a page to distract visitors, the main message and CTAs you want to communicate are easier to see and follow – they’re not drowned out by everything else.
On Warby Parker’s home page, your attention is simply drawn to a couple of images that highlight their glasses and a few clear buttons that urge you toward the next steps to take. This kind of clean design works, so simplicity is a good design principle to stick with this year.
4. Incorporate accessibility.
For too long, web design was focused on the experience of the majority while leaving out people with disabilities. Little by little, more organizations and designers are becoming aware of how traditional web design has failed some portion of the population and are starting to work to make the web more accessible.
Experts have come together to outline inclusive design principles that designers can follow to make sure they’re creating a web experience that works for everyone. This isn’t just a good idea morally – it’s good for business. If you’re alienating potential customers now without knowing it because your design isn’t accessible, you’re losing sales.
Accessible design brings your website to a new audience and it can earn you the loyalty of people used to be being left out by most website design.
5. Create visuals with more depth.
Most of the images we encounter on the web are 2D, but that’s changing as more web designers use shadowing and depth in their design to bring some extra dimension to the images on websites.
Adding a little more depth to your images might not make a huge change in how a visitor experiences your website, but it can help draw attention to certain parts of the page and make the objects on your site feel a little more real to the people viewing them. See how Asana does it:
6. Make your design interactive.
When you visit a site that changes as you interact with it, you feel more engaged as you move through the site.
Parallax scrolling provides a more interactive experience as visitors scroll down the page and there are other features you can use to trigger animations or other functions based on how people interact with the page once they’re there.
In addition to these interactive additions just creating an overall cool experience, they also make your visitors feel like they have more power to control what they’re seeing on the website as they move through it, which makes their experience on your site a more positive one.
7. Commission original illustrations.
It’s getting increasingly difficult to stand out on the web, but original illustrations can quickly give a website some unique personality.
If you hire an illustrator and stick with a particular style, the type of drawings they create can become a part of your overall branding. It’s also a good way to add original images to your blog posts (like we do here at HostGator).
8. Put the customer first.
Many of the other tips on this list relate to this idea, but it’s worth bringing up on its own merits. We’ve seen a lot of examples of web design features that everyone knows people hate (autoplay video, pop ups that block the text, etc.), but websites still frequently use them anyway.
If people hate the time they spend on your website, they’re unlikely to stick around or come back. And they’re that much less likely to take the additional steps to buy something from you or sign up for a mailing list.
Your web design shouldn’t just be focused on getting what you want out of customers – whether it’s ad revenue or purchases (although that should be one of your considerations) – it should prioritize providing a positive experience to your visitors. Design so that your website is easy to use, answers your visitors questions, and never annoys.
9. Get creative with typeface.
Don’t feel like you always have to stick with the most common familiar fonts. Consider getting bolder in the typeface you choose. Make sure it’s readable (you don’t want people leaving your website in frustration that they can’t read what it says), but an interesting typeface is another way to add a dose of personality to your website.
You can even try variable fonts to highlight important terms on the page and add some animation to your wording.
10. Create a content hub.
Many businesses have made content a top priority in their marketing model. But even in cases where a lot of budget is going toward creating new content, the blog and other content formats are often tucked away in hard-to-spot links on the rest of the website.
For businesses ready to commit to making content more central in the user experience, consider creating a content hub that brings all those valuable pieces of information together in a way that makes them easier to spot, browse, and discover. Here’s an example from the folks at Uberflip:
Not every web design trend is right for every website, but by paying attention to your options and the trends that come into play each year, you can pick and choose what works for you and keep your web design current. Consider which of these tips you can use to provide a better user experience to your visitors in 2018 and get to work.
Want expert help keeping up on the latest web design trends? Sign up for HostGator’s professional web design services.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.