One month into the year and it's good to reiterate some trends that were showing themselves towards the latter part of last year and are still worth a look.
What's UI Design patterns and what's the significance?
It's something we shall see more and more of: solutions that solve common design issues for web designers. There's a strong reason for not reinventing the wheel, why not use an existing convention, and one that your users already recognise and are familiar with? It's all about helping the fluidity of the customer journey and focusing on familiar user interfaces.
Make sure you stand out
This may sound like we're contradicting the above statement but this is more a matter of strategic differentiation. Deploy video and slick elements to set yourself apart from the competition but only to boost your brand and its appeal. There is nothing worse than a website that tries to be clever for no other reason than to plump up the feathers of the agency doing the work. If it needs to be there, there has to be a business-orientated argument justifying its existence.
Think 'less is more'
This is my preferred mantra for the next 6 months at least. The little touches on a website matter so think about hover states and change colour, show subtle animation etc. Look at the buttons on your site, ghost buttons (very simple buttons that tend to look 'empty' with a light line framing them) are more effective if you show a contrasting colour on hover. Likewise, check out your menu button - could it expand or change shape as the cursor gets nearer?
Be bold, be simple, be clear
More websites are adopting a minimal home page layout particularly within the area that users see on page load. Keep fonts bold and large, supported with strong unobtrusive imagery but above all ensure you're telling people exactly who you are and what you do within that crucial 'halo' window. Remember: if people like what they see, they will scroll down - if they don't, you've lost them.
Make forms even simpler for users
Something the mso website has adopted is the full-screen form via the link in the header area. Taking the lead from the mobile experience, we wanted to ensure that website visitors have their full attention on what it is we require them to do. We've kept it incredibly simple (only 3 steps to complete) and also got rid of captcha. Although you'll see that we do have it our Get in Touch page. Why? So we can compare the number of spam accounts created against conversion rate. We need to work out what works for us right?
Choose your images carefully
Never has this been more true. Guaranteed that if you like a particular stock photograph so does someone else. We found out the hard way a few years' ago and actually we maintain the BBC copied us but who were we to argue?. There is nothing worse that telling people how unique you are and supporting that statement with a team photo that looks like it was obviously taken across that little stretch of water know as the Atlantic never mind the Thames...so if you have budget to arrange for your own photography, do it. It really is money well spent.
Still fuelling debate, there's no doubt that there are very differing views on scrolling. Our article 'The web page conundrum -to scroll or not to scroll' almost a year ago discussed whether or not you take the mobile approach and expect people to scroll, treating it first and foremost as part of the mobile experience. Conversely, do you tell people to concentrate on the elements above the fold? In essence, scrolling rules but make sure you give enough value during that journey to encourage people to continue down.
The way we see it, allow your web pages to spread and populate with good imagery throughout. Beware of the infinite scroll, unless you're Times magazine and you have such immersive content that visitors to your site are happy keep going.
We don't want to sound repetitive here but the focus has to be on mobile. An interesting article on the What Users Do blog details interviews taken with 21 UI experts asking them what they thought would be trending in 2016. The overwhelming consensus is that the mobiles offer so much more and we will see mobile becoming the priority, not second best behind desktop.