Four things marketers should know about the future of web design

Identifying trends in web design is like shooting at a moving target. Technology and audience behavior on the web continue to evolve, forcing the best practices in design to change as well. As we continue to improve the Bitly experience for all of our users, we started thinking about the importance of design in product development and in marketing.

We sat down with John Ashenden, founder of H1 Studios, to discuss trends in web design. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Minimalist design and longform sites will continue to be popular - As screens have become sharper and consumers have a better understanding of interfaces, designers have the freedom to simplify and experiment with design. One result of this is flat or minimalist design, where designers strip out everything unnecessary and focus on key facets that will elevate the message and the content. As technology evolves and devices have sharper screens, users have a greater appreciation for higher resolution assets. Minimalist design incorporates simple vector assets, which scale and shrink nicely, compared to clunky bitmap images or heavy gradients, shadows and other complex styling. Since users are more educated, designers have more freedom in their design. As mobile web usage continues to grow, longform sites grew in popularity because of how easy it is to navigate using a thumb rather than a mouse (but more on that later).

  • It’s all about the message - Marketers should always focus on content and the message, allowing the design to compliment rather than compete. It’s important to understand that the message and the design are as much unrelated as they are intertwined in their objectives. With the minimalist design approach, the focus of the site isn’t the animation or the imagery - it’s the message. In the creative community, the priority is always how to highlight the message in the best way possible. In the future, we’ll continue to see an emphasis on content and a continued simplification of design so it will feel clean, sharp and out of the way. Good design gets out of the way and elevates the dialogue.

  • Marketers must measure - If your business is dependent on your product, make sure you have great metrics in place when introducing a new design or message. People are naturally wary of change and rolling a change out overnight can cause serious backlash, but more importantly, it opens a dialogue for discussion. If you can track how people are interacting with your website and that those measurements have improved over time, you can justify the new design and help your team understand and appreciate the changes.

  • Mobile has permanently changed design - The surge in popularity of longform website design is partially due to mobile. Mobile web users found it challenging to deal with traditional web navigation on their devices. It feels more natural to the mobile web user to scroll rather that jump tabs to navigate through a website. If you can design a site that doesn’t require a horizontal navigation, you can allow the viewer to see everything by using their thumb. Longform websites translate nicely into the responsive structure.

As audiences become more tech-savvy, designers will have more freedom and room to experiment with their work. Understanding these different design trends and elements can help marketers work hand-in-hand with their design teams to create strong, memorable, design and messaging.

John Ashenden (@ashenden) is the founder of H1 Studios, a web and mobile design, branding and development studio in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2012, H1 Studios has worked with a number of leading companies and growing startups to create unique and engaging digital experiences. Learn more about H1 Studios by visiting their website.