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Web Design Trends: Don’t follow it Blindly

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Google Web Design trends and it will show numerous results stating what is in and what is out.

For a web designer, keeping tab on the latest design trends and market scenarios play a crucial part. It helps them to create aesthetically pleasing site which is high on UX. However, getting trend-addicted and following them blindly often lead to disasters!

Web design trends very much like your fashion trends are temporary. Sometimes, it’s the necessity which bring a change, for example popularity of responsive design skyrocketed with increased use of mobile devices. While in some cases, trends are mere a by-product of major industry shift – for example increased preference for flat designs over skeuomorphism.

Before admiring and following any latest trends, it is important to understand that most of them have a very short life – with time, a majority of them fade away. Depending completely on current trends to design a site may not turn out to be as fruitful as one might imagine.

Therefore, keep unique business requirement of your clients at the focus, before applying any ongoing trend within website design.

With numerous web design ideas trending, a designer obviously gets tempted to apply them and create a site which is high on visual appeal and aesthetic. This thought-process is correct at many levels, however, it becomes equally necessary to know the grey areas attached to these trends. Taking a panoramic view of what’s trending helps the designer to decide what to apply and most importantly where.

In this article, we shall take a look at various aspects that often gets ignored when a designer follows a particular design trend without applying his/her discretion.

Hamburger Menu sometimes affect scalability and usability!

With rising popularity of mobile devices, designers began hiding navigation under a hamburger menu. This practice, was initially meant for just mobile devices, however with time, it penetrated within desktop versions. And hamburger menu is so popular these days that numerous websites, irrespective of the device are intensively using navigational drawer.

Web Design Trends 2016

Web Design Trends 2016

As you can see in these images, navigation hidden under a global hamburger menu results into a cleaner and sleeker site. This is probably provides a very strong reason for designers to go for a hidden menu. However, this might not always work out the way it should!

It is often seen that using hamburger menu for navigation reduces discoverability. Eventually, this adversely affect sites like eCommerce or news. For these websites, discoverability plays a crucial role as far as UX is concerned. If users find it difficult to open the navigation menu and search their favorite news piece or product, there are chances of developing resistance. This obviously will be the last thing on a designer’s mind.

Determining if hamburger menu works perfectly for your site, therefore becomes essential. Industry experts have put across some pointers, which helps to know the menu does not work:

  • Skyrocketing bounce rates on landing pages – If this is the case, it is recommended not to stick around with the hidden navigation.
  • Make sure the users actually click hamburger menu – No-clicks and combined with high bounce rates is an indication to change the approach and remove hidden navigation.

Complex typography may affect legibility and readability

While you can always apply multiple typefaces, it is generally recommend to not use more than two. However, there is no set rule; it is seen that too many typefaces make the site confusing and cluttered, thus adversely affects legibility and readability.

A few points to keep in mind before applying multiple typography:

  • While experimenting with fonts it is always necessary to aim for clean and clear presentation which reflects the brand’s visual identity.
  • Use fonts and typefaces that complement each other or are distinct enough to provide a contrast.
  • Additionally, find out the impact of a particular font/typeface on user psychology. It is believed that emotions and feelings are also attached with typography. A serif has an air of formality, while sans-serif shows reliability.

Parallax scrolling also create motion sickness!

A modern day web designer generously use parallax scrolling in their designs, primarily because this technique creates wonderful illusion effect, with foreground and background content scrolling at different speeds.

Even though, parallax adds the extra dimension and allows the site to stand out with appealing and interesting visual effects, its role in UX is a debatable topic.

Often designers compromise on scalability and usability for aesthetic. This is what exactly happens with parallax scrolling. Combination of graphical elements and text, undoubtedly makes parallax a powerful tool, allowing you tell your story with visually alluring and attractive graphics.

However, make sure the story you intend to tell is worth losing your visitors since a recent research conducted by “The Journal of Usability Studies” found that though parallax sites are considered cool and fun, it did induced motion sickness in some users! Additionally, many users also found significant usability difficulties, while interacting with the parallax websites.

This is not the end of it – A Parallax site also adversely affects SEO. They are usually be made up of one page and this leaves no other way for search engine to crawl through the site, resulting into low page ranks.

Moreover, it is also seen that parallax sites perform poorly due to the heavy use of graphics and JavaScript, which apparently slow down the page loading time.

Front-page Carousels results into poor site performance

Carousels has created a rage in the webosphere – They are found everywhere! Since, they reduce clutter, they are becoming a popular catch for adding enchanting visual effects, among the web designer.

Web Design Trends 2016

However, industry experts warn against its overwhelming use. In fact, many experts feel that this particular trend should be put to rest because:

  • Carousel is SEO’s foe: Carousels lack content, which eventually means that it becomes difficult to get Meta information into a page. Since, Google no longer crawls Meta keywords (although Bing does) and it will take keyword information from the page. Although, text present below a carousel, most sliders have headers are wrapped in H1. So, it changes when the slider does and further devaluing the keywords within.
  • Adverse effect on the performance: Often carousels contain high-resolution (and under-optimized) images. This badly affects load time of the front page, which is the most crucial part of the site. Use of JavaScript and jQuery also adds to the performance hiccups!

In addition to this, a study conducted in 2013 showed that just 1% of users click on carousels. They simply ignore and does not even note the content – thanks to the phenomena of banner blindness.

The purpose here is not to trash carousels. You should have a good reason to include carousels, as they work excellently, if carefully craft and optimize.

Overuse of JavaScript hurts your site

JavaScript, it seems is everywhere – Social plugins use them and so does many WordPress plugins. However, it cannot be denied that JavaScript significantly slows down a good site. No need to mention, users hardly stick around, if a site takes too long to load.

JavaScript can be highly functional – It can help in creation of wonderful load screens and other styling elements such as sliders. However, overusing JavaScript can hurt your site.

When JavaScript is used without any discretion, it:

  • Slows down the load time: Plugins and sliders create lots of different JavaScript files and CSS; further slowing down load time.
  • Adverse effect on mobile browsing due to load speeds.
  • Badly affects functionality and constant bug ‘breaks’ parts of a site.
  • JavaScript, like many web scripts, can be exploited if not implemented properly. Since, it calls to other sites in order to work properly (like social plugins), the chances of malicious code increases.
  • Search engines find is difficult to crawl through JavaScript and therefore if your site has plenty of them you may miss out on some keyword rankings.
  • Moreover, JavaScript doesn’t always work well on mobile devices, as it clogs up the speed of your page load.

There’s nothing wrong with JavaScript in general. It has a lot of great features and allows to add some stylish stuff on the web. However, it is better to use it judiciously.

Complex Screen Loads will take away your visitors

Earlier, website users were greeted with a Flash animated load screen, which actually forced them to sit through it before entering the site. Needless to say, it had a bad impact on the UX and gradually this practice took a back seat!

Although Flash animation is extinct now, complex screen loads are not! Designers, in order to make the site more attractive and interactive, use jQuery to create animated/interactive screen loads. No doubts, it adds beauty to the site, but usability is heavily compromised. These sites take long to long and with the decreasing attention span of current users, this again affect the visitors. A visitor will bolt from a site which takes more than 3 seconds to load, eventually affecting your bottom line.

Conclusion

To become a good designer, you are also need to be a good skeptic! There are some wonderful trends that have emerged as best practices in recent years. Like minimalism inspired an array of clean, fast and easy-to-use sites. Also, responsive web design has helped many businesses by reducing development costs, having just one site for stream of devices. In short, good trends come along and tend to stay, but you will always come across some which are ill thought out.

So, whenever a new trend emerges, always consider it from every angle before you follow the crowd.

About the Author:

Hitech ITO
Web Design and Development

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