April 30, 2015

5 Trends in Web Design That Aren’t Totally Stupid

5 Trends in Web Design That Aren’t Totally Stupid

There are way too many web design trends these days that are completely, irredeemably idiotic. But here are 5 that aren’t.

Oh, web design. With all of the crazy artists out there who realized going into graphic design was probably the only way to make an actual living, it’s no wonder that some websites have gotten decidedly funky-looking. Whether they’re trying too hard or just look horribly outdated, there ain’t much good about a bad website design.

Still, we managed to extract a few good apples from the ginormous barrel of crappy trends. For the love of all that is holy, please—PLEASE—use at will.

1. The Grid

If you haven’t heard of The Grid, better grab a seat and get ready for your mind to get blown. No, really. You’ll want to sit down for this because The Grid is a literal game-changer when it comes to outrageous web design.

The Grid is an AI version of a graphic designer that builds a site for you based on your goals and preferences to present your brand in the best possible way. Instead of adapting your content to a static (or even a dynamic) web design, The Grid works the other way around. The company’s tagline is, “Wouldn’t it be better if websites could just build themselves? Now they do.”

Can we please bring in Keanu Reeves to deliver his trademarked, “Whoa,” for this?

2. Iconography Coupled with Text

OK, you know how the tag inside your shirt has those indecipherable icons that are allegedly supposed to shed some light on the washing instructions? Those little guys—or symbols a lot like them—are popping up an awful lot on websites these days. Unlike the ones on your clothing, though, this iconography is coupled with text for easy translation.

As using app-based navigation becomes more and more ingrained in our neural pathways, stripping down menus to visual elements just makes sense. Plus, it looks real slick.

3. Gigantic, Screen-Filling Imagery

Header image? How about a full-pager image instead? The modern website design can be easily identified in the wild by its massive, full-screen imagery. Think Apple. Think the Google Nexus homepage. Think every wedding photographer ever.

Even DIY website building platforms such as Squarespace are amping up their popularity on a solid foundation of fancy pictures. Simply offering templates that include larger background images makes virtually any idiot capable of building something that looks like an honest-to-goodness professional website, immediately setting them apart from crappier DIY options.

4. Dynamic Storytelling

In theory, every website has a story to tell. In practice, sometimes the story gets lost in some obscure drop-down menu way down in the footer. Today’s trending websites love to scroll, scroll, scroll instead of click, click, click. Check out the Akita website for a truly epic example.

Does this mean that every website needs to pretend it’s “War and Peace”? No, but maybe the equivalent of a short graphic novel would be nice. Today’s short-attention-span audience needs to be entertained, after all.

5. Flat Design

Flat design probably sounds like a bad thing, but we promise you it’s not. Instead, it’s a method of website design that doesn’t use shadows, gradients, or other dimensional elements to convey depth. The look is clean and crisp, just like so many brands are adopting these days. The app design company Oak Studios has this concept all dialed in, as does Foundation. (Hey! There’s that iconography stuff again!)

Done properly, flat design offers a bold, no-frills approach to defining your brand. But done poorly, it looks empty and boring, so be sure to only trust the experts on this one.

As far as trends go, these ones have our votes for staying power and effectiveness. Of course, each design choice has to be made according to the company’s overall branding and advertising campaigns, so incorporating these tips should be done only if and when appropriate.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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