Remember the websites of the late ‘90s?
They were an embarrassment, weren’t they? Full of blinking, flashing GIFs, colored boxes, animated headlines over lengthy blocks of text—anything to grab and hold your attention, to make them stand out from the crowd so that you would read their content.
Then it seemed that in 2000 everyone discovered the grid, and web pages began to look more and more like a copy of USA Today.
It seemed like overnight, multi-column layouts, sidebars, and page-based, deep-menu websites with elaborate Flash-based intro screens took over.
Serious business was getting done on the Web, and serious businesspeople read the news, right?
So newspaper-based formatting was the design inspiration.
In the 2010s, Apple led the design trend away from fake realism and towards a clean, modern, post-paper style.
But most web design lagged behind, still fascinated with the latest tech—internet video!
Inspired by YouTube, it seemed, every website had a video intro, GIF-based banners, or moving photos right out of Harry Potter—almost like we went back to those ‘90s websites for inspiration.
It was hard on the eyes, that’s for sure. And all that visual noise did what it always does—turn visitors off.
Which brings us to today. At the start of the ‘20s, we’ve learned a thing or two about what our audience really wants in a website.
Freed from outdated paradigms and using the latest visual capabilities only where they will really make a difference, websites are also being redesigned to fit in the palm of the customer’s hand.
Here are the latest psychology-based website design rules, just in time for the next decade:
Text is minimal. Today’s website visitor is likely looking at a 4-inch screen. They get their information from visual cues and a quick scan of headline and subhead. Then they’re off to see what the competition is saying.
Fullscreen for full attention. Most of the websites that work these days open with a full-width banner image. Usually full-screen, and dynamically resizing to fit laptop, tablet or phone, this is the first thing they see—and sometimes the last, if it doesn’t grab the user and start telling your story.
But it showcases your message, and stands with your headline as the one thing customers will take away with them.
Sideline the sidebar. Once a mainstay of web design, it makes sense in a newspaper where a monotonous block of gray text needs to be broken up and summarized.
But websites scroll. Information is presented vertically and sequentially, and sidebars are a distraction. If you have one on your website, you’re competing against yourself for attention.
White space is an eye-saver. For all this talk about overthrowing old rules, one still stands:
Less is more.
A good web design has open space and an airy look for visual relief. Look at Google. Not a border or menu bar in sight. Your eye goes right to the target—the search field. Does your site do that with your most important message?
Are you looking tired and dated online? We can help. Contact us today for more information.
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