Website design trends come and go as technology evolves over the years. Some trends have a natural death as better options become available, such as Adobe Flash. Some seem like a good idea because they are easy, like widgets. And some are complete mysteries, like the rise in hamburger menus for desktop website design. All three of these trends need to end with 2017, and here’s why:
Adobe Flash is software that was widely used by website designers and developers at the start of the dial-up Internet era. Introduced in 1996, Flash became a popular way to add animation and interactive elements to websites. In the early days of modern website design (i.e. between 1995 and 2005), Flash was a cutting edge tool in video, audio, and vector rendering. Online advertising relied on Flash, and it was used to make games, interactive and video elements on websites, and more.
The problem, of course, is that websites and ads utilizing Adobe Flash required users to have the Flash Player software installed, and needed constant updates to load anything utilizing Flash. Which means this was a common sight for years when surfing the web:
Adobe announced this year it would “stop updating and distributing the Flash Player,” with a final RIP date of 2020. If any part of your law firm’s website uses the Flash Player, now is the time to select an alternative.
A widget is a short piece of code that places different elements on your website. Common examples include sidebar advertisements, embedded social media feeds, Google maps, and more.
Some widgets are incredibly useful and can add to the user experience of a website. Too many widgets do the opposite and ruin the user experience. For example, on the homepage below, widgets are used to render a newsletter subscription pop-up (on the left) and to embed ads in the right side bar menu, among other features.
Use widgets sparingly, and remember 55% of users spend less than 15 seconds on a webpage. That means you need to clearly and effectively communicate your firm’s message at a simple glance, proving the old adage that sometimes less is more.
Desktop Hamburger Menu
The hamburger menu evolved from a need to make menus responsive in design. This features condenses the long menu bar at the top of a website for optimal use on mobile devices like smart phones and tablets, making it easy for users to navigate around a site on a smaller screen.
Even though desktop websites don’t have this issue, desktop website design inexplicably began to incorporate hamburger menus anyway. These menus add a completely unnecessary step for users searching for information on a website. First, it assumes the user is familiar with the symbol, which may not be the case. Second, it wastes valuable seconds (of which you only have about 15 if you recall) where the user must search for the information they want instead of seeing it in a streamlined manner.
While hamburger menus are integral to keeping your website mobile responsive, the desktop version of your website design has more than enough real estate. Make sure your visitors are presented with the most user-friendly and accessible way to find what they are looking for.
What’s New for 2018?
So what will the next generation of website design include? Here are five hot topics in design we’re keeping an eye on for 2018:
- Flat Design: Minimalism is the name of the game moving forward. Websites will utilize clean designs with a lot of negative space, bright colors, and crisp edges.
- Security: More and more focus will be placed on information security and ensuring both users and websites are protected from malware and data hacks.
- Bottom Sticky Elements: Sticky menus, or menus that stay at the top of the browser window as you scroll down the page, have been around for years. But with more users browsing on mobile devices – where buttons along the bottom of the screen are used to navigate – a new trend is emerging where the sticky menus live at the bottom of the screen instead of the top. While intrigued by the idea, we aren’t sold on this one just yet.
- Bold Typography: Stock images ruled the Internet for years, but cool fonts and typography are seeing a resurgence in the world of web design. While websites should still use system fonts (or web safe fonts) for their content, bold out-of-the-box typography designs will replace stock images as the visual element on websites.
- Daring Colors: With the ‘flat design’ movement, one of the key components of keeping a website engaging is the use of color. Gone are the days of traditional blue and red for law firm websites. Try branching out to a bright green or incorporating a splash of orange to attract users’ attention.
Law Firm Website Design Experts
If your website is in need of an update, give us a call today. We specialize in adapting the latest in design trends to create the most user-friendly and technologically advanced websites for law firms across the country.