WRITTEN BY: MIRANDA GARDNER
As 2016 begins to unfold, it’s time to talk about some current and projected design trends that can be utilized to drive more traffic. One of the biggest issues I see from small business owners is that everything about their branding or online presence is outdated. In an economy that is being driven by digital content, it’s imperative for small businesses to monitor the ever-changing spectrum of web design and graphic design trends to keep their web presence and advertising up to date. Using the following trends, you can start capturing your customer’s attention, create an interest in your brand and products, drive sales, and gain loyal customers.
“Flat Design” has taken the web, mobile, and branding identity front by storm. A few key features often characterize flat design: no added effects, simple elements, and solid blocks of color. In the airline advertisement above, every element is a minimalistic, illustrated representation of reality. Outside of simplifying what a potential customer will be looking at, this type of design has other benefits too. These images are generally less complex and smaller than images with lots of detail, and will therefore load faster online or on a mobile app.
This explanation will be short and sweet. Pantone, the leader of color communication and the creator of the most commonly used color swatches for print, has already released their Color Report for Spring 2016. As you can see, the bright and bold accent colors of previous decades have found their way back into the design world. Try to stay away from washed out color choices unless they are going to be used in combination with some bolder ones.
Having full screen images in the background of a company’s website has been a major design trend for the last few years and one that continues to grow. This form of design allows you to completely immerse a viewer into the atmosphere of a business or place. For example, airbnb.com allows a potential customer to be transported to any location through beautiful images of towns, cities, forests, and even hobbies found at the travel destinations as they search through the website. Full screen images are generally combined with our next design trend to create an eye catching design.
Typography is another element that has skyrocketed as a major graphic element and marketing tool over the last few years. Typography has always been its own language but due to the wide availability of these fonts through Google’s font library, more people are gaining access to fonts that were previously never used online or in print design. Big, dramatic fonts and word marks in all caps are extremely appealing right now as a marketing technique.
In the car shop website above, we can see a combination of the design techniques discussed so far. Their logo is flat, one color, and the background is a large image that is paired with multiple, bold fonts that jump off the page. We can also see the usage of all caps throughout this website for more emphasis on things like logos, headings, or other important information.
With the rise of websites like Pinterest, using a grid to lay out websites and advertisement design has become extremely popular. The good thing about grid systems is that they provide a quick and easy way to balance different elements, as well as place emphasis specific areas over others while maintaining a sense of uniformity across the site or advertisement. This is a great layout technique for small businesses that want to showcase their products, as each product will be easily viewable and can be compared to the item next to it.
In closing, it can seem like a lot of work to keep up with design trends because they are ever changing, but staying on top of these trends is of the utmost importance for small businesses looking to compete with not only larger, national businesses, but neighborhood shops across the street. The experience you create for your consumer, from the moment they view your website until they come into the store and buy a product, will determine brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is what will ultimately bring customers back into the door time after time.
To get a jumpstart on 2016, check out our business section for tips on creating a strong brand, getting the word out about your business on campus, and for tips on reaching businesses through digital platforms.