A new year means a whole new set of projects for the marketing team, and my list this year includes revamping our existing website. Doing a website overhaul could quite possibly be the most daunting of all tasks next to rebuilding an infrastructure, of course, but we can talk about that another time. There’s obviously a lot of niche elements that we can dig into regarding connectivity to your existing tools and ATS platforms as well as regulatory compliance for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and CCPA (California Consumer Protection Act). Since these elements can get very narrow, very quickly, I’d like to keep the topic light and focus on the website design trends for 2020.
Whenever I’m about to embark on a new project, I like to take some time to review what thought leaders are saying first. After checking some popular blog and forum resources, here are the design elements that people in the KNOW are suggesting will be hot in 2020.
Split Screen Contrast
I love this concept for the staffing industry since the two primary persona groups targeted have diametrically opposed value propositions. Using this design element would allow your visitors to define who they are in your ecosystem and align the content to the persona. Extra points here if your marketing automation platform is connected, can record the behavior, and send the information to your ATS (Applicant Tracking System) or CRM (Customer Relationship Manager). Connectivity will provide you considerable gains in database segmentation going forward.
While I did see some mention of parallax being used more in the new year, I feel like it would need to be wildly dynamic to break from its introduction some 10+ years ago and hold its own section. In this instance, I’m referring to the overall static layering design effects that would be applied to the page as you scroll. You could include the use of parallax in the effort, but be mindful to not distract from the message with too many shiny things.
Whitespace and Solid Frames
Whitespace has had varying degrees of popularity over the years, while the notion of a “clean design” has always been vital. This year specifically, it appears there is a stronger lean towards having more clean open spaces to give the content a stronger positioning point free from distractions. Keep in mind; whitespace shouldn’t be taken literally as it just means negative space. It can be white, red, purple, black, or any other color.
I was a bit surprised to see solid frames on many lists since this was an aesthetic that was applied to many sites back in the early 2000s, but went away when full width gained popularity. While this may not be something that everyone will gravitate towards, I do feel like it draws your attention in towards whatever message is inside the space.
Dark Mode Options
The Dark Mode option was initially introduced to the Windows Phone 7 consumer back in 2010 as a means to conserve energy on OLED screens. Since then, it’s really been gaining traction with the Samsung release on their devices in December 2018, Apple in June 2019, and Google in August of 2019.
If this is a design aesthetic you’re considering for your website, I’d highly recommend spending time assessing the user experience you get from your device that supports dark mode. The companies that have adopted this have massive budgets to research the functionality and usability to be a highly adaptive user experience. Design elements should improve the experience and delight the person that is engaging with your brand, not distract them from your messaging.
Mix Photos with Graphics or Illustrations
I would define this element as imperfectly perfect. Balance and context are always the intent of staged pictures. By adding graphics or illustrations over the top of these images, it brings a human element to the story. It provides the viewer a glimpse into the world of your organization and the type of personality they’ll experience.
This human element is a great way to amplify your brand’s tone in a way that will really resonate with the viewer. People want to interface with humans, and this provides the extension during their digital interaction.
Subtle nuances can nudge a website towards a minimalistic approach. You obviously don’t want to be so minimal that it creates a poor user experience, but pulling back on some of the historically formal elements of web design could make it more engaging.
Rethink your menus. Assess your current page flow. Approach your website from the visitor’s perspective and take the journey yourself. Just like when you’re writing an article or designing office space, the old expression holds true. Less is more. Using this design in concert with the others will really allow your content to shine while still providing the viewer control over the navigation when they’re ready.
Mobile Thumb Friendly UX
With the advent of smartphones in the marketplace, mobile has been a topic of discussion around website design. And while we may all be tired of discussing mobile responsiveness, the new question is even more granular. Are you mobile thumb-friendly? Yup.
If you’re going to have a conversation about UX (user experience) in the design of your website, you have to be considering the people that are visiting your space that are using their mobile devices. Depending on the resource you view, the percentages of mobile users can be in excess of 70% in the jobseeker community. If that’s even half true as it relates to the people that you assist at your staffing agency, then you need to be considering what the user’s experience is when interacting with your website. How convenient is the scrolling? Where are the menus on mobile? Is the design thumb-friendly?
The easier people can interact with the content on your website (including jobs), the more likely they are to interact with your organization throughout their decision process and application/buying cycle.
Animations and Micro Interactions
Let’s be honest, shiny things and stuff that moves gets our attention. When people are scrolling through your website, a full video may be overkill for the 5 to 10 seconds of viewing the page may get. Keeping this in mind, using short repeatable GIFs and cinemagraphs can draw the visitor’s attention to the content you’d like them to focus on. The biggest misstep here is putting all the effort behind the animation and not giving enough consideration to the conversion. Remember, visitor evolution is always the goal.
I’ve included micro-interactions in this section because they’re incredibly similar to animations. These are the progression meter interactions you get that tell you a page is loading or the automated message in a chatbot telling you that the rep will help you shortly. Keep in mind, in your client’s journey; they will experience delays in the process. When these go unrecognized, it will be unclear to your visitor that they are supposed to wait, which could result in them leaving. In this case, over-communicate to let them know that what they are experiencing is normal and a part of the process.
Oversized Text and Text Heroes
This design element is exactly how it sounds. Huge supersized text. Big, bold typeface and fonts against a clean, minimalistic, and modern design will really call attention to the displayed content. This aesthetic could be challenging to pull off the desired effect, but if you can stretch your creativity a bit, it could yield a great experience. Go extreme when playing with the placement and orientation, and ask for people’s interpretation to ensure legibility.
Contextual Tech and Ai
Ok, I said I wasn’t going to get into the weeds here, so I’ll do my best to keep this brief. The advancement of technology has given our prospects the expectation that we will have some intelligence present to improve their experience. This expectation, however, requires connectivity to tools that can be triggered by visitor behavior. Progressive profiling is typically built into the background of a proprietary CMS (Content Management System) platform that your website has been built on. Progressive profiling is the act of gradually defining the individual visitor based on their behaviors and form fills on your website. If your current CMS doesn’t provide the options, marketing automation software may offer you some capacity to enable these features. At a baseline, tools outside your website would require you to have those pages built in their ecosystem to control the experience.
For anything Ai, I would be leaning on my ATS or CRM to provide the lift. It’s where all your data is stored and, therefore, the central hub from which you would want to gather, assess, and execute. At Bullhorn Engage 2019, there was a great session about Ai and machine learning they were working on to improve the onboarding process for the candidates and reduce the lift from the back office. For communications like this, I would ideally want to manage them from the source instead of a peripheral tool.
Phew…I think I did it. I’m going to stop here, and if you have any questions, we can chat about those details.
Retro Style with a Modern Design
Retro seems to be everywhere these days. I’ve seen it in digital, print, packaging, fashion; you name it! For myself, it has a very nostalgic feel, but the amazing thing is the universal acceptance and adoption. Younger generations that may not have grown up with the line gradients and old school color combinations are enjoying the designs all the same.
I think two challenges exist in this design trend. First, you want to make sure that your color and stylistic selections align with your existing brand. It will obviously be a bit of an extension, but it still needs to feel “On Brand” to execute the idea. The second issue is taking this retro style and applying it to a modern design aesthetic. Just like the conversation about animations and micro-interactions, it’s not enough to come up with a really clever design concept. You must now take this retro concept and retain your 2020 modern approach. This challenge may already be remedied by using a lot of whitespace, solid frames, or minimalistic navigation. Still, it’s worth mentioning that retro without modern will just feel old and outdated.
Bold Color and Gradients
You might be thinking to yourself, why didn’t he include bold color and gradients in the retro section. That is because they are, in fact, different. I would strongly suggest here that you pick your own personal journey. While many of the concepts I’ve mentioned in this article could work well together, some could create conflict.
First, I would hardly consider retro design to have bold color. When picking the retro era you’d like to mimic, there will be a particular color palette that you’ll encounter, which will likely make many of your decisions for you. So in reference to using big, bold color, we’re discussing that amplified version of your brand guide that would make it over-the-top.
Smooth transition gradients are a thing. I feel like ever since Instagram updated its logo from the old Polaroid-style camera icon to the burst of color icon, there’s been more gradient appearing. In using gradients, it could be an excellent opportunity to transition down a page from whitespace to heavily branded space. Smart leveraging of this concept could act as a guide for your user to progress through your digital space.
3D, Horizontal Scrolling, and Everything in Between
So there was a LOT of trends that people were claiming would be significant for 2020. 3D came up multiple times as did full-screen forms, voice user interface, geometric shapes, and horizontal scrolling. While I think that any of these ideas could be amazing in progressing the UX (user experience) of your website, I also believe that they are very dependent on the type of business, customer, and brand you portray. If your audience is pining to experience your outside the box wild innovation, then give the people what they want! Just be careful to a caution I mentioned earlier, design can be distracting and provide you the opposite result of your initial intention.
In the end, trends are helpful because they provide options to the ideation you may be going through today. And the best part about options is that they aren’t mandatory. I hope this provides some insight and inspiration to any website builds you may be working on in this upcoming year. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to chat with you.