In today’s world, websites have a greater purpose than practical communication; they need to generate attention, traffic and/or sales. In order to do this, it is important for them to communicate effectively and efficiently while still being visually appealing. Fortunately, there have been many advances in web design over the years that have allowed us to accomplish this and more with our own websites, without even knowing how to code. Want to update your logo? Easy. Change out the layout of your photos? Simple. Find out the best way to best communicate your brand visually? Got it. The goal of this article is to identify the top website trends for this year. We tallied up the seven most popular website trends in recent years and delved into each. So whether you want to stay in the know of what is popular, or aim to completely redesign your site, be sure to read, take notes and give it a try for your own website and photo business.
Here are the most popular design trends in order of popularity.
In the early development of websites, elements were introduced to make pages look more interesting: shadows, texture and embossed letters. However, as coding progressed, more options for design were introduced, and people are finally hopping off the 3-D wagon. Flat design has emerged as a way to modernize the look of websites by eliminating all the extraneous elements that made objects appear to jump off the page. Flat design can create an inviting and simplified atmosphere for viewing content, especially when the spatial design of the page is used wisely. Most importantly, it reduces the amount of “stuff” happening and brings the focus back to the important content, our golden images. Flat design has the potential to enhance the look of images in a gallery, just as a simple mat and black frame can. In some cases—if you like ornate frames and it suits your work, go for it. Oftentimes, as we all have learned, less really is more.
Zenfolio understands that having more options generates opportunity for more creative and appealing looks. Zenfolio offers a comprehensive Theme Designer where users can create interesting flat shapes for buttons, to pump up the colors or add that small detail of shading or texture to make the buttons pop a bit more. The choices are endless.
Photographers are now able to choose from a variety of different fonts without having to figure out how to code them into our websites or mess around with licensing agreements. In the past, we were limited to standard fonts for browser compatibility. However, Arial, Georgia and Times New Roman can only take you so far in terms of expression. Thanks to companies like Google, who came up with Google Fonts, you now have the option to pull from a wider variety of interesting and expressive typographical choices, which can communicate more about you and your work. If you are interested in reading more about how typography can communicate, check out this typographical blog mentioned on Host Gator. Let your brand, personality and voice be reflective not only in the images but through the words too.
Zenfolio has enabled new resources for users to broaden the range of typographical access to Google Fonts when creating a custom theme in the Theme Designer. What’s great about that is that photographers have more than 600 fonts to choose from, so a match to users’ personality and brand style is at their fingertips.
The mobile-first design approach helps photographers take into consideration what can be viewable on a mobile device, whether it is an iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or tablet, effectively before bulking up the desktop version of a site with a lot of content or complicated design. It encourages you to simplify things a bit. For example, you might shorten the names used in your site menu and limit the amount of text added in content blocks to be as concise as possible. The added benefit of this approach is that your site looks cleaner, communication is more efficient, and, combined with flat design, it can help bring the focus back to those lovely images of yours.
All Zenfolio websites come with the option to display a mobile-optimized site to visitors who are browsing on their mobile devices. As a user, you can easily enable or disable this option in the Site Settings.
Responsive Web Design
In today’s day and age, a lot of our online time is spent on our mobile devices. This type of design appropriately follows mobile-first design in this list because it goes hand in hand across all devices, with that content. It detects the device and size of the browser window and automatically resizes accordingly to show a version that is appropriate for that device. Having responsive design doesn’t necessarily mean that you are off the hook when it comes to being accountable for content (it’s still good to consider the size of device that your site will be viewed on and keep things concise). Responsive web design has the ability to bridge the consistency gap between the different viewing experiences without having to create entirely new sites for each viewing environment.
Since all Zenfolio sites are built using HTML, are sites are compatible with most popular mobile devices, allowing site visitors to enjoy their photos on the go. As a user, you have the ability to make sure that all of the uploaded images scale photos between the generated display sizes.
Embracing the Scroll
This doesn’t mean pulling out the old parchment and donning an eye patch. Rather, embracing the scroll refers to the experience of drifting through information on a single web page. There are different types of scrolling pages: the infinite scroll with a bottomless well of information (e.g., Facebook); the parallax scroll, which appears to have different planes of information rolling over each other as you scroll; and then normal but long pages that require a lot of scrolling to get through. In a way, these all create an efficient, if not interesting, experience for people who are not a big fan of clicking an infinite number of times to get through a section of information. There is something to be said for not realizing how long you have been scrolling versus getting tired of the endless clicking. Long pages also translate nicely between devices on websites that embrace responsive design (not parallax necessarily). On the other hand, they can be less great for SEO, as fewer clicks truly means fewer clicks across your site. But it doesn’t mean that it cannot be embraced in different or unique ways. This is where larger and more interesting fonts can be useful to help your viewer pick out those important headlines, and where you can truly be expressive with your design and words.
Creating a long scrolling page is easy to do with a blog or a custom text page, but it takes a bit more coding prowess to create a visually engaging gallery page that scrolls into eternity. This is why Zenfolio has created the Dynamic Grid layouts that automatically create a well-organized mosaic with your settings from your gallery of photos.
We are seeing more large images being showcased on homepages and to communicate significant ideas throughout the rest of the site. It is no surprise that wide-screen and full-screen slideshows and the ability to add large background content to a homepage have emerged to support this endeavor. Still-frame images are not the only ones taking center stage or providing backup support; videos are becoming increasingly popular alternatives for text. With the photography and art world progressively moving into virtual galleries and online stores, the ability to share your work on a more impressive scale means better presentation of those amazing details, which leads to greater appreciation—and ideally more sessions and sales.
It’s easy to create widescreen and full-screen slideshows for your homepage with Zenfolio. Not only can photographers use a widescreen slideshow for their homepage with photos and/or videos, but there is a full screen version available in photo pages as well.
Customized Image Galleries
This category embraces new and interesting ways to display your images, for example, grids and photo strips. The grid layout is very versatile because it can be tailored to best showcase the type of work you are presenting. Photographers can use this to showcase specific types of portraits and demonstrate consistency in the quality of their work, all showcased in a beautiful presentation. The photo strip is equally awesome as it creates a scrolling navigational storyboard within a gallery. Images can be presented right up against each other—reminiscent of our old friend, the negative—creating interesting juxtapositions of light, color, contrast and subject matter. The new gallery options help your images sing and keep visitors coming back for more.
Zenfolio dynamic thumbnail grids and photo strips are versatile and great storytelling options for all events, galleries or for the homepage. Users can enjoy new and improved presentation options.
The Choice is Yours
Just because there are certain design trends happening now doesn’t mean that you have to abide by them in order to stay current. These design tools simply allow greater room for expression, but what is most important is that the site functions and communicates as needed. In reality, you only need to use what is necessary for your site, and you have the power to change things around until it feels just right—as Goldilocks and the three bears would agree. It is important that your website has some key fundamentals, such as: being mobile friendly, having a blog, marketing tools such as email campaigns and social media buttons, and of course, the option to sell with an e-commerce platform that is both intuitive and easy to navigate for your customers as well as easing your workflow and workload. Having custom pages is also great to tweak your website just how you want it whether that is with a testimonials page, About Me video, or a PDF price list, for example. The sky is the limit.
Zennies around the world are uniting as they speak to share their websites with each other, gain feedback and create brain grooves. The Meetup Directory is a great community tool for Zenfolio and while they have several popping up across the US and in the UK, there is a need for many more folks to stand up to take the lead to start a group in their communities.
This post is sponsored in nature. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the sponsor and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Photography Spark.