It can often be hard to make the distinction between passing fad and useful feature, at least when it comes to web design. Website trends evolve from year to year but certain changes have shown consistent and significant yield, proving that they’re here to stay–and should be considered in your website redesign roadmap.  

Your website is the gateway to additional leads, higher conversions, and a superior customer experience. We’ve found that companies that focus on delivering better customer experiences get ahead of their competition by offering better search, more interactive content, and better resources, among other improvements.

By implementing these 5 web design trends you will be better equipped to offer the personal, contextual and relevant experience your customers expect and deserve.

1. AI-powered site search

Fasken revamped their website with powerful search functionality

Discussions surrounding the search box have been making waves in the design community.  A good search experience is essential to a good website, so it makes sense that talk of the search box has been on the rise. Recent trends indicate that your search box should be prominent, consistent, and appropriately sized to make sure to signal to your visitors that your search is usable and efficient.

Improved site search design can lead to a vast amount of other benefits for your company: improved customer satisfaction, better self-service, and higher engagement. In fact, visually attracting your visitors to interact with the search box can have tangible benefits: site visitors that use search are 5-6 times more likely to convert.

If you’re interested in knowing more about how better search brings tangible business benefits, check out our eBook with our valued partner, Perficient:

Top Tips to Boost Conversions
with Personalized Site Search
eBookTop Tips to Boost Conversions<br /> with Personalized Site Search

2. Interactive content and animations

Vidyard features an animated landing page that encourage their readers to download their report

Making sure your visitors are engaged means providing content that is engaging. That could  mean some simple scrolling animations, or adding elements to the site that visitors can actually interact with and click.  

That being said, the trick is to be engaging without being overwhelming. Maximalism has been a recent design trend that is responding to minimalism: these websites tend to be visually jarring, creating visual effects that are intentionally overwhelming to site visitors.

While we wouldn’t recommend this kind of design approach when redesigning your corporate website, there are a few important takeaways from this new design trend. For one, creating a website that is visually interesting directly correlates with the amount of engagement your website is going to get.

Making your website “pop” can have a huge impact on engagement. Creating a landing page that is engaging could mean the difference between a visitor that bounces and a potential lead.

3. Bright colours and illustrations

Salesforce Trailhead features a bright explorer-inspired illustration as the theme for its learning progression

Customers are getting bored with simple black and white layouts and designs. While you want to be mindful to not over-stimulate your visitors with your design, you will notice that companies are trending towards brighter colours and illustrations in order to capture their visitors’ attention.

This is because companies are seeing that 38% of visitors will not engage with their website if it is unattractive. The lesson here: you need to make sure that your website reflects the current understanding of “attractive.”

Interested customers tend to be engaged customers. Depending on your audience, a “clean” and “corporate” design might not be the best approach. Salesforce took a more casual design approach to their Trailhead training site: by creating a Scouts-themed badge system to reward customers for their learning, Salesforce successfully launched one of the most popular CRM-learning platforms available online.

Try to look for ways that you can spruce up your colour palette. Doing this effectively lets your audience know that you’re serious about staying relevant and innovative — not just in the way that your product looks and feels, but also in the ways in which you approach design.

4. Personalized experiences uses content personalization to deliver relevant articles to its readers

Personalization has been around for a while, but only now is it becoming a non-negotiable for companies which are redesigning their websites. With platforms like Sitecore xDB, personalization doesn’t have to be restrained just for the eCommerce section of your website.

Depending on customer location, previous site searches, and other salient identifying information, personalization platforms and insight engines can help tailor the content of your website to the audience that is receiving it. Staying relevant is vital if you’re trying to get ahead of your competition, so why not start by improving your first impressions through web design and personalization?

The best part is that it works: experienced an 125% increase in mobile conversion rates after they started personalizing their customer experience with Sitecore. By indexing and surfacing content recommendations using AI-powered search and Sitecore, CMSWire was able to use relevance and personalization in order to improve their conversion rates.

5. Content hubs and resources

Stripe features a content hub that collects the company’s combined business know-how

Resource pages are currently undergoing a renaissance, and for good reason: allowing your customers to find the information that they need in the format that they prefer increases engagement with your brand — all while providing your website with the visibility, authority, and traffic insights that it deserves. What’s not to like?

Unifying your company’s collective knowledge in a content hub brings about a variety of benefits. It allows your company to retain control over both your brand and your customer experience, simply because a content hub puts creation and curation into your marketing department’s hands. It also helps you understand your customers better: by engaging your customers on your own digital properties, you can garner usage insights regarding what they’re looking for and what they’re interested in.

Ultimately, a well-designed content hub can help nurture a more loyal and more engaged customer that keeps coming back to your products and services. By helping your customers find what they want you are not only engaging them directly on your website, you are also learning about your customer’s experiences and interests much more deeply than you would otherwise.

Remember: web design isn’t just about how your website looks. It’s also about the value that your site visitors receive from your website’s functionality. If you have any other ideas regarding which trends you see taking over web design in 2018 and after, let us know on Twitter.