As we’ve worked with associations over the years, I’ve observed that website design continues to be a source of ongoing discussion for most organizations. For most, their latest, or upcoming, redesigns will focus on mobile and responsive design. And just when you think you’ve mastered this trend, two or three others are not far behind.
Even in the midst of what seems like constant change, certain web design trends appear to be here to stay. In an article for Fastcodesign.com, Zach Rutherford offered his take on six trends that seem to have staying power. Here’s a brief overview of three that I think are particularly relevant for associations:
- Artificial intelligence. According to Rutherford, “context is everything. Where and when an interaction happens is now as important as how or why. Is it on a phone? A tablet? Indoors or outdoors? What is the user doing in that moment? Users interact with a product in all kinds of different situations. Designers have to make the product's response as seamless and as helpful as possible. Of course, they can’t instantaneously read a user’s context in real time. But sophisticated and emergent artificial intelligence engines can.”
- Diversity. “One consistent complaint about the web design world is how often it engages in, shall we say, less than original practices,” Rutherford writes. “The proclivity of WordPress templates, responsive frameworks, and the desire to achieve a certain look (corporate, personal, portfolio, etc.) has led to a large degree of uniformity in design. This can only last so long.” I agree with his assertion that “websites don’t have to fit into a mold” and that “you should feel free to push boundaries, while holding onto the basics that make for a smooth user experience.”
- Rich illustrations. Rutherford observes that, “Traditionally, websites use stock photography and other photos for visuals. Moving forward, we will start to see more hand-drawn art. Hand-drawing offers warmth and a degree of originality that simply can’t be met with other visuals. As companies vie for consumers' hearts (and dollars), websites that convey an air of authenticity will be king.”
Rutherford’s best advice for keeping up with website design trends is not unlike that which we give to our association clients about technology: “Stop chasing microtrends, and start looking at the big picture.” Some things can’t wait, but others really can. It’s critically important that organizations carefully evaluate their requirements in all areas before adopting any new technology. Our Guide to Choosing the Best Association Software for Your Organization can help.