How important are design trends and images on your site?

  • December 18, 2013

In this article we give some insight into how shifting design trends can impact the way you go about designing your website.  There are some good ideas and tips discussed so make sure you have a read.

Web design has two sides: functionality and impact.

For functionality, it’s key that people know how to use your site. Traditionally on a desktop site people are used to seeing navigation at the top, or on the left. By placing it in a different position it is like putting the contents page of the book randomly in the middle. Although innovation in design is important it’s vital to adhere to the norms of design to make it as user friendly as possible. There is nothing wrong with adding extras, but the basics should be obvious. Since the increased use of different mobile devices, adaptive or response design is increasingly important. Meaning the site actually looks and behaves differently depending on the device the visitor is using. This is why it is essential that if your visitors spend a lot of time browsing on their phone or a tablet device, you need your site to feel right in this context.

If you are trying to making an impact, there are definitely trends that can also make your site distinctive. An example of this would be ‘marketing’ sites that are usually very clean, with one message, one video and one button click.

How image-heavy should a site be?

Images are very important. You want people to have an emotional connection with your business, this gives them confidence and is likely to secure you longer term sales. Strong Imagery appeals to the emotional side of the brain. This is why images that are real, human and impactful will always help this, you want the images to be a true reflection of your business. If you’re using stock shots you you need to pick carefully, it is true that there are some great images available, but there are also some that are so bad or ubiquitous as to have a negative impact on your design. It is a good idea to have a primary and secondary image style. Primary imagery should be bold and unique images you have taken yourself or professionally sourced. These secondary images should be used on for example blog posts for example and could sourced from stock libraries, but even then it is worth modifying or customising the image to give it your own style.

It is advisable that size and number of images should be considered as part of branding discussions. As previously mentioned the imagery you use signals a message to the target market. In the travel industry for example, it focuses heavily on fantastical imagery to sell holidays. The use of images can indicate the service or business you are dealing with, to use the holiday industry again, a lot of the bargain brands have websites filled with small images of all the destinations and holiday types. This acts as a signal to the user that this is a economically minded site, as it looks like a supermarket shelf with many colours and details.

Aspirational and luxury websites use big beautiful images with strong emotional, conceptual and artistic meaning. Not only does this appear to add value, it also plants the seed in the users head that this is a beautiful and exclusive luxury holiday.

How do you source the best non bespoke images for your site?
Using Google images is a bad idea, generally unless there is a Creative Commons license you are breaking copyright restrictions and risk someone challenging you further down the line. If the images are free to use they will have a Creative Commons “CC” in a circle attached to them in the details or in the case of, if you right click on the image. Otherwise, as mentioned before, there are multiple stock sites available that offer images at prices that are affordable and use a royalty free licence to enable the business to legally use the image on their website.

Gareth Jones
Technical Guy at SiteZulu