Posted on May 24, 2017

7 Trends in Modern Web Design All Business Owners Must Know

Did you know that 48% of people cite a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business? To these folks, it doesn’t matter how good your business is or how much better your products or services are than your competitors.

If your website doesn’t look the part, they aren’t going to give you a second glance.

That’s why it’s so important for all business owners to keep up with modern web design trends. You don’t need to jump on every single trend that arises, but staying on top of web design news will help you determine when your website’s seemingly-outdated appearance could be causing it to lose business.

7 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2017

Every year, technology changes and once-popular designs become stale. That doesn’t mean that former design best practices become an automatic strike against your business. In fact, many aspects of website design – such as the use of appropriate white space and contrasting font and background pairings – are essentially timeless.

Don’t read this list as a prescription for what you have to do, or consider it to be a complete list of all web design trends influencing sites in 2017. Instead, use it as a series of guidelines to better understand where web design is headed this year and how consumers expectations may change.


Design Minimalism

Over-cluttered, over-designed stylings are out in 2017. Clean, simple and modern website designs are in.

Take the example below of Leen Heyne’s Fine Jewelry collection:

Not only does the site’s minimalist approach put the focus where it should be – on the jewelry itself – it’s simple look manages to convey an air of luxury and sophistication.

That’s an important point to remember if you’re trying to attract a high-end clientele. Richness and opulence in web design aren’t the only way to appear luxurious. Simple and understated can do the trick just as easily.


Gradient Color Schemes

Gradients are everywhere – from Facebook’s new status update styling options to the headers found on many modern websites.

Amber Leigh Turner, writing for The Next Web, gives the example of Lois Jeans’ Underground Culture AW16 campaign:

underground culture website

According to Turner:

“While flat design helped us get rid of (most) gradients, using duotone imagery that combines a couple of colors together has proven to be a nice update to the old and tired gradients and solid color areas.”


Bold Typography

Typography represents another opportunity for webmasters to change it up in 2017. While “big and bold” has been in-style for some time, today’s designers are taking things a step further by experimenting with custom-drawn fonts and new on-page placements.

Here’s one example from the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission:

sunday breakfast website


And another from Coneflower Creamery:

coneflower creamery webisite

Even though the two sites above couldn’t be more different, both use the creative possibilities of typography to create resonant branded imagery.


Hand-Drawn Illustrations

Hand-drawn illustrations are a fun update on the flat design trend that’s dominated web creatives for the past few years.

The Australian website, New Acton, shows how fun these images can be with sequentially-loading illustrations that come together to form the picture below:

website with drawn images


Complex Layouts

In 2017 and beyond, web design is moving past its strict, formulaic layout roots and embracing more creativity and complexity.

experimental layout lab website

John Moor Williams of the Webflow blog shares the example above and offers the following explanation for the coming prominence of this trend:

“If we want to predict the evolution of web design (at least in visual terms), we should refer to the evolution of graphic design. For the past few years, web design layout has been constrained by CSS’s limitations, but new tools like flexbox and CSS grid will allow for much more expressive layouts on the web.”


A Focus on Content

Jennifer Kyrnin of ThoughtCo offers the following compelling explanation for the importance of web content in 2017:

“What your customers are coming to your web page for is the content. If your designs, site architectures, and interactivity are all wonderfully executed, but if the site does not offer usual, quality content, your visitors will leave the site and look for another that does offer the content they are seeking.”

So what does a site that’s focused on content look like? For some sites, it might be placing top blog articles front and center. For others, it might be sharing data in new and interesting ways – as in the case of the data visualization shared on the UserSnap blog:

usersnap website


Interactive Elements

Finally, there’s the growing importance of interactive elements and the various ways they can engage website visitors.

“Interactive elements,” in this context, can mean everything from simply using a video header to the more complex options of adopting live chat tools, virtual reality (VR) or artificial intelligence (AI) features.

Tomas Laurinavicius, writing for Forbes, shares the example of Peugeot 208’s promotional campaign that used both virtual reality and 360-degree video to create a stunning on-screen experience that could be enhanced with Google’s Daydream VR headset:

Peugeot VR website

Elegant Themes’s John Hughes explains how these different technologies could expand the potential of future website designs:

“While it may not seem like a useful technological advancement for web design, virtual reality opens a whole host of storytelling and narrative possibilities. It offers you a new medium with which to engage users, and if you get started now, you’ll be well ahead of the pack.”

So, in light of these trends, should you be rushing out to build virtual reality, hand-drawn illustrations and other modern web design elements into your site? The answer is: it depends.


How and When to Invest in Modern Web Design

Sure, the trends above sound cool. It’s fun to imagine your website visitors experiencing a mind-blowing 3D interaction on your site, or forwarding your page to their friends to share your innovative new design.

But, as with anything tech-related, when something is “cool,” you can probably also guess that it’s going to be costly. Ask yourself the questions below to determine whether or not investing in the trends described above makes sense for your company:


What does my website need to do?

If you’re, say, Tesla, your website needs to be top-notch, technically. When you’re basing your entire brand on innovation, a website that’s perceived as being out-of-date creates cognitive dissonance with the image you’re trying to cultivate.

If, on the other hand, you’re a local dentist using your site to attract new patients to your practice, you may not need all the same bells and whistles to achieve your site’s primary purpose. Yes, you’ll still want your site to appear current, but the changes you need to make to get to that point may be far less-involved than what you’ll need to do to be seen as a design and technology leader.

What’s my budget?

No discussion of modern website design would be complete without the question of budget.

Certainly, it’s easy to see that some of the more complex trends described above will take more time, money and other resources to implement. But even smaller changes – such as updating your site’s structure or introducing a different color scheme – can come with a cost if you aren’t using a template-based Website Builder where you can make these tweaks quickly.

One good approach is to tie the estimated cost of your proposed design updates to the expected increase in revenue it’ll generate. Spending $10,000 on website updates that might earn you one new customer a month who will bring in $500 doesn’t make sense. However, if a $5,000 change could double your revenue from $5,000 to $10,000 monthly, the investment makes more sense.

What expectations exist in my industry?

Finally, consider what’s standard within your industry. Wearable technology providers like Fitbit and Jawbone, for example, couldn’t get away with sites that appear outdated. If you were entering the market, standards would be high for your website as well.

Contrast that with the website needs of an HVAC company, landscaping service or funeral home. It’s not that these companies couldn’t have modern websites encompassing all of the trends described above; however, it might mean that investing significant time or money into site updates doesn’t make sense if one of the primary functions of the companies’ web presences is to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Decisions about how and when to pursue a more modern web design don’t occur in a vacuum. Instead, your answers to the questions above will help you decide when it’s time to update your website – and when it’s better to invest your marketing dollars elsewhere.

What other modern web designs are you seeing this year? Leave us a note in the comments below with your favorite site designs of 2017 (so far):