A website has become a vital piece of branding to any company with a target market under 60. When devising a concept for a new web identity, it is important to consider who will be visiting the site, the brand it is serving, and the information it has to display. Today, we took a look at some of the more popular styles of web design, and outlined their best and worst uses to maximize your website’s efficiency.
The ‘flat’ design trend is an emerging style of design that has been steadily increasing in popularity over the past few years. Flat websites are quite simple – backgrounds are bold, images are often flatten renditions or simply icons, and text is high in contrast and uses little-to-no additional styling or effects. Flat design is playful, and presents otherwise boring information in a fun and creative manner.
Flat websites are great for a few different purposes. Often used by software or advanced technical companies, they are great for simplifying information and presenting dull information, like specifications, in a more gripping way. Furthermore, the flat design trend is optimal for presenting efficient call-to-actions because of their high contrast and vibrant colours.
Though they are great for some purposes, flat websites can offer a number of restrictions. Flat design is not optimal for online stores, their little use of ‘real’ photographs will lose the interest of visitors looking to purchase ‘real’ products. Flat design is also not recommended for companies that have a high offline presence; if you have something real and interesting to show your customers – use a different style highlights these elements more effectively.
Integrated sites are some of the more complex websites that are designed today. These sites are visually stunning, and rely on a number of layers that act together to convey a single message. Integrated design also makes use of universal elements like arrows, lines and icons to improve the flow of the site. These elements are essential to guide the visitor’s eye onto vital elements as they scroll down the page.
Integrated websites are great for companies looking to make a visual impact as soon as their page loads. When executed correctly, their complexity can be great for displaying a lot of information through visual aspects and defining what your site is all about within a glance. They are often used with outdoorsy companies to emphasise the complexity of nature, and with the correct visual cues, can be used to display almost any premium product efficiently.
Integrated websites are great because they are so complex, but that same feature can become deadly to your site without the proper execution. Generally, only advanced developers can create an effective integrated website without it becoming too busy, ugly, slow or unresponsive. Have a clear creative concept and a library of interesting images if you’re going to tackle an integrated site without using a base theme.
Full width sites are one of the most popular styles of websites as they can serve almost any purpose and serve almost any brand. These sites are also known as boxed sites, as they are composed neatly out of multiple straight, horizontal sections. Though many websites today span the full width of the screen, these sites are unique in that their content is held within margin-less boxes that form a site together like building blocks.
Boxed sites are great for displaying information and images together in a neat and easy way. Their full width layout maximizes the use of space and the simple, building block layouts makes these optimal for beginners or do-it-yourselfers. When executed correctly, full width websites can effectively guide the visitor’s eye down the page and deeper into the site. Their symmetry and simplicity makes these sites great for a number of applications including service-based businesses, online stores and simply presenting information.
There are very few applications where this style of design will not fit a brand. If you are an edgy brand define yourself upon being different, it may be a good idea to look into a different style, though a completely unique experience can still be achieved with a boxed website.
The flow style of web design is fairly similar to integrated in that they both present content in a less formal and consistent manner. However, flow websites rely less on complex layering and make a specified visual impact simply using background elements. Flow websites generally make use of abstract angles and contrasting colours that guide the visitor’s eye down the page, hence the name “flow” (the way your eye moves through a composition).
Flow style of design can be great for a number of uses, they are often used with unique companies that don’t fit the ‘norms’ of their industry. The abstract geometry is an optimal way to let visitors know that you’re different right off the bat. They are also great for single page designs, as the enhanced flow elements can lead visitors to the bottom of the page, going through all of your content.
Flow websites are fairly abstract, and can limit the possibilities of your design. These are not recommended for sites with a large number of pages as it will become increasingly difficult to differentiate each as quantities increase. Furthermore, flow websites are not recommended for conservative or highly formal companies, as the elements and style are contradictory to this style of brand.
Minimal websites are exactly what they sound like – they present a minimal amount of information and utilize minimal design elements. These sites often utilize a single colour pallet for the entire design –generally just a background, text, and accent colour. The elements of a minimal site are sharp and formal (utilizes all right angles), and rely heavily on the use of negative space to call attention to the content.
Minimal web designs are great for companies with a simple message to convey. The purpose of the minimalist movement in art is to strip away all of the unnecessary information and be left with a clear, concise meaning. It is very similar with minimal websites – the content is stripped until you are left with the bare essentials. This can be effective for companies that focus less on added features and more on the single intended use of their products. Minimal websites can also be more effective when targeting women, and are often used for women’s clothing or accessory lines.
Minimal website can be a gamble. It can be very difficult to strip information down to the bare essentials without removing too much. There must also be a clear, creative vision in mind, as it is easy for a minimal site to simply look ‘lazy’ without the proper execution and creative choices. Minimal sites are also unideal for companies that focus on bringing added features and increased usability to a product.
Portfolio-styled pages have become more popular over the past couple of years. These sites essentially use small building blocks to compose a page design and layout. These sites put a lot of emphasis on images, generally paired with little more than a title. Portfolio-styled pages are great for naturally promoting movement onto different pages, as each cell is essentially just a link.
A portfolio-styled page is essentially a visual menu – these can be great for use on a homepage or landing page to drive traffic further into the site and onto specific pages. This has made them optimal for online stores as they can visually and efficiently display a vast number of products. They are also effective when used for blogs front pages, and of course, portfolios.
It is important to use your judgement on this, portfolio-styled pages are great for replacing boring menus and generating deeper traffic, but they should be limited for use to only those purposes. They are not useful to display any vital information – and should never be used on every page of a website.
Thank you for reading, we hope you can apply this knowledge to your own web project. Remember, we build sites for a living… If you have any questions, feel free to contact us here!