As more and more of our purchases continue to migrate online, the need for increasing conversions continues to rise. Nowadays, a business’ online presence can be considered one of the most important determinants of its success.

In this fight to turn on-site clicks into purchases, web design has proven to be a powerful weapon to wield. We all know that conversions are, to some degree, driven by a site’s design, yet the degree to which this is true is higher than most expect.

Good web design is the equivalent of having a tidy and attractive physical store. Creating a presentable website, with beautiful, thought-out, user-oriented design goes a long way in converting site visits into purchases.

As we analyze this year’s trends in web design, we notice the rise of alternative strategies which aim to improve other aspects of a website apart from aesthetics alone.

This rise shows us that crafting experiences is becoming a higher priority for web designers. The trends we will be talking about and breaking down inform our recommendations for best practices, and range from increasing loading speeds to establishing content campaigns.

Many businesses have come to realize that improving user engagement through various avenues such as powerful storytelling, smart design, and website optimization leads to happier and more loyal customers, which in turn increases revenue and conversions. Here’s what we learned from these three trends.

Powerful Storytelling

People have been craving stories ever since the beginning of humankind. As clients, we no longer simply wish to purchase something and get on with it. Customers want to know more about what they are buying, and who they are buying from. Creating engaging content is a way of telling a story about your company, which will allow your visitors to establish a relationship with what your company stands for and what it does.

It is through brand storytelling that companies get to engage with the consumer and communicate their background, ambitions, and outlooks. Companies such as Coca-Cola have been doing this for ages, managing to bring their history into marketing campaigns many times.

This year, many companies have put in place strategies to engage with online visitors through storytelling, as they learn that customers want to know why a company came into being, the motivations it responds to, and even how they create the products or services on offer. Creating campaigns that focus on telling these stories about your brand will put a face on your business, and get users to engage with what you do.

Engaging content can take many forms. Some companies have opted for blogs, where regular contributions enable them to give users an inside look into operations and their history. Others have focused on creating engaging video content such as vlogs and YouTube product reviews.

Regardless of the chosen medium, establishing successful content campaigns has changed the way businesses relate to customers. According to research compiled by Design Advisor, SweetGeorgia, an artisan yarn company, managed to increase revenue by 22% in a year after working to improve content and increase user engagement.

According to research compiled by Design Advisor, SweetGeorgia, an artisan yarn company, managed to increase revenue by 22% in a year after working to improve content and increase user engagement.Click To Tweet

Regardless of what you sell, there’s always a story to tell about your product or service. Be it how you came up with the business, how you operate on a day to day basis, or even what your product is and how you develop it. 82% of consumers trust a company after reading its custom content, so simply writing an “About us” page or maintaining a blog can go a long way in establishing that trust.

Storytelling isn’t only about the message itself but also hinges heavily on how you present the information. For instance, PCRM, a Vancouver-based fertility clinic, managed to increase mobile traffic by 40%, organic search by 19% and social referral by 1624% by establishing a branded storytelling campaign and improving the aesthetics of their user experience.

PCRM, a Vancouver-based fertility clinic, managed to increase mobile traffic by 40%, organic search by 19% and social referral by 1624% by establishing a branded storytelling campaign and improving the aesthetics of their user experience.Click To Tweet

Smart Design

As more and more people get savvy about design and increase time spent online, standing out from the crowd can become incredibly difficult. However, smart design is not the same as pretty design. As users demand more out of sites, those in charge of designing these websites must incorporate a smart design that catches the eye without losing out on efficiency.

Businesses such as online stores have engaged with smart design as they attempt to catch users with aesthetics without becoming a cumbersome user experience. Start by thinking of your site’s aesthetics, since almost 40% percent of users will not engage with a website if they don’t find it attractive. You can play around with illustrations, brutalist design, organic and oblique shapes; several of the new aesthetics we are seeing pop up online.

After deciding on aesthetics, attention should be paid to interaction and engagement. For example, simply encouraging users to scroll, instead of presenting them with boxy and cluttered screens has been shown to improve the user experience.

Users are drawn to design that responds to their specific needs. That is website design which allows users to intuitively navigate, without losing time trying to look for information. As a response, web designers are aiming to simplify user experiences by reducing clutter and allowing for easy access to information. This is becoming a key to increasing conversions since most users will simply move on to another site if they cannot find information that they consider should be readily available.

Along with that, smart design has had to adapt to the challenges of a diversifying tech market. As users are increasingly ditching their laptops and desktops for mobile devices, businesses are prioritizing mobile responsiveness when designing their online presence.

If a business’ website is not optimized for mobile users, more than half will take it as a sign that the company has not invested enough time and effort into crafting the experience. Small businesses are at an increased risk for this since more than 90% of small business websites do not have responsive design.

Optimization

Most of the work associated with optimizing a site involves trying to catch up with the trends and changes of the fast-paced world of web design. As customers become accustomed to a certain level of quality and expect an effortless user experience, web design continues to strive for faster, easier, and more responsive websites.

Website optimization can be approached in different ways. From a complete website overhaul to smaller, more incremental changes that still cause an impact and turn web design investments into revenue.

For example, loading time speeds can be tweaked by decreasing the size of your website, and even small changes can impact returns heavily. User expectations in this area are high: most users believe that sites should not take longer than two seconds to load. Meeting such high expectations can be costly, as some estimates (according to kissmetrics) establish that a 1-second delay can cause a company a 7% reduction in conversions. Websites are quickly catching on to this. For example, by tweaking their site and reducing loading time by 5 seconds, Shopzilla managed to increase their conversion by up to 12%.

By tweaking their site and reducing loading time by 5 seconds, Shopzilla managed to increase their conversion by up to 12%.Click To Tweet

Optimization trends have not centered exclusively on speed, though. Many businesses are now aiming to improve other aspects of their online presentation, such as continuous testing practices, in order to ensure that their site is working correctly.

Optimizing a website by fixing bugs and streamlining its processes can mean a jump in visits and on-site clicks by more than 100%. These tweaks are, for the most part, easy to carry out and their returns in the form of successful conversions can be impressively high.

Most of these required optimizations can be carried out easily by setting up regular testing schedules and following them to make sure design is up to speed. Disregarding maintenance can end up costing businesses real money, as users who encounter missing pages, unresponsive sites or broken links are highly likely to stop trusting a site. These practices are now changing for the better.

Conclusions

Under the bonnet of branded storytelling, smart design, and optimization lie many practices that businesses have been starting to implement to improve the way they engage with their customers.

When we boil down these facts and recommendations a lasting takeaway emerges – users want things fast and easy. At the same time, this does not mean that they are looking for rustic or oversimplified sites, as online audiences are becoming increasingly receptive to engaging with brands, hearing their stories and what they have to say about their products and services. The way these current trends are panning out, we can expect web design to continue the path of becoming increasingly a way of crafting experiences rather than simply creating functional websites.

About the Author: Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at designadvisor.net. With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies. When his focus trails outside of community engagement, Josh enjoys the indulgences of writing amidst the nature conservations of Portland, Oregon.

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