Villing & Company

Observations on Contemporary Web Look and Functionality

If you’re reading this post, you may have noticed that things look a little different around here. We’ve recently launched a brand new Villing & Company website, and you may not quite be used to it yet. A great deal of time and effort went into the strategy behind this new site. If you’re looking to update your website, here are a few things we considered as we went through the process.

Great websites have a look and feel these days that's quite distinct from how they looked and felt five years ago. Like most complex things, the Internet is an organism in a constant state of evolution, adapting to survive in the current technological climate and, hopefully, transforming into something better. As technology changes, websites must change with it, which mean that while some of the concerns of developers five years ago have vanished, new ones have arisen. A number of things have contributed to the changes on the functionality end, but trends in visual design have played a major role as well. The major shift in users from laptops and computers to smaller devices like phones and tablets is no secret, and it has had an enormous impact on the things designers and developers must consider when building websites. The end result is that great contemporary websites are less cluttered and draw more of their logic from mobile apps than websites of years past. Here are some major trends among forward-thinking, award winning sites:

  • Wall-to-wall content – More than ever, sites are made to fill the space they exist in. Except on very large monitors, many high-end sites are designed edge-to-edge and typically don't employ the gutters of the past.
  • Responsive design – The era of designing separate mobile and non-mobile websites is bygone. These days, best practices dictate that making a single dynamically resizable and re-orientable site that works and looks great across all platforms is essential.
  • Full screen or large video – Both as a looping design element with no sound or longer format pieces are being displayed on websites more and more. This arises out of a desire for simple, uncluttered user experience across platforms combined with advances in browser technology.
  • Video used as design elements – Instead of static images, subtly animated cinemagraphics (a more elegant form of animated GIFs) and all-out full motion video are being used more and more to add visual interest to sites, often as backgrounds under copy and other graphics.
  • Menu icons with hidden menu – While many sites maintain the menu in full view, the overwhelming trend pulls from app culture and hides the menu using an icon which can be tapped to quickly access categories.
  • Vertical scrolling layout – Tall and lean is the main choice. Rarely is side to side scrolling employed over tall vertical, scrolling homepage layouts.
  • Infographic-inspired design – The look of heavily designed, rich infographics seems to have trickled over to the web, probably as a result of the emphasis on vertical scrolling which lends itself to the typical tall, thin shape of infographic designs.
  • Parallaxing images and design elements – As you scroll down, images and graphics also move up slightly at different rates creating a slick yet subtle effect not unlike parallaxing tricks in filmmaking in which a camera both zooms in and dollies out at the same time.
  • Fields of alternating background color – In order to section off areas in a long scrolling format, different colored background or shifts in design choices often serve to break up sections or pieces of the message.

No doubt the form and function of the web will continue to evolve and likely end up much different five years from now. It's our job to pay attention and change with it.

Filed Under: web

Villing & Company

Villing & Co
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130 S Main St, Suite 315
South Bend IN 46601

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