Design Trends That Convert: Learn From the Big Brands

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Design is a central element of successful branding. Robust and versatile design can give brands in decline a new lease of life. Here are the biggest design trends that are popular right now and which brands are successfully leveraging to engage their audience:

Video and Image background

Big images above the fold are increasingly popular not only with start-ups and design companies but also with brands in real estate, hospitality, and culinary, as well as small businesses and artisans who are making a bold brand statement with large above the fold, visual backgrounds.

Large images can be valuable in setting the tone for your site and introducing visitors to what they can expect from your brand. Video backgrounds are also rapidly replacing the conventional image slider. The use of HTML5 allows designers to use video above the fold to introduce an element of interactivity and storytelling.Video, as a design element makes a website less static and can boost visitors’ engagement. Companies that are using large images and video background for successful branding include Airbnb, TLC Baltimore, Yourkarma.com and Google Now.

Flat Design

Flat design has become a buzzword popularized by Microsoft and Apple’s mobile device interfaces. This design trend appeals to the consumers’ demand for a cleaner, lighter and minimalist user interface for both mobile devices and desktops. Flat design eliminates complex shadows, gradients and patterns instead leaving the interface with the bare minimum—linear shapes, clean lines and minimal colour usage.

This design trend also extends to logo execution with brands preferring single colors and simple, handwritten typography. Flat layouts are interactive but they serve to eliminate distractions, allowing brands to draw customers’ attention to the most compelling aspects of a product or service while leaving out everything that is non-essential to how the consumer experiences the brand. Microsoft, Hershey and Netflix are examples of brands that have adopted the flat design.

Continuous website scrolling and parallax

As more sites adopt a minimal design, there are fewer buttons and links to click, and more scrolling to do. Smart brands are using both infinite and parallax scrolling for storytelling and creating a dynamic brand experience that keeps website visitors continuously engaged.

Infinite scrolling entails appending web pages to allow the pages to load dynamically as the user gets to the bottom of one piece of content. The result is a long and continuous flow of content without the need to click to go to the next page.

Used appropriately, both parallax and infinite scrolling can provide an element of design depth. Rimmel London, Sony, Exsus, Von Dutch, Times Magazine and Spotify exemplify great parallax and infinite scrolling effects.

Typography

Web fonts have become more accessible, allowing designers to apply font pairing and an array of web fonts to liven up user interfaces. Typography is a powerful element of brand identity and image. From handwritten typography to textured fonts, brands are moving away from the conventional print fonts and experimenting with typography that is authentic and conveys the brand’s underlying message. For example, Triscuits and Chipotle have adopted textured typography for their logo, while Above and Beyond now use logotypes or word marks to offer a visually stimulating logo.

Responsive web design

The increased global usage of mobile has prompted companies to take a mobile-first approach as part of their marketing and branding efforts. More and more consumers are interacting with brands via mobile devices, making it necessary to create a first-rate, mobile friendly experience.

While responsive web design is fast becoming a best practice, the trend is largely toward customization to accommodate the different devices consumers are using to access retail sites. The minimalist trend is also prominent in mobile-friendly sites as well as in native apps. The trend toward responsiveness allows brands to improve user experience and, more importantly to create a strong brand experience for consumers.

Responsive/Interactive storytelling

Today’s consumer is less captivated by static or bland content. Instead, dynamic content that tells a compelling narrative, and that can be accessed at the consumers’ convenience is a better way for brands to capture their audiences’ fleeting attention.

Responsive storytelling is much like responsive design where users can access a brand’s narrative regardless of the format, across any device. Interactive storytelling as an element of design engages the user, allowing them to skip to different parts of the narrative and to dig down to the details that are most useful to them.

Parallax layouts, interactive infographs, data maps and charts are examples of the trend towards interactive storytelling. As a design element, interactive storytelling increases brand engagement, and communicates a strong brand image. Creative agency Shape, Costa Coffee and Alzheimer’s Research use innovative design elements to tell interactive and valuable stories.

Without a doubt, brands with the strongest, most memorable image are those that have effectively merged different design elements from the logo, images, typography, and layout to weave a compelling and unforgettable story. You’ll also find lots of help with web design over here.

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