Will Design Trends of 2014 Improve Conversion?

So we’re nearing the end of 2014 and its been a great year for design. Responsive design has almost become a standard, and flat design has really taken off. But how can these trends and others in 2014 help you convert users in terms of online marketing and landing pages? Like any online marketing strategy its all about your audience, but let’s dive deeper into some of this years trends and see if they are worth exploring for your CRO.

 

typography

Typography

It’s the most present thing on your site at all times. It sets the mood, and is at the heart of modern web design. Typography itself will always have micro trends, and there will always be theories on how using it one way or another is better for conversion. We will cover all of this. Helvetica, droid sans, garamond, and ubuntu just to name a few popular font faces have been widely used throughout 2014. Check out this article if you’re interested in some great opinions on how to choose typefaces for your clients.

In 2014 we’ve also seen it become widely acceptable for people to mix font faces. However just because its become slightly more acceptable, doesn’t mean you should go ahead and do it. Adobe has a nice reference guide on how to combine typefaces.

Does It Help Conversion?

Of course. How could it not. Naturally the copy itself plays a huge part, but a visitor won’t even bare through your copy no matter how well written it is, or how many hours you spent refining it. If it gives a user a headache to read, it’s useless. Your typefaces sets the tone for your site, which in turn directly affects how they perceive the message you’re trying to convey. There is a beautifully written in depth article on many aspects of typography and how it can affect conversions, with studies backing up all the points written by Ankit Oberioi.

The main things to take away from what Ankit Oberioi has talked about in his article in regards to conversion are:

  1. Don’t pick busy fonts, they won’t help sales, they will detract from your message.
  2. Your font needs to be one with your message, not detracting from it in any way.
  3. Pairing typefaces it tricky, stick to how they correspond and contrast. This is outlined in the adobe guide on how to combine typefaces, but in regards to conversion and sales, its best to keep it simple.
  4. Mixing and matching fonts, when done well, can be beautiful and mesmerizing while still retaining an elegant and prestigious feel. That being said, simplicity is king, especially when designing for conversion.
  5. The tone of your typeface should reflect your target audience.
  6. Make sure your typeface is legible and readable. This includes ensuring your typeface has large counters, and making sure the spacing and density of the words doesn’t give readers a headache.

In any design, your typeface conveys a mood and tone. When it comes to designing for conversion on landing pages or any other medium, this is especially true. You need to make sure the font you choose coincides with your message and directive, and doesn’t distract from it.

 

flat_design

Flat Design

Flat design is easily one of if not the biggest trend in web design of 2014 and we don’t see it disappearing anytime soon. In summary flat design is doing away with skeuomorphism in regards to trying to replicate a three dimensional space and embracing the screen for what it is, by focusing on flat colors, typography, and graphics. Nothing on a screen can ever truly mimic a three dimensional space, flat design in the answer to this. By embracing the mediums in which we view these designs, the designs themselves become more viewable. Making the UX and UI possibilities endless.

Examples:

 

Liberio

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Boldial WordPress Theme

 

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Does It Help Conversion?

That depends, again on your target audience. Keep in mind that many people have been used to seeing design that replicates a three dimensional space and at a glance, and know where to click because of it. That being said this is only a certain group of people. In terms of CRO its always been a best practice to remove unnecessary design elements and streamline your audience to a single goal, to convert. Removing unnecessary cluttering graphics, gradients, drop shadows, etc is what flat design is all about. It’s up to you, the online marketer, to establish weather or not your audience is ready for a design that completely embraces the new flat trend, or simply takes ques from it.

 

responsivedesign

Responsive Web Design

If you haven’t heard about responsive web design by now you’ve been living under a rock. It’s that simple. If you want an example make your browser window on this site smaller, or any popular site out there for that matter.

Does It Help Conversion?

It’s a relatively simple answer actually. For one, Google recommends responsive web design because “a single Googlebot user agent only needs to crawl your page once, rather than crawling multiple times with different Googlebot user agents to retrieve all versions of the content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your site’s content and keep it appropriately fresh.” This means your content will index faster, and in turn rank faster, attracting more traffic.

The real reason however, is much simpler. Mobile internet usage has now passed desktop internet usage. More people having access to your site or landing page simply means more conversions.

 

parallax

Parallax Scrolling

Ah yes the big trend that has been around since 2011. The trendy visually appealing way of presenting your content, bringing the user directly to the call to action flawlessly. Wrong. Don’t misunderstand me, myself and the other creatives at New Media Sources love parallax scrolling. When its done right, it can transform a website into an engaging creative storytelling experience that encapsulates the user.

Examples:

Cyclemon

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Tinke

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Does It Help Conversion?

Can a trend like parallax scrolling really have an effect on conversions? Answers to questions like these are always subjective and depend on your audience, and the message you’re trying to get across. However a case study done by webprofits.com ab tested a professionally designed site with professional sales copy writing, having a static variant, and a variant that animated elements as you scrolled for a service called bidmycar, an online solution to buying cars at a big discount. The results after three months showed “no significant difference in the conversion rate”. To be fair the ab test didn’t specifically test the parallax scrolling effect, but rather an animated scrolling effect. But overall the message in something like this is pretty clear.

Take a landing page template like this:

 

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Here we have a landing page with two parallax scrolling elements. The header image and the call to action at the bottom of the page. Both of these elements add nothing to a conversion centered design, and would not contribute to the overall message you would be trying to get across. If both of these elements where static images, it would make no difference.

In summary if you’re willing to invest resources into a very well thought out design and storyboard revolving around your message that was built on parallax scrolling, It would probably see solid conversions. This however is simply not worth the time and effort when designing a landing page or site without these elements would convert the same if not better, and take less time and resources to create.

 

honorablementions

Honorable mentions

Of course we haven’t covered all of the trends in 2014, just the ones that could be relevant or have an affect on conversions. However it’s important to mention the rise of CSS animations in general, the developer detested ambient video backgrounds, and full width content blocks. All three of which we will see more of in 2015. CSS animations we believe will play a big part in the “material design” Google will be pushing, we predict the web will start seeing this trend adapted in this next year. Merging with flat design, material design will give users a better sense of where everything is, and belongs, all while maintaining the visual appeal of flat design. Video is one of the most engaging mediums for users, as our browsers and hardware improve to the point where we can load large video files quickly, we see video backgrounds being relevant to conversion, if designed and targeted correctly. However at the moment we haven’t seen it be too relevant in terms of pushing the boundaries on improving conversions rates. As for full width content blocks, they’re awesome.

 

Cole Krahn

CRO obsessed designer and our in-house photographer. Find him on Twitter