Website trends 2019

20 December, 2018

One of our favourite websites is four years old which in web terms is middle-aged. But the shortlisting panel for this year’s Web Awards loved it because the design is simple and it hasn’t dated. It didn’t make the final shortlist for Best Visual Design but it went on to win another category.

But websites can date quickly so knowing the difference between a trend and a passing fad will help ensure it looks great for several years at least.

So what are the trends?

Video backgrounds

Bennetts Associates won Best Mobile Experience in 2018

 

We started seeing video backgrounds  in 2017 and they are still an incredibly popular trend going into 2019.

For architects, the reasons are pretty simple.

First, seeing a building with people moving through it gives a more vivid representation of what a client can expect to experience than a static image. Secondly, it’s a quick way of expressing your design approach and finally, when someone lands on your site and there’s a video playing, they’re more likely to spend time watching it, which in turn helps your SEO and pushes your practice further up search rankings.

However – a word of warning. With speed being a huge factor, video can slow down loading times and this will impact user engagement. Making someone wait more that seven seconds before they see anything is now deemed unacceptable.

 

360-degree animation

Although more practices are creating 360-degree imagery, it’s still unusual to see it being shared on websites.

We first saw this in 2017 and not a great deal has changed partly we suspect because the imagery itself can be a bit crude. But as the technology improves and more practices invest in VR, it’s a trend we think will accelerate in 2019.

Micro-animations

Websites are increasingly using micro-movements to draw attention or change the meaning of a button when the cursor moves over it .We noticed this in some entrants this year and we expect to see more in 2019.

 

AI-driven customer service 

 

Amos Goldreich Architects is one of the few practices with a bot on its website

 

A few architects such as Amos Goldreich Architecture, are already implementing chat functionality into their website but in 2019 more will follow as the technology is perfected.

Architects may wonder how a chatbot on their website can possibly help their practice – with some justification. But you can now customise the bot to reflect your ‘voice’ and send message to your customers.

It will take time for architects see a bot’s value but if you are planning to redesign your website in 2019 it is worth thinking about including them in your design.

 

Video

Architects like video but they’re not pushing the medium as far as they could. The trend is for professionally made films for PR purposes rather than engaging stories about the lives of the people who use buildings such as we saw in 2017.

However, video does not have to be expensive and we hope to see more architects try features like IGTV  that are free.

 

Analytics

We have always been concerned about architects’ lack of attention when it comes to analytics. Websites have improved vastly but few have provided metrics to show the impact on traffic.

This is changing slowly – 25% of all entries in 2018 provided some metrics – and the resulting stats are impressive. After a redesign, practices reported that traffic had tripled and sometimes quadrupled and bounce rates dropped by half.

 

Social Media

We have banged this drum for sometime and while our winner this year is exemplary in its use of different social media platforms, most practices use social media for self – promotion. There is nothing inherently wrong in this – Twitter remains the most effective platform for sharing news, but in 2018 clients started asking for building designs that are ‘Instagrammable”.

Architects use Instagram to talk to each other but in 2019 they may want to re-think this approach and use it as others do, for marketing their services. For inspiration, take a look at how Airbnb use Instagram.

And finally…

 

Split screens

Heatherwick Studios won the Best Visual Design category

We love split screens though the trend been around for a few years. A few architects tried it in 2017 and it still looks fresh on both desktop and mobile devices (the split content stacks equally well on the mobile) and with an additional top layer of text it creates a depth that’s missing from more conventional homepages that still use a carousel or grid-based layout.

The flip side is simplicity. Websites are becoming simpler for better mobile and quick loading experience but image-free websites are not an option for architects- yet.