Graphic Design Trends For 2021 & Beyond – Timeless Tactics

Web Design Trends Example: Website Load Time and Page Speed Are King

As we approach another new year, as designers we often seek to “stay on trend” with the latest strategies and implementations typically for a few reasons: Career advancement, competitive edge, and passion. While passion for design and evergreen learning in the field are arguably the most acceptable reasons for testing new waters, and staying current, annual trends are problematic, and no one seems to be talking about it.

With growing competition in the blog space for visual and digital design, annual trend posts are becoming a “right of passage” for new bloggers, and a “must write” cornerstone for existing blogs. The BIG PROBLEM is that trends come and go. Oftentimes, year after year close to 50% of the most written about design trends come to pass with little traction and implementation.

Many times these “trends” are better categorized as “schemes,” or “new things to try.” With many of the examples listed in these posts their rarely are websites that have data supporting their claims for Increased UX and conversion. Many of these sites have data that would lend itself against the trends listed. That’s Why I wrote this post.

I wanted to provide a list of visual design trends (mostly for web design, UI and UX) that are timeless in nature, and are not being utilized on a large scale across the web as much as you’d like to think. The truth is when it comes to visual design, especially on the internet, conversion matters. Everyone is selling something, even if it’s free.

Ideas are sold, whether that is an exchange of time or money is insignificant. So when you are designing something, heck anything that requires interaction, certain strategies are critical to implement in order to create compelling visual content.

This post was written to give web designers and visual creators alike, an evergreen checklist or “go-to” style guide for digital implementation of design that actually converts.

web design trends page speed

Just because google likes fast websites (yes I know this is an over-simplification), doesn’t mean it should be the only reason you keep your load time to a minimum. Website speed has more to do with ranking, it is a user experience (UX) necessity. And Guess What???? Unless your web page is for yourself only, UX is everything.

Moz lists tactics such as variable compression, code optimization, browser caching and more as key steps to take in order to reduce load time and increase page speed.

The future of web (this is a prediction) will be grounded in lean web architecture with super targeted content and small (front, back and integrated) stacks. Websites of today, and “tomorrow” should focus on their target market. As designers, we like to design for other designers, this is in a way a career designer mis-step and also just a bad habit.

We often like to push the limits of design and make websites that stand out from all the rest. While this is great from an innovation standpoint it bears little weight in the realm of efficiency and longevity.

Speed is an essential component of a website. It is no longer a tactic for SEO ranking, nor should it ever be. Speed helps you make a connection with your users and ultimately represents your business, brand, and product(s).

Content Accuracy

How to create goals for a content marketing strategy

While there are many forms of content, written, visual, infographic, video, animated, etc., the only type of content that you need to worry about is the type of content best suited for your market. The argument is easily made that the type of content you use should be indicative of the point you’re trying to make, but websites are not created to support arguments, they are created as a vessel for “arguments.”

In other words the content is the foundation, and the website (architecture) are the walls.

In order to create an effective website (one that converts) you must first create content that will connect with your target customer. The website surrounding that content is supported by the content’s purpose.

The visual information (can also be content, or supporting graphics/visuals) used should also exist as part of the content, even if it is only there to create a visual connection. Simply put, everything in a website is content.

Content accuracy is not as much about targeting as it is about connecting. Targeting should be handled in your marketing strategy, connecting with your customer starts at your website as it is often the first (if organic) point of contact. Every year you’ll find many websites boasting new visual design trends to use in web design that are “all the rage.”

What happens when we, as designers fall trap to these “design trends” is that we miss the point of visualization completely. We tend to look at visualization as supporting content, part of this is because SEO practices such as Alt Tags are more effective if they are relevant to the words on the page.

While this SEO practice is essential it is more of a utility framework for design implementation, meaning it is necessary to do but should not imply that what is being tagged is separate from the content (words in this case) itself.

The websites of today and of the future will rely on the success of how accurately their content is curated, created, and displayed. Designing content to connect to users is and will continue to be a key component of achieving low bounce rates, high SEO ranking, and consistent conversions.

Negative Space

Taking advantage of negative space in web design

Contrary to its name, Negative Space is a very positive thing, and will always be. While may designers will boast about the use of “dark mode” and “layered Photos,” the space opposite your content (often called white space) defines your site in its entirety.

Negative space gives life to positive space which is the subject of the space. This contrast is an essential and basic characteristic of visualization and is a key aspect of effective marketing.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a website that isn’t overwhelmed with sporadically placed content, even if its uniform in style, without it being deemed “minimalist” or “modern.” The truth is negative space creates focus. Negative space creates contrast. Regardless of the color scheme used or other “design trends” implemented, negative space gives light to what is most important, you’re content.

When you’re designing a website to be evergreen and user friendly, leading, padding, and framing are crucial principles to understand. Knowing that negative space is important is not enough. You must use space on the page to create focus of the subject.

Websites of today and beyond will likely be narrow margined, content focused “solutions.” What I mean by this is that the mentality of web design, and visual design trends will change from element driven (multiple factors, one goal) to result driven (conversion focused, integrated elements).

The best example of a timeless website that will always convert no matter what happens with google, is Jonathan Stark’s website, which has barely changed over the last few years, and likely won’t need to.

While there are more “design trends” that will likely last the test of time, the three I’ve briefly mentioned are crucial to understand and implement. If you can focus your content, leverage negative space while keeping page speed down you’ll be ahead of most designers no matter what year it is.

If your interested in getting a large variety of “timeless” design assets to help keep you up to par with the current design trends – Click Here

Infographic Design: Top 12 Design Strategies

The Best Strategies For Compelling Infographic Design

Infographic designs have taken off on the internet in the last few years.

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In an environment where everyone is bombarded with facts and news, infographic designs present information in a way that grabs the viewer’s attention. Your graphic design career will benefit greatly from understanding how to properly use infographics for your clients.

But the best infographics are deceptively simple. It takes a great deal of thought and effort to refine and perfect the presentation. A great infographic has:

1. A Defined Target Audience

Infographic design begins with considering the viewer you want to reach.

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A diabetes infographic aimed at physicians will communicate differently than one aimed at patients or the general public. Taking a few moments up front to create a detailed profile of the ideal viewer will guide decisions about everything from what content to include to what colors to use.

2. Useful Information 

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The most beautiful design will not help if the information communicated is boring, stale, or incorrect. A great infographic presents accurate facts about something the target audience genuinely cares about and wants to understand.

3. Emotional Connection

The emotional connection is what separates a great infographic from an average one.

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These are the ones that not only hold the viewer’s attention but makes them want to share it with friends and colleagues. The best emotional responses are positive, like wonder, curiosity, satisfaction, or amusement. 

4. Clean Design

An uncluttered design aesthetic is a key component to a great infographic.

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Images should be simplified and composed of a few geometric shapes. Vector graphics in eye-catching colors seem to work best and are preferable to raster graphics or photographs. Think in well-known symbols rather than portraits, such as a stethoscope rather than a stock photo of a doctor. Text should be in colors and fonts that stand out against the background and are easy to read.

5. Unified Appearance

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Colors, shapes, and fonts need to be consistent throughout. Switching up design elements or using too many different ones creates confusion in the viewer.

6. Clear Through-path

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The facts are ordered so that each idea follows and builds on the previous one. The viewer should not have to double back or re-read to fully grasp the content. The graphic elements support a clear direction so that the eye is drawn from one section to the next in a natural way. Most longer infographics require scrolling, so the movement of the layout should combine with interesting information to make the viewer automatically reach for the touchscreen or scrollbar to keep going.

7. Infographics to Present Statistics

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Statistics are some of the most compelling and convincing facts you can offer in support of an idea, but they can also be boring and repetitive. Graphs that show the statistics visually, especially in comparison to each other, can instantly communicate the equivalent of paragraphs of text. Simplified, highly visual graphs are best, so think bar graphs and pie charts, and steer clear of highly technical designs like scatter plots or heat maps.

8. Carefully Chosen Text

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Much of the information in an infographic comes through the graphic elements and the layout, so the text has to be carefully chosen and edited. Sentences are short and simple, and stick to one main idea, with a reading level appropriate to the target audience. 

9. Perfect Editing 

Many eyes should look over an infographic before it goes on a website or into print.

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Editors check for factual accuracy, grammatical and spelling errors, and typos. Design specialists evaluate the layout and color choices. People who are not involved in the creation of the infographic, preferably members of the target audience, are asked for feedback on how they understood and enjoyed the presentation.

10. Sources At The Bottom

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You don’t have to include sources with all infographics, but the more sophisticated the audience, the more they will want to know where a particular fact or statistic came from. It’s also important to credit sources of quotes or proprietary material to avoid copyright issues. Rather than inserting references in the main body, include a box at the bottom with a simple list. The people who want to know will find the references, without cluttering up the main presentation for everyone else.

11. Branding For The Sponsor

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Most infographics are intended as marketing for a company or organization, so the graphic itself should contain some kind of branding pointing back to the creator. This is especially important if the item goes viral and is widely shared, as the graphic itself will inevitably become detached from supporting material like a text introduction or headline. 

12. Easily Shareable Infographic Design

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A great infographic includes multiple options for sharing it to make it easier to go viral. Buttons and links to social media platforms and relevant hashtags are key components. The graphic should include embed codes to make it easy to publish on other websites. Text snippets and images should be composed and optimized by the infographic creator, not left to the whims of the person who shares it.

A simple and clear infographic has a great deal of complex thought and effort behind it. It may seem like something easy to create in-house, but for a truly spectacular presentation, it’s best to hire professionals to design it. A memorable infographic that goes viral will continue to pay dividends for your brand for months or even years. It’s worth the investment.

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