As with all years that precede it since the advent of the internet and the birth of the first website, 2019 web design predictions are all over the place. Some are saying that three-dimensional illustrations are coming back, yet others say that flat designs are still where brands should focus. We can’t forget the ever-present minimalistic design that champions white space and places the spotlight on what’s really important either. And then there are web development trends for 2019 that focus more on the technical, such as adopting a responsive design and opting for a website that’s optimized for voice and visual search.
Whatever web design trends 2019 will bring, you have to know what they are so you can use them or consider their impact on your brand and its competitors. That’s why our goal for today is to cover seven website trends for 2019 so you can be prepared and make the most of them.
1. Mobile Optimization
It’s a shame that in 2019 we still have to make a case for mobile optimization and convince those who still have not made the change to do so. And yet, here we are. The fact of the matter is that more people access the internet through a mobile device than a desktop. If that’s not enough, couple that with another fact: accessing mobile unoptimized sites on mobile devices leads to issues like improperly rendered content and long load times. When you combine these, you arrive at the conclusion that mobile users who land on a desktop site will bounce as soon as they arrived… if they even arrive and don’t give up prematurely because the page took too long to load, that is. Because of this, and because you want your users to have an optimal experience, i.e. you want user experience (UX) to be as high as possible, you should update your website and redesign it to not only be mobile friendly, but to also have a responsive design that resizes all content according to the screen it resides in.
2. Speed and Page Load Times
Hot off the heels of mobile optimization is your website’s speed and page load times, both of which affect your website’s overall ranking on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. In years past, we were so happy to have the internet that it didn’t matter if we had to wait a couple of minutes for a page to load or for someone to get off the phone and let us browse in peace. Well, times changes and things are different today. With the rapid improvement in technology that has given us near-instant internet access comes the frustration at arriving at a page that takes a couple of seconds to load. To remedy this, make sure to use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights when you redesign your website to know with certainty what you can do to improve your speed. For example, you may have improperly sized images, unused CSS that needs to be deferred, render-blocking resources, or a myriad of other issues that need to be rectified ASAP.
3. Voice Search Optimization
The proliferation and rapid dissemination of smartphones and smart speakers across the general population in recent years has given rise to numerous things. For example, the wide adoption of digital assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. This, in turn, has led to an interesting turn of events with how we interact with technology… literally. In the days before Siri and Alexa, we used to manually do everything. We searched with our thumbs, controlled appliances by walking up and interacting with them (if there’s no remote, that is), and did things as we were used to doing them for years. Then came a leap in technology that allowed us to control pretty much everything with the sound of our voice through digital assistants. With this capability, we were able to change the volume on the TV with a command, set reminders with a couple of words, and search the internet with a simple voiced question. In other words, we gained the ability to voice search, and you gained the opportunity to improve your brand by redesigning your website and optimizing it for voice search.
4. Visual Search Optimization
Like voice search, visual search is a rather new search method people all over the world are using to find what they want with more ease than ever before. As a quick disclaimer, even though we’ve had some sort of visual search capabilities for a couple of years now thanks to Google’s Image Search, we’re now seeing an increase in capabilities and the adoption of this technology by brands like ASOS, eBay and Pinterest. For you, this means you might want to consider a 2019 web design change to include this feature and let your audience find you organically with more than just normal search.
One of the most popular web technology trends for 2019 is to implement a chatbot on your website, app or social channel. A little background information, chatbots are AI-backed programs that use machine learning, natural learning processing and other AI facets to create a “persona” that can act and talk like a real human being. Some are more sophisticated than others, but all can act as 24/7 customer and sales representatives that reside in your digital properties and take care of your users when you can’t. For instance, take a look at Sephora’s chatbot on Kik, Whole Foods’ on Facebook Messenger, or Starbucks’ on their own app.
6. Alternative Text and Non-Text Content
Alt text, also called alt tags, alt descriptions or alt attributes, is text that acts as a replacement for images if a screen reader is being used, or if they fail to load. If you’re not already using alt text throughout your site, you should do so for a couple of reason. First, alt text lets search engine bots know what your images are depicting, which will help you in your SEO efforts. Second, if someone with a disability is accessing your site, i.e. if they’re using a screen reader, you need to be able to serve them the same content you serve your other users.
Similar to alt text, you also need to include text alternatives like braille, speech and large print, which all work well for non-text content like videos and audio recordings. In doing so, you should provide the content in two forms: long that covers the information in full, and short that covers everything, albeit in a brief overview.
7. Screen Reader Support
Finally, like the last point, you should also consider offering support for screen readers, which are programs/features that allow blind or visually impaired individuals to read and understand the content. To this end, you’ll have to include alt text for your content to the screen readers can tell your users what your images depict, and make sure that all elements of your website are labeled with their functions, especially if they’re an interactive element. For example, if a window can be closed by clicking on the ‘X’ in the corner, you need to label it as such. Otherwise, someone who can’t see properly won’t know that they can close such a window with that action.
Preparing for a new year is always easier once you know what to expect, which is why we covered a couple of website design tips and tricks for 2019. Let’s take a second look:
- Mobile Optimization
- Speed and Page Load Times
- Voice Search Optimization
- Visual Search Optimization
- Alternative Text and Non-Text Content
- Screen Reader Support