Although it’s still early in 2012, the importance of visual storytelling is clearly one of the year’s breakout trends. Facebook Timeline, Pinterest, and Instagram are forcing brands to think and act more visually. Couple that with the impact of mobile browsing, and these emerging trends give new meaning to the phrase “show, don’t tell.”
In other words, the “beautification of the web” era is upon us. How does this shift toward visual storytelling impact your content marketing plan? Let’s explore some trends that illustrate where we are and where we’re going.
Apps Are Leading the Way
Flipboard’s design made people think about content consumption differently. Path showed us how stunning app design impacts the user experience. Instagram’s filters added creativity, style, and aesthetics to photos, which helped evoke more emotion and a stronger response from viewers. The to-do app Clear showed us how navigation is becoming obsolete.
The strategic emphasis on the intuitive design of these services contributed to their popularity and fast growth. As a result, app design is forcing web-based designers to be more innovative and creative. Just look at some of today’s up-and-comers. For companies like AirBnB and Kickstarter design is a critical pillar of their overall brand experience. It’s part of their success, and the rest of the web has taken note.
That’s why Google and Facebook are no longer just buying technology, they’re hiring designers who can create visually rich and memorable experiences. Even Microsoft is refocusing on design. That’s because forward-thinking businesses know that good design is good for business.
Special Effects Are a Key Factor
Users continue to spend more time on tablets and smartphones, leaving behind the archaic desktop navigation paradigms of the early 2000s. This shift has led to a new crop of slick web designs that feature more complex interactions and visual effects, thanks to technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3.
For example, we’re seeing more interactive buttons, sliding and fading visual elements, parallax experiences on scrolling sites, and even elements of augmented reality. The list goes on and on.
A Variety of Browsing Experiences is the New Norm
A wide range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, and televisions allow users to view web-based content. When designing websites, it’s imperative to account for these various browsing experiences.
Instead of creating a website for desktop viewing and a parallel site for mobile browsing, a responsive design adjusts based on the viewer’s screen of choice. The content a viewer sees depends on how they’re accessing the site. For example, desktop browsers may get the full experience, while mobile users may see more “task-oriented” content and minimal design.
Less is More
Tumblr is known for its minimalist, user-friendly design — an attraction that’s led to the creation of 50+ million blogs on its platform. In fact, that “less is more” approach to design is popping up across the web.
Other great examples of this include Simple, Square, and Dropbox. Simple, a new online banking platform, has a largely page-free website. One main page serves as a point-of-interaction to guide you through their story and sign-up process. Square’s slide-based site gets right to the point and simply shows you how the product functions with imagery and very little text. Dropbox’s cloud storage system embraces a “Google-esque” minimalism.
In each case, ease of use is a priority. Why? Simply put, sites that are intuitive and easy to use inherently create a memorable experience that can enhance user loyalty and word of mouth marketing. Dieter Rams said that “good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.” As designers we need to make it easy for users to do what they need to do in a fast, responsive, and intuitive way, thus producing higher satisfaction.
Beautification is the Future
The beautification of the web is also good news for startups. The old web was based on design standards born in the newspaper and magazine industries. Today, we’re in the midst of a renaissance that puts the online and mobile experiences first. This ever-growing array of connected devices point to a future where users will understand and appreciate a more cohesive and intuitive interface.
As we’re already beginning to see, companies that innovate their approach to design will be rewarded with new growth opportunities. Companies like Pinterest, Instagram, and others have shown that design can differentiate a company from its’ competition, and create the kind of user loyalty that is priceless.
Read the whole story on Mashable: http://mashable.com/2012/04/25/web-design-future-content-marketing/