Website Design Styles Simplified
Website designers need to know whats in style when they design your small business website. Just like art has a distinctive style, so do websites.
The website design styles are heavily influenced by the top three: Google, Microsoft, and Apple. They influence popular design styles by incorporating objects and even typeface into their websites that drive the trendy design styles. Website designers choose either to follow the latest trends so they can compete, or risk creating their own style and hope that their clients like it.
What are the top three different website styles now?
There’s flat design, skeuomorphism, and Material Design.
Early Flat design also known as flat 2.0, adheres strictly to a minimalist approach to design by using lighter typefaces that are easier to read, and by including flat 2D objects into the design. Flat design molds its objects for simplicity without creating a 3D appearance. It relies on the users knowledge to interpret what the drawn object in the website is.
For instance, look at the camera in an older Apple iPhone compared to that camera today. The camera has been simplified, without taking lighting or effects into account, such as adding shadows, or mimicking light skimming across the surface.
Some designers hate flat design because they think it lacks creativity. They prefer the next design style called skeuomorphism, which was popular when websites were first born.
Skeuomorphism is the concept of bringing in objects with visual familiarity such as a real old fashioned clock. The goal is to show it as a 3d clock and make it more dynamic by adding rich textures or shadows to mimic the real original clock. The 3D elements can include having the glass of the clock pop put at the user in 3D form. Having that rich design technique makes your website stand out from the “boring” flat design that’s so popular today. But, why did flat design evolve to begin with? We need it because what’s important today is having responsive design. To earn about responsive design, please read my FAQ. Given the increase in mobile searches its more important today to have your website scale down to the mobile size while maintaining its rich appearance. Flat design solves the weight problem of heavy graphics that interrupt the responsive design flow.
The big leader, Google, has an article about Material Design, which is basically a compromise of flat design with some Skeuomorphism elements added to objects on your website. It is a compromise and works by manipulating the Y axis to add 3D depth to flat objects without going into full skeuomorphism. This design also looks at an object to see how it responds to light and movement to give visual clues so you can add those elements, again without going into full skeuomorphism. Material design seeks to blend the best of both worlds to give your website the benefit of good visual elements with responsive design abilities. If you have the budget for it, a great photographer can give you real objects, with professional lighting, and depth without having to manipulate drawn objects for any design. Just food for thought.
If designers ignored what the Big Three do and simply design in their own unique style, can they stay in business? Should designers just create whatever is in style so they can earn a living? Or has the answer come in the style called Material Design?
I believe website design is more about the sales messaging and the photography, and how you layout the messaging to make the eye go where you want it to go. (To learn about the 17 must have design elements for your small business, please read website-design-requirements.)