Adam Fisher
31st October 2018 - 5 mins read
S

o, we’ve boiled these trends down to the ones you simply cannot afford to ignore.

Here, Thirty Seven’s digital designer Tom Sykes takes you through the website design trends you really need to know.

 

Accessibility

It might sound simple, but one of the key trends so far in 2018 has been a move towards making website content easier to read.

A back to basics ethos has seen an increasing number of websites adopt a pure black on pure white approach to text.

Larger fonts and bigger headlines have also become increasingly popular.

“For a while, many websites suffered from a sort of design for the sake of design approach,” said Tom.

“But now the focus is much more on the readability of the content. We are not seeing coloured text on coloured backgrounds anymore and in many cases design has been stripped to a minimum, so that there isn’t stuff around the website which could detract the user away from what they came to the site to do.”

Tom cites the redesigned Dropbox website as a strong example of this new approach, particularly the move to bigger headlines.

He said: “The Dropbox typeface – ‘grotesque’ - is something I think we will see more of. It’s a wide typeface and is aesthetically pleasing, but that does not detract from the readability.”


Bold colours

2018 is the year for going bold with colour.

Websites are currently being designed with vibrant, bright colours.

And colour gradients are making a comeback after years of being shunned by designers. In fact, the two-colour effect is back in a big way.

Tom said: “We are seeing a move from safe and subtle colours to bold and bright ones. Designers are playing more with colours, are trying more things and are just being more courageous.

And part of this playing with colour had seen gradients begin to appear on websites everywhere.”

Tom is a particular fan of the vibrant colours used on the Sketch website which enables the company’s gold gem logo to really stand-out.

The Premier League is another website which has embraced a bold palette, combining a strong purple with flashes of bright pink – not necessarily colours you would associate with football, but certainly visually effective.

 

Playfulness

Another emerging trend is brands trying to ensure their websites better reflect their personalities.

This has seen a move away from the more formal, professional language, typically seen on websites to a more light-hearted, fun, product-focused style.

“This is an approach we are seeing a lot of start-up companies take and it is helping them to find their footing and forge their identity”, said Tom.

“I think there is growing realisation that highly formal copy doesn’t always successfully draw in customers in 2018. It is a move that is being driven by millennials who are growing up and driving the market. They want to feel brands are being genuine with them. 

“The Product Hunt website is a great example of this. It uses humorous language, makes jokes and even uses emojis. It basically uses the same language as those who visit the website.”

Of course, this approach won’t work for everyone and you would probably be unlikely to buy healthcare insurance from a website which used emojis, for example. But it is certainly something brands should consider.

This playfulness trend is also seeing more illustration being used on websites with custom drawings also helping to bring a human touch and highlight personality.

 

Animation

Animation is rapidly becoming the new norm in website design with a growing number of companies using it to help bring ideas and products to life.

Increasingly websites use animation to enable them to show products from every possible angle.

Tom said: “There are thousands of videos on social media and when you scroll down your feed and they start playing they can draw you in.

“Animation on a website can bring that same focus to products. Instead of static images, customers are able to see the whole product and they get a much better idea of what they are potentially buying.”

Apple uses a lot of animation on its website, allowing customers to view products from numerous different angles.

But it is not just about products. Animated logos are becoming a growing trend and we increasingly seeing logos that spin, transform, expand or even appear to be hand drawn.

They are eye-catching and often memorable and that can give brands an important edge.

The Sketch website that we mentioned earlier in this blog is a great example of animation – when the homepage completes animating it looks totally different from how it started, where it shows an overview of the software, and instead features the latest feature updates.

It is also an approach we have taken on our own website, where the Thirty Seven logo changes colour as you scroll down the page.

Animation can bring great focus to a product and allow your customers to view it from multiple angles. This can even sway their decision to purchase. - Via @37agency

 

Unorthodox design

Another key trend is the move away from typical website designs.

The familiar ‘hamburger menu’ – the three-pronged menu icon – has been a staple diet for websites for years.

But appetites are changing and websites are now being designed which take very different approaches to navigation.

“We are now seeing websites where the user is really encouraged to look at it and almost have to learn what it does and where they should go,” said Tom.

“It is about encouraging users to be curious and explore in a way that traditional navigation would not really facilitate.

“Obviously, you don’t want to go too far because you want to ensure they get what they came to the website for, but it is about encouraging them to have more fun with the site.”

This move away from typical website patterns is seeing a rise in highly focused homepages with full-screen displays that just depict one product, rather than long scrolling pages.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper. 

Marketing

Why journalistic principles are key to producing case studies that resonate

Charles Abel 25th February 2020 — 6 mins read
Y

ou’ll notice I’ve left the caps lock on when I’ve written the TRUTH. That is because it is an acronym used to describe what the term ‘newsworthy’ means.

And it also applies to case studies. You can read more about what it stands for in this recent blog, but for now I want to focus on just two elements of it which are crucial for writing convincing, authentic, memorable and believable case studies.

 

Trouble

When we think about the testimonials and case studies we read when we are looking to buy something, they are often little more than a description of the product and a few lines on why they liked it.

And this is all a bit bland. The quality of many case studies is dubious at best.

To make something attention-grabbing you need to have that trouble element. By that, I mean that your product or service will have solved a particular problem. And solutions sell, so it is crucial you find this type of content.

The fun bit here is that that the trouble element may not be your customer’s problem. It could be a concern they had about your product or service before they chose to buy. Perhaps they didn’t think that it could do the job properly until they saw it in action.

I recently bought a laminator and I wasn’t convinced that this particular one I was interested in could treat the thickness of material I wanted to use. I was worried about the thickness going through the laminator and then I saw this one testimonial that said it is absolutely fine with 250 microns and it solved my worry about the product.

 

Human interest

Your case study also has got to have the H-word – human interest.

As a journalist, I have made money writing stories that are full of human interest – they are about people, not products and services.

And it is the people that bought your product or service that matter. How did they feel? What motivated them? What was their emotional response? You have got to get to this to bring the story to life otherwise it is just a corporate brochure. And that is boring.

So, how do we get to this content?

The key is in the questions that we ask. You need to ask questions that steer and guide the person you are talking to away from saying bland things like ‘it is brilliant’.

A question that works really well is something along the lines of ‘what were you concerned about before you bought this product?’.

They might respond by saying something like “I didn’t think it would be cost-effective”; “I thought it would be too expensive”; “I didn’t think the service would be good enough”.

And from there you can find out what changed their mind and convinced them to buy.

Another question I love to ask, is “what did you enjoy most about the product/service?”.

We get too bogged down with the logical, rational reasons for doing things. They might be worthy, but they are also dull. A more emotional response can be much more impactful. For a car, something along the lines of “what I really enjoy is that you can get to the national speed limit from the traffic lights far quicker than anyone else” might really resonate with some audiences.

I wrote a testimonial on an Israeli plastics manufacturer which produces these huge rolls of netting wrap. The man I was speaking to was talking about the benefits but was also saying how heavy they were and said that when they added a handle it made it so easy to put in the machine. At that point, the case study came alive.

The other great benefit of this type of question is it encourages people to talk in a natural way. There is a great risk with case studies that people will talk to you corporate to corporate, business to business and that is bland, boring and turns people off. 

You want them to talk to you as if you are their friend and use that language and talking about enjoyment can achieve that.

“Is there anything you’d like to add?” This may sound like an innocuous question. Perhaps, more of an afterthought. But you would be amazed how many good stories I’ve got from asking this simple question as a journalist.

And it works for case studies as well. You tend to find that because the interview feels like it has come to an end, they are more relaxed and speak more freely. You can find some real gems of information through this question.

What else can you learn from journalists that might help with your case studies?

Well, a crucial one is avoiding offering copy approval. 

If you send them the text, you can be sure they will worry about it and they will pass it around colleagues who have had nothing to do with it, and it will come back with all the good stuff stripped out. Instead of copy approval, I ask them at the end of the interview if they are happy with everything that has been said and give them a summary of what I have taken from it. That’s the end of my approval process.

Another useful tip is to think in advance about what you want them to say and then tee them up to say it. Phrasing a question by starting with ‘would it be fair to say that…’ can be a good way of achieving this.

When newspapers quote ‘sources’ in their articles it is often seen as half-truths and spin and there is a growing backlash against it in the age of fake news. And it is the same with anonymous case studies. If you saw a case study from ‘service user, Peterborough’, would you believe it?

This is a person who isn’t prepared to put his name to the comment. So where is the integrity? Did he really believe what he said? If you are reading that you are thinking “this is rubbish”. Prove the person is authentic by including their name, job title and a little bit of information about their business.

My final point here is that you need to be careful with your editing. If you try to polish too much you are going to end up with something that resembles an advert. Journalists don’t change their quotes and neither should you. Rephrasing is a terrible thing to do which takes away authenticity and the customer will invariably see through it.

But where are you going to get these testimonials from?

Just like a journalist, you need to cast your net far and wide and have different strategies to gather the content you need.

It is key that you engage your sales team and ensure they understand the benefits of what you are trying to achieve so that they don’t see it as a marketing whim. They will have the relationship with customers and will be able to identify the success stories where one of their clients may be willing to speak.

It is important here that they are able to tell the client what they will get out of the process – raising their profile.

Another good avenue for spotting case study opportunities is social media. Make sure you know what people are saying about you.

And make it easy for people to leave case studies and testimonials on your website through a simple form.

The final point from me is that everyone seems to be looking to create a case study that will go viral and get thousands of clicks. But will anyone buy anything else as a result? This process isn’t just about generating clicks – it is about creating something helpful that encourages people to find out more and ultimately buy.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is a podcast or email marketing.

Adam Fisher
16th May 2018 - 7 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.