Adam Fisher
31st October 2018 - 5 mins read
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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

Writing skills you can steal from journalists

Adam Fisher 14th January 2019 — 6 mins read
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ut it is not just those in content marketing who face the pressure of having to write quality content on demand.

Journalists have to create attention grabbing-content every day.

So what skills can we steal from them to make our content better?

 

Keep it simple

One of the lessons I learned as a young journalist which really stuck with me was the need to keep my writing simple.

Good newspaper articles are concise, contain simple language and use basic sentence structures.

The simpler an article is to read the more people will be able to understand what it is saying. The average reading age of the UK population is generally considered to be around nine years.

And this is pertinent to content marketing.

All too often organisations inadvertently opt for content which creates barriers to comprehension and detracts from the message.

Let’s take something I saw from Lloyds Banks just before I settled down to write this blog. It was a quote in a document from chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio.

It said: “Our differentiated, customer focussed business model continues to deliver with our multi brand, multi-channel approach, cost leadership, low risk positioning, investment capacity and execution capabilities positioning us well for sustainable success in a digital world.”

There is so much about that sentence I don’t like. But the key issue is that no matter how often I read it, it does not make sense. And that is a real problem. If people don’t understand the content you produce they won’t stick with it.

So lose the big words, keep the sentences tight.

 

Write how you talk

This follows on quite nicely from the importance of keeping writing simple, because one of the best ways to do that is to focus on using the same language you use when you speak.

If I’m struggling to write something I think about how I would say it.

The other benefit of this approach is that it creates a chatty, informal style and natural flow – something journalists strive for in their stories.

To help achieve this, grammar rules sometimes go out of the window. For example, sentences can often start with ‘and’.

 

Research

In many cases, for journalists, the writing is actually the shortest part of the process of putting a story together.

Reporters spend lots of time gathering, looking at and assessing the validity of information in search of a story. This could be sourcing facts and figures, studying data and interviewing experts.

The more research you put into your content the more it will tell your readers things they don’t already know.

And that is a crucial way of ensuring it will stand out from all the other content which is available. 

 

Interview

Here’s a question. How many blogs do you see which include comments from a real person? How many newspaper stories do you see that don’t feature people?

One of the key differences between content and newspaper stories is that the stories always feature people.

And people are predominantly brought into stories through interviews.

Whether it is people in your own organisation or key influencers in the sector, getting the views, opinions and personalities of other people into your content can offer your readers something strong and different, as well as breathe life and add fresh impetus into existing content ideas.

A journalist’s contacts book is something they rely on heavily. Look through your contacts and consider who you could interview for your content.

You can find out more about using interviews in your content in this earlier blog.

 

Human

The way we consume stories and content has changed. Newspaper sales are in decline and people increasingly rely on social media and the internet to find out what is going on in the world.

But despite this evolution there is a constant – people still want stories about other people.

Human interest stories remain as powerful as ever, which is why ‘how does this affect people?’ is still the phrase you will hear most often in a newsroom.

And it is a key in producing content which draws in readers and keeps them engaged.

 

Inverted pyramid

The inverted pyramid is a writing model used by journalists to show how stories should be structured so that they get the most attention.

Essentially it shows that the most newsworthy part should be at the beginning. So; who, what, where, when, why and how are the questions journalists will look to answer in their opening paragraphs.

The next stage of the inverted pyramid structure is the important details and supporting information, including quotes and statistics. And the pyramid base is the general and background information.

The beauty of this structure is its simplicity which ensures stories are easy to follow for readers. If people can’t follow what you are writing then they quickly lose interest.

The only change to this structure for a content marketing point of view is that the last part of the pyramid should include some form of a call to action.

 

Focus on what’s new

If you consider what makes something newsworthy, then timeliness or topicality would be one of the crucial components.

We want to know the latest news and the latest trends. We are not interested in a rehash of something we already know.

So, look to bring your readers something new. Perhaps some new insight or a new way of looking at things. Or look to use topics that people are currently talking about to show how your product or service could have made a difference.

 

Thesaurus

A thesaurus can be a valuable tool for a journalist, but it’s one that comes with a note of caution.

A good reporter will use it to avoid annoying repetition in their writing, by finding alternative words.

But it is crucial it is not used to find more complicated words to make your writing appear more intelligent.

As a content marketer you are writing to inform and generate interest. But that will not happen if the audience does not understand the words you use.

 

Edit

Always ask yourself whether you could say the same thing in your writing without using as many words.

Journalists look to make their copy as tight as possible and similarly, you should look to edit your own content without fear.

This doesn’t mean you should always produce short-form content. It is about ensuring the words you use are the most effective. For example, the word ‘very’ often isn’t needed. ‘Many’ is tighter than ‘a lot of’.

I don’t think I have ever seen a journalist read their writing aloud in the newsroom, but if you can find somewhere quiet this is a good tip. If you find yourself falling over your words and struggling for breath then you need to simplify and rework your sentences. 

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.

Aimee Hudson
3rd October 2017 - 6 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.