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

Why it’s time to take a hammer to your marketing funnel

James White 14th February 2020 — 6 mins read
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ounds great, doesn’t it?

But the reality is, it is simplistic, outdated, rigid and even wrong and that’s why I think it is time to take a hammer to the funnel.

The big problem with the funnel is it doesn’t reflect the modern consumer’s experience or the way they interact with brands. And it is also prescriptive about where different content formats sit in the process, whereas it should be the content within each format that is the decisive factor – not the delivery method.

Just because someone is at the start of a process to buy a product doesn’t mean they need the same form of marketing content to take them further along that journey.

Everyone is different. When I have gone out to buy software, like Communigator, I have tended to go on YouTube and looked at ‘how to’ videos. I wanted to find out more about how you import data and how you create dashboards.

Most marketeers would argue that is the back end of the funnel, where you are really deciding what you are going to buy, but I used it right at the top.

The top of the funnel for me is about peer review and word of mouth. I am more likely to talk to people and ask how they do things.  Yet this doesn’t get a look-in in marketing funnels.

The other top of the funnel – the awareness piece - for me is people picking up the phone and calling me or going to a conference and seeing a good speaker.

And, I’m sure I’m not alone – different types of content appeal to different people at different times.

You simply cannot afford to put everyone in the same pot and say that just because they are at a particular stage of the process, they need that type of content, delivered in a particular type of way.

Let’s take podcasts as an example. These are typically placed in the ‘awareness’ section at the top of the funnel. But why do they need to sit there? Surely, they could also play a role in other stages, such as research and comparison.

You could have a podcast talking about the different types of automated marketing software and that would sit in the comparison section. Or you could have a podcast talking about pricing or ROI which could sit in the ‘purchase’ section of the funnel.

As I say, it is the content within each format that decides where it should be used in the process, not the delivery method.

So, if you are not going to base your marketing on the funnel, what should you do?

Well, you still need a process in place that gives thought to where different parts of content should be. And you still need a method or process for identifying buying intent.

Ultimately it is all about having good quality content that engages, convinces and compels your audience, regardless of whether they come to it at the start of the buying process or when they are about to make a buying decision.

You need to offer them something that adds value; that showcases your expertise and highlights what makes your brand different.

That is why at Thirty Seven, and our sister company Media First, we put journalistic principles at the heart of every bit of content we produce.

And that means we aim to tell the TRUTH.

By that I mean our content is:

 

T topical, of the moment, and something people are talking about

R relevant to a specific audience

U unusual. Not what people already know or expect

T trouble. Show how you are solving a problem. Or, if your story is not strong enough, a journalist will look for their own trouble angle

H human interest. What is in it for people? What impact will it have on your customers and the journalist’s audience?

 

The aim is for the content to include at least four of the five elements of TRUTH to create something meaningful.

But the human aspect is crucial.

The most common phrase you will hear in a newsroom is ‘so what?’ Journalists will look at a potential news item and ask ‘so what does this mean for my audience?’

At the very least they will want to know who the people are behind the story. Take a look at any newspaper, news website or news programme and you will find all the stories have a human angle.

The reason is simple – people are fascinated by stories about people, not policies, procedures initiatives and protocols.

As well as telling the TRUTH you need to say AMEN (no, this blog hasn’t taken a strange turn towards religious preaching). This means you need to ensure the content you produce is suitable for the target ‘Audience’; that you are clear on the ‘Message’ you want to get across to that audience; that you have ‘Examples’ (ideally human ones) to support and explain that message; and that you have considered any potential ‘Negatives’ that could be raised.

Unless you are working for a company with a huge marketing budget, and lots of people producing the content, the ‘topical’ element of what makes quality content is tricky.

The key is to balance timely content with content that is evergreen (not time-sensitive) and that can also be sliced and diced in different ways. At Media First, we have recently taken a number of blogs and used them as the basis of downloadable eBooks aimed at specific sectors.

Similarly, there is no reason why videos can’t be turned in to podcasts or why parts of a Whitepaper can’t be turned into an Infographic. Not only does this ensure your carefully crafted content is working harder, but you are also providing more ways for consumers to access content in the ways they are most comfortable.

The other key journalistic principle you need to use in your content is proof reading. You should ensure that your content is seen by three sets of eyes before it leaves your office. This helps to ensure your content meets its aims and objective and that those typos and errors that can undermine content are eradicated.

I mentioned earlier the importance of still having a process behind your content once you have moved away from the funnel.

That process needs to be flexible and it also needs to be something you are prepared to interrupt. At Media First, we would normally see someone downloading our content as a sign of a hot lead.

But recently we decided to interrupt that and call people before they reached that stage.  We called 135 people – identified by the pages they had visited on the website. 90 people got dropped, two were not the right contact and one was international, but we generated 34 proposals and eight hot leads – that is a ridiculous conversion rate for new business development.

 

It’s time to take a hammer to the funnel – or at least throw it out. There is a better way, and quality content lies at its core.

 

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.

Tom Idle
19th February 2018 - 5 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.