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Web design and development trends that will dominate 2018

(BUSINESS NEWS) Check out these top trends for web design and development to revamp your site for 2018.

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New year, new you, new web design for your glorious site. You’re no longer good to go if your website simply boasts functionality in a conventional design layout. It’s not enough to make something that just looks pretty anymore.

Ever-expanding tools make web design a constantly changing digital medium that can and should be regularly updated to remain relevant.

As always, visuals are the first thing that will draw someone into your site. Your homepage and landing pages need to grab users’ attention with striking visuals.

Font choice has always been important for good design, and that’s not changing in 2018. However, the rise of typography, typeface design, and custom fonts will continue to take center stage.

Except for Internet Explorer (crossing my fingers for its death), most browsers can support CSS-enabled custom typefaces. Contrasting sans serif with serif fonts for large lettered headings is newly popular, as well as color and variable fonts.

Bold, vibrant, and saturated color schemes are on the rise as well since advances in monitors mean designers are no longer stuck with web-safe color palettes.

Custom illustration is another growing trend, with product and marketing design prominently featuring tailored illustration to match brand tone.

Broken grid and asymmetry have become more popular too, shaking up more traditional layouts. Just make sure to keep the layout clean, or you risk offending your viewer’s delicate design sensibilities. And please, despite trends, avoid brutalist web design, please, it’s awful.

Speaking of design sensibilities, gradient is making a comeback. But like, in a cool way with subtle fading and complimentary color. Shout out to this fun original web throwback revival.

However, looks aren’t everything. If your site is not offering user-friendly, updated functionality, you’ll fall behind the curve.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) elements aren’t new tech, but their rise in popularity due to their rapid progress can’t be ignored. While these are more relevant to mobile apps, elements can be incorporated into site design as well.

Mobile-first design still dominates (duh) as mobile browsing continues to overtake desktop use, so make sure your site plays nice on-the-go too or risk alienating mobile users.

Using speech as search tool came into play as devices like Alexa and Google Home have people searching using full sentences instead of keywords. Optimizing your site’s content to allow search with speech can put you ahead of the game as the world of SEO evolves.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all the rage too, with more sites implementing smart chatbots to handle customer service and frequently asked questions. AI can also help with voice-based search using natural language processing technology.

As animation and micro-interactions become more advanced, combining form and function for delightful surprises are another rising trend in 2018

Particle backgrounds solve performance issues with video backgrounds by utilizing Javascript to create movement without taking forever to load. The animations make movement a natural part of the background, enticing viewers with motion graphics that don’t affect loading time.

Integrated animation engages users too, using smaller animations and graphics for abstract or concrete concepts. Your site could feature graphics that animate during a load page, or appear when users hover over a link, scroll, or as the main focus of the page.

Micro-interactions can set your website apart from others using more complex visuals, skilled animation, and seamless data transfer. Implementing fun on/off toggles, load status indicators, and light animation when like buttons are pressed can delight users and keep them engaged with your site.

Try out some of these trending changes on your site for 2018 and watch the users roll in.

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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