2015’s trends: avocado toast and cold brews, patchwork jeans and platform sneakers, card layouts, flat design, hero images, loading animations, and background videos.
So many trends, so little time.
So, how does your company determine which trends to adopt and which to skip in 2016?
Is it as simple as watching what competitors do? Is it a function of hiring more UX professionals and testing as much as you can?
Related Article: How to Identify and Correct Problems in Your Web Design
Surprisingly, it is not either of those – before adopting the next big trend, here are five things to consider:
1. Align with KPIs
Your website’s goal and its key performance indicators are the most important metrics to keep in mind. What does your site aim to do? Are you trying to compel visitors to sign up for a trial or to increase brand awareness?
Take a look at Progressive.com’s homepage:
Clearly, their goal is to get visitors started with a quote for saving money on insurance.
So, if their designer wanted to go with the current trend of animating mouseovers on the home page, he should first use in-page analytics to determine how the layout affects the goal of starting the quote process.
By using tools like heatmaps and session replays, as well as performing A/B testing, the designer can determine how well the animated mouseover trend performs on their site and whether or not it improves the efficiency of their conversion funnel.
Related Article: Critical Items Every Small Business Website Needs
2. Align With Target Personas
Before adopting a trend, check the basics. UX 101 teaches us to align web design with our target audience for the best conversion rates. So if a site like AARP wants to hop on the card layout design bandwagon, for example, it must consider how its target “baby boomer” market would react.
How can they do this? By testing the trend on a small and representative segmented group of their users, they can use heatmaps and conversion analytics to track how their users behave and engage with the new site design. This data can help AARP to understand and anticipate how their larger user base would react to the change and determine whether or not to implement it across the board.
3. Consider History
While cool design and modern UX trends are all about being forward-thinking and cutting-edge, do not hastily opt for something without first carefully considering past tests you have run and their results. Access in-page analytics to learn about visitor behavior in response to past changes. Consider the timing of your tests – while you want to keep things fresh, you do not want to confuse your “regulars” with complete site overhauls too often. Also, take into account any historical industry seasonality effects before planning your next test.
4. Shoulder Angel vs. Shoulder Devil
New trends are easy to get excited about – we all want to newest toys, coolest gadgets, trendiest clothes. But before hopping on a new hoverboard, we must weigh the possible pros (being the coolest kid on the block) against the possible cons (exploding). When considering a new web design trend, take into account possible positive and negative effects on the user experience and ways to measure the actual effect.
5. Trendy Costs
One of our clients decided to add a video to their homepage because everyone in their industry was doing so. What they assumed would be a no-brainer turned out to be a dud. Adding the video proved to hinder visitors from completing their journey within the website, causing them to stay on the video and then bounce.
Also, the video’s location on the page is extremely important, and we have clearly seen that placing it in the wrong place can decrease scrolling distance and can result in less exposure to products or ads.
Related Article: You Built It, Now What? What to Do After Launching Your Website
Before adopting the video trend, or any other, consider potential harm it could have on your profits. And also, consider that by dedicating resources to a trend, you are allocating them away from other endeavors.
Running tests, gathering data, and turning actionable insights from your findings into reality are all a necessary part of creating a well-performing UX web design. Carefully considering these 5 points before adopting a trend is key to improving your chances of success.