Hip homepages

Trends are always changing, and that includes what is popular when it comes to website design.

Moving social media links, and adding more white space, can create a welcoming header that will attract visitors.

Grab a cup of coffee to go with your trusted Lawn & Landscape magazine and open up that flashy website of yours – preferably on a mobile device. We’ve got some work to do.

Let’s take a look at how your company’s website reflects the trends in web design that we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years.

1. Full-width web design

Backgrounds have been eliminated in favor of stretching websites to the edge of the browser window. In many cases this full-width design has eliminated sidebars on most web pages.

Without these sidebars, navigation has moved into the header of most websites, simplifying the user experience. “Sticky” navigation is also becoming more popular, where the navigational links of a webpage seem to “stick” at the top as you scroll down the page.

2. A visual ‘hero header’

A hero header is the use of a hero image and text at the top of your homepage and other pages. These can be a fixed image or an image slider. Short video clips are becoming popular as well.

This prominently placed hero image and text is often the first visual a visitor will encounter on your website.

Including a call-to-action with a link to drive visitors deeper into your website is a popular strategy on a homepage.

3. Mobile-first approach to design

If your website is like most in our industry, 40-50 percent of visitors are most likely visiting your website on a mobile device. This calls for a mobile-first approach to the design of your website, which starts with responsive web design.

Built using responsive design, your website will automatically adjust to whatever device is viewing it. If a visitor pulls up your website on their iPhone, your site will “respond” to that unique device and render a more positive user experience without the annoying zooming, scrolling and tiny buttons.

4. White space is your friend

Instead of devoting an entire page to customer testimonials, scatter them throughout relevant pages on your site so potential customers see them.

Let the elements on your website breath. Adding more space between text, images and other design elements has been a popular trend in web design. Simplifying and adding more white space aligns with the mobile-first approach we just touched on.

5. A new home for social media links

The current design trend is to place social media icons and links in the footer of a website, as opposed to in the header which was common just a few years ago. Visitors know to scroll to the footer if they are interested in bouncing to your Facebook or LinkedIn page.

What about Facebook widgets and other social elements? Just get rid of them.

6. Spotlight on career opportunities

Lawn and landscape companies are beginning to follow the trend set in other industries by doing a much better job showcasing the career path and opportunities that exist within the company.

The homepage is a logical spot for one or two killer testimonials.

This includes detailed listings of open positions, digitizing the application process and even separate blogs for recruiting purposes.

7. Professional images of your people

People want to do business with real people. So show your people on your website. I’m not just referring to the boring headshots of your executive team. Show your employees in-action inside and outside the walls of your company. Stop talking about how professional you are and show it instead.

8. Purposeful use of video

The use of video is a trend that hasn’t slowed down. What I would personally like to see – already adopted in many other industries – are companies being more thoughtful in how they use video on their website as well as improved production quality.

9. Leverage customer testimonials more effectively

The time has come to remove the “testimonials” page from your website where you share all of your glowing customer feedback. Instead, leverage your absolute best (and most relevant) customer testimonials throughout the site.

The homepage is a logical spot for one or two killer testimonials, as are your service pages. This is where relevancy can be highly effective: use customer comments that speak about your specific services.

10. Secure your site

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security protocol that establishes an encrypted connection between the browser and a server. In addition to this extra security measure, SSL sites (sites accessed with an https protocol) may receive a positive rankings boost from search engines.

In my opinion, how secure your website is will continue to grow in importance as a positive ranking signal for the search engines like Google. There is really no reason not to implement this security protocol at this point.

Does your current website reflect these web design trends? If not, it’s probably time for a refresh and re-build.

The author is the founder and president of Landscape Leadership, a green industry marketing agency.

May 2017
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