A Marketer’s Guide to Top 5 Web Trends in 2015

By Jeff Yerkey
Web & Interactive Director, Right Hat

Many companies will be celebrating 20 years on the Web this year. Saying websites have come a long way since those first static HTML black and blue text pages of 1995 is an understatement. Web design and technology has exploded in the past few years and 2015 promises to be no exception.

The top 5 trends we expect in 2015 are below:

1. Web Everywhere

The rousing chant of “Internet everywhere” and (shoot me now) the “Internet of Things” is in full swing and it’s a safe bet to say that smartphones, particularly “phablet” tablet/phones, will be out in front. To that end, we expect to see virtually 100% of new websites being built as responsive design or in other words a site that will work regardless of size or type of device you view it on.

Perkins Coie's new Responsive website optimizes and resizes based upon device

Perkins Coie’s new Responsive website optimizes and resizes based upon device

And while your website may not need to display on a toaster just yet, if it’s not responsive, you’ll soon be thrown to the wayside by mobile visitors.

Things to keep in mind this year are:

The Buzz

2. Flat Design

Hang on to your hats! Although surprising to most savvy designers, the Redmond-based giant Microsoft was the innovator in flat design. They created a simple “tile-based” user interface on Windows “Metro” 8 and Windows Phone. This spurred Google and Apple to follow suit.

Flatland: Clockwise from top left: Microsoft Windows Phone 8; icon, iPhone IOS 8; Google Material Design concept illustration

Flatland: Clockwise from top left: Microsoft Windows Phone 8; icon, iPhone IOS 8; Google Material Design concept illustration

Flat design means that websites load faster, scale better and are easier to read on all devices. It provides a foundation upon which designers can render an exceptional experience to the visitor through rich CSS web fonts, scalable vector graphics (SVG) instead of blurrier JPEGs, and more clear-cut content via layout conventions such as Google’s card design.

The Buzz

3. Beautiful Experience

With the technical superiority of HTML5, Retina image support and CSS, 2015’s websites will look sharper, more vibrant and more expansive.

Webfonts will continue to provide companies with brand-specific fonts that scale perfectly and provide razor-sharp rendering.

Greater bandwidth and the rise of visual-based website coding options like SquareSpace will mean a more widespread use of large-scale videos and backgrounds in order to uniquely brand websites.

Expansive video and large scale Webfonts make Greenpeace's Into the Arctic microsite Dramatic and moving.

Expansive video and large scale web fonts make Greenpeace’s ‘Into the Arctic’ microsite dramatic and moving.

Retina-style photos, which are twice as sharp as traditional web images mean bigger jaw-dropping images that scale much better to tablets and smartphones.

Combine all this with richer, lusher colors (like Pantone’s Color of Year 2015, Marsala) and you have no reason to have a boring looking site.

The Buzz

4. Enhanced Storytelling

Whether it’s a splashy infographic conveying stats in a graphically compelling way, animated GIFs showing off an action over time or parallax structure helping tell a complex story by scrolling, there are a myriad of ways to tell your brand story. So don’t tell it with mere words!

Impressive HTML5 animations, parallax scrolling and layered stories make this site a winner.

Impressive HTML5 animations, parallax scrolling and layered stories make this site a winner.

Subtle animations can draw the eye to tidbits that help pull visitors into more comprehensive pages. Such effects work together when you think of your brand as best conveyed through graphical storytelling.

And lastly (for the geeks among us) are browser cookies, which can be used to set and track user history and preferences to make subsequent visits to your site more personal and meaningful.

The Buzz

5. Fresh Navigation Models

Divining the depth and breath of your website – and the user’s travels while visiting – has never been more exciting. Driving this excitement are new, splashier types of navigation. We all want the nav to get out-of-the-way when we’re focused on content. And on smartphones, every square pixel’s space counts. In a way, it reminds us of a movie narrator: ease me in to the experience, explain the sticky parts and then get the hell out of my way. The show must go on!

Changes to site navigation are happening at opposite ends of the spectrum and in 2015, we see them meeting in the middle.

On desktops, we want to always be able to find our way through the use of pinned navigation or navicons (the “hamburger” menu) that are always present, like Downton’s favorite head butler, Mr. Carson; but when clicked, spring to center stage with large and well-designed menus that contextually guide the visitor.

New York's Museum of Modern Art features special exhibition with hamburger-style menu, giving way to full frame navigation

New York’s Museum of Modern Art features special exhibition with hamburger-style menu, giving way to full frame navigation

When triggered, these mega-menus must be well designed and easy to parse. But don’t overlook that navigation can also incorporate a small feature or story that visitors weren’t even expecting.

Navigation mega-menus also provide a core branding area that can visually support your strategic goals while sending users to areas they might not think to visit. (Web surfing anyone?) Use it as an ancillary pitch space.

On smartphones a tap should reveal just enough choice so as not to overwhelm and confuse the person standing up on the train trying to find her page. This is the essence of “who, what, when and where” (save “why” for the destination) navicon hamburger menus.

The Buzz

‘Big Feet’ Are Good in Law Firm Web Design

When I hear “big feet” I think about not being able to fit into Jimmy Choos. And that makes me sad. But when it comes to Web design, big feet, or footers, are actually a good thing. A modern footer, which is like a mini site map at the bottom of each web page, has become increasingly popular to improve site navigation and provide for a better overall user experience. So let me ask you this: How big are your feet?


Footers used to be small so viewers could avoid scrolling. Remember having to click on the scroll bar and drag it downward to see the rest of a page? What a hassle. No wonder we tried to cram everything onto a single visible screen, calling it “above the fold”—a leftover from newspaper days. Changes in hardware, particularly swiping features on trackpads and tablets, and tapping the spacebar on computers, loosened the physical limits of longer pages. As a result, we are no longer as constrained on page length.


This is great news for usability. One of the major benefits of a big footer is always having a convenient site map at your fingertips. Since a law firm website has many audiences—clients, prospects, potential new hires, the media and alumni—you can’t expect them all to be looking for the same information. The big footer is just one way to make it easier. Those who prefer can still use top-level navigation and drop-down menus to find what they want, but they can also just look to the bottom of the page. This means visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer and visit more pages.


As with most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to building big footers. If they are too big, perhaps mega-big, they can actually thwart navigation. Too many layers and lists of links make all the information start to blend together into a confusing mass. There are a few ways to avoid this pitfall, such as editing down the amount of links to display. For law firms, this could mean only displaying top-level pages rather than drilling all the way down to subpages in the footer. Some megafooter pitfalls can also be managed with clever designs. For example, it is important to show a hierarchy of links with the headings differentiated from the rest of the list. These headings will grab the eye and quickly draw attention to the desired pages.


Finally, especially if your firm is active on social media sites, consider adding social media links and even feeds to your footer. This will encourage visitors to engage and connect with your firm. After all, 67 percent of general counsel checked LinkedIn in the past week, according to a recent new media engagement survey. Take a look at your firm’s website and ask yourself how easy it is to locate your firm’s LinkedIn page from your homepage. If the answer is “not so easy,” consider dropping a link into the footer.
Since your firm’s website is often the first way a prospect learns about your firm and the best tool for your clients to tap into your thought leadership, making your key information easy to find and access is one of the best ways to make a good impression.

Read more: http://www.lawtechnologynews.com/id=1395146540494/%27Big-Feet%27-Are-Good-in-Law-Firm-Web-Design#ixzz2xZ2MouHU

Reprinted with permission from the MARCH 18, 2014 edition of the Law Technology News © 2013 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-257-3382 or reprints@alm.com.

The F-Pattern Is Not A Dirty Word!

Okay for those of you who don’t know what an F-pattern is, check out Web guru, Jakob Nielsen’s, article on how people read Web content. In a nutshell there is a reason many Web pages are laid out in a similar fashion. Read the entire article at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html.

Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

Google Sidewiki Chaos? Too Early To Tell.

Google launched a new commenting tool last week that has many folks up in arms. Google Sidewiki allows users to post comments about any Web page they visit by putting their thoughts in a sidebar right on the page. So let’s say you are on the home page for Epcot at Disney World — you can post a comment about your totally exhilarating ride to Mars on Space Epcot. It will appear on the side of the page if you’ve installed the Sidewiki tool. Or better yet, you can visit the bio page of your favorite M&A lawyer and comment on his responsiveness on your last M&A deal that went south.

There is a complicated set of ways that Google plans to monitor any disparaging remarks. And Web site owners will have some rights. If you haven’t checked out Sidewikis, we urge you to do so. It only takes minutes to install and it is quickly apparent that it will eventually prove to be valuable if managed correctly.