If you’re a photographer with a website, it’s good practice to keep an eye on current trends in website design and to update your site every few years. As technologies and standards change, your website may become outdated if it doesn’t change as well. Some trends in the past are now common practice. For example, a focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), the abandonment of Flash for HTML5, and silence on a website (instead of music auto-playing) are all common. Similarly, some of the current changes in website design will eventually fade.
Of course, no design trend is worth implementing merely for the sake of following a trend. For each new trend in website design you should therefore ask yourself two questions:
- Will this improve the user experience of my site?
- Does this fit my overall image and goals?
If the answer to either question is no, you should either adapt to the trend in a different way or let it go for now. With that in mind, let’s go through ten current trends in website design that you may want to use on your photography website.
1. Responsive design
It’s probably no surprise to you that people now visit websites using many different screen sizes. The increase of mobile web traffic, however, should still be considered a growing trend on the web, as mobile has now overtaken desktop/laptop as the leading source of internet traffic. Of all the trends, this change in internet consumption should inform the design of your photography website the most.
Responsive design refers to a website’s ability to adapt its appearance and content to the screen size of a device. In the future, the number of different screen sizes is likely increase further. It’s important for photography sites to use a responsive design, as users with laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and (soon) virtual reality headsets will want websites to look good and work well on all their devices. Google, moreover, has recently made mobile-friendliness a requirement for a higher ranking in mobile search results. In other words, a responsive website design will be good for your website’s user experience and SEO. (If you want to know if you’re website is mobile-friendly, you can test that here.)
2. Tile-based design pattern
The tile-based website design (also referred to as a card-based design or modular design) has been popularized by sites like Pinterest. In a tile design, the content of a website is broken down into individual squares. The shape and sizes of the individual squares can vary to create a more interesting design or a hierarchy in the content. The advantage of a tile-based design is that it works well as a responsive design. By changing the layout and sizes of the tiles, the design pattern can easily accommodate any screen size.
Because a photographer’s website generally contains a lot of photos and projects, a tile-based design is a great way to organize the content. Each photo or project becomes a single tile that can be expanded by clicking on it. In this design, it’s also easy to reorder the photos, and to add or remove items.
Browsing with a smartphone has made everyone familiar with scrolling. Instead of clicking through menus and “next” buttons, web users are now accustomed to scrolling through the content of a page. Although menus still serve a purpose, more content on a site is now accessible through scrolling.
If your photography site has no scrolling whatsoever, it’s a good idea to enable it at least on the pages where you showcase your work. Scrolling on a photography website allows visitors to quickly see more of your work. It can also keep them engaged for a longer period of time.
It’s debatable whether a continuous scroll is a good idea for a photography website. It depends on the intent of your site. If you want people to just enjoy your photography, then continuous scrolling might be a good design choice. However, if you want to reach customers through your website, then you want to limit the amount of scrolling. Instead, focus your user’s attention on contact options and calls to action.
4. Hero images
A hero image is a large, high-definition photo that dominates a site’s landing page. Hero images are meant to grab the user’s attention. After the hero image, a user can either scroll down or visit other parts of the website through a menu. As photographers specialize in images, a hero image works well with a photography site.
You should probably pick your most captivating photo for your hero image. It’s also common on photography sites to use a hero slider that cycles through multiple photos. Hero sliders are great for people that have trouble picking their best photo.
5. Flat design and beyond
Flat design is a minimalist design language that has become prevalent among photography websites. Flat design doesn’t use effects that create depth, like shadows and textures, or any other design elements. Because flat design is simple and efficient, it works well as a responsive design. Flat design also works well for a photography website because it puts the main focus on the photographer’s work.
The next big design language for photography websites is hard to predict. Still, it’s safe to assume that some of flat design’s minimalism will be abandoned. One of the more recent design languages is Google’s Material design. Material design is inspired by ink and paper and uses depth, animations, and transitions to give meaning to a website. Perhaps with material design, photos will again be shown as three-dimensional, physical objects.
6. Personal branding
In a way, most photography websites are already a form of personal branding. Photography sites generally show the portfolio of one photographer, whose name appears prominently on the website. However, personal branding has become more important for photographers recently, which has affected the design and content of their websites. More sites now show a picture of the photographers themselves. It’s also common for a photography website to have a personal blogging section. A few photographers even host podcasts, webinars, and advertise master classes on their websites. As a professional photographer, your future work depends on your personal brand. Your website’s design and content forms a large part of that brand.
Microinteractions are little moments wherein a user engages with a product. Most of the time, a user will not even think about microinteractions because their design makes them intuitive. Microinteractions are becoming more common on websites as the functionality of websites grows. In particular, social media integration has increased the number of microinteractions. On photography sites, examples of microinteractions are contacting a photographer or liking/sharing a photo on social media. Adding and improving the microinteractions on photography sites is a design trend that will most likely persist.
On the web, the choice of typography used to be limited to a handful of fonts. Now, anything is possible. As a consequence, it’s become a trend in web design to be more creative with typography. Typography is similar to light in photography. At first, you may not really notice it, but once you start paying attention to it, you see how it impacts every aspect of the end product. Remember: good typography will enhance the overall design of a website, while great typography will enhance your personal brand.
WordPress has been a growing trend for a number of years now. At the moment, about 25% of all websites are powered by WordPress. Using WordPress for a photography site makes sense from both a design and functional perspective. There are many templates and themes for photography websites to choose from. If you’d like to update the design of your site, you only have to change the WordPress template. In addition, the different tools and plugins on WordPress make it easy to follow the web’s best practices and keep up a personal blog.
10. Original design
One consequence of everyone following the same design trends is that a lot of photography websites start to look the same. So, instead of using the same flat design WordPress template and hero image like everyone else, some photographers choose an original design. The advantage of a custom design is that your website will stand out. With an original design, it’s also possible to create a unique user experience for website visitors.
Then again, every trend started off as an original design.