By Jeff Kline


Should You Follow That New Web Design Trend?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I’ve always said web design is like fashion, the way trends constantly come and go.

Fashion New York by Steffen Ramsaier

Right now, pastel colors and double-breasted jackets are popular. But by next season, who knows? Neon and slim-fit suits could be all the rage.

Keeping up with the latest fashion trends can sometimes feel petty, but we still do it. Why? Because, in the workplace, it helps us make a good impression on the people we meet.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to web design trends, too. Because an up-to-date look makes a good impression on the people who visit your website.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve discussed 8 different web design trends:

We’ve shared the benefits of each trend and shown how nonprofits are applying these to their websites. And we’ve encouraged you to do the same.

But there’s one more thing we have to say:

Not every web design trend will work for you.

I will never be able to make parachute pants look good.

It didn’t work in the 80s, and it’s not going to happen now. And I’m okay with that. My style fits my personality—business casual, with a purple button-down shirt tossed into the mix every so often.

Likewise, not every web design trend is going to make sense for your nonprofit.

What’s your nonprofit’s personality? If it’s playful and energetic, a simplified color scheme on your website might lighten the mood too much. If the look you’re going for is serious and subdued, geometric patterns probably won’t work.

On the other hand, some trends are universally applicable.

There are many design techniques that will work on any website.

Flat design is one trend that can be subtly worked into any website to create a cleaner, more modern look.

The manipulated photo trend is so versatile. There are thousands of different filters and overlays that make it easy to create the perfect look for your organization.

And a full page layout has all the qualities of a classic design element. I think that one might be here to stay.

So, how do you know if you should follow a web design trend?

Before deciding to introduce a new design element to your website, ask yourself:

“How will this affect my visitors?”

  • Will it distort the clarity of your message?
  • Will it make your website more difficult to navigate?
  • Will it prevent visitors from performing important actions on your website (e.g.: filling out a “Contact Us” form)?
  • Will it muddle your brand (the values that visitors associate with your organization)?

If you think a new design element will have a negative impact on the way visitors interact with your website, don’t do it. Being “modern” isn’t worth ruining your visitors’ experience.

But if you think implementing a new design trend will improve your visitors’ experience—if it will make your website more interesting, more engaging, easier to navigate—go for it!


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to talk you out of using the latest trends in web design. If your website is more than 3 years old, it’s definitely time for a redesign.

I just want to make sure you understand that, when you do decide to update your website, not all of the latest design trends are going to be appropriate for your organization.

Work with your web designer to determine which trends will make your website look great, and embrace those wholeheartedly.

But don’t be afraid to pass on the design trends that just won’t make sense for your website. Remember, just because a web design trend is popular doesn’t mean you have to follow it.

Fashion New York image courtesy of Steffen Ramsaier

Mannequins Have Feelings Too image (cropped) courtesy of Thomas Hawk


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