Time to Refresh: Website Redesigns for 2017

  •    Freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.

If you're ready to refresh your website or online store, consider the latest website design trends for 2017. Think fewer menu options, more minimalist layouts and authentic photos that will help streamline navigation and tell a clear brand story to potential customers.

Great design helps people find answers, take action or complete a task, according to Web Strategist Marianne Kay. Focus on what's important by mapping out key customer journeys on your site, she adds.

Here are four tips for your 2017 website redesign.

1. Slim Down

This year, web design is all about utilitarianism, according to Econsultancy. Instead of trying to wow customers with over-the-top graphics, make it easier for them to shop – and spend – in your site or store. Reduce header menus with five to seven options down to three or four choices, for example, to help potential customers make faster decisions and move efficiently to the next step in the buying journey.

Before you add any new design feature, consider who it benefits. Is it design for the sake of design, or does it improve the functionality of your site store? If you make the shopping experience engaging with a user-friendly design and mobile-first features, shoppers are more likely to keep returning.

2. Think Minimal

After years of adding sidebars, headers, popups, comments and signup boxes, many sites have become cluttered, and less focused on content, reports The Next Web. “In 2017, websites are likely to start moving back to basics," the publication states. “Getting back to the heart of a website — the content — will be prevalent moving forward."

A minimalist approach to site design reduces clutter by focusing on usability. Research shows that customers are more attracted to sites with clean designs, according to the UsabilityGeek blog.

Take the Google homepage, for example, which is designed primarily around its search function and clear branding. Minimalist pages also use more negative space to showcase existing elements and create stress-free shopping for customers.

3. Be Authentic

Domegaia website

The most effective images for online sites and stores are both relevant and genuine, according to Kay. Staged photography can make your site feel dated, she adds. Instead, opt for authentic images that feature the real world and real people.

Video can also increase engagement by clearly telling the story of your product or service through the experiences of the people who make your products and the customers who buy them. Domegaia -- an eCommerce site that provides designs, tools, and training for eco-friendly homes -- offers plenty of authentic images and videos that illustrate how products work, share unique home designs and showcase participants in its training program in Hawaii.

Customers want authenticity from the brands they use, according to digital marketing agency Zazzle. In 2017, designers need to carefully consider the images they use to make sure they are both real and diverse.

4. Count On Numbers

RawWood Shades

"Numbers project confidence," says Kay. Use numbers on your site to share important data about your site or store, such as the number of products sold, trees replanted, offices opened, awards won or happy customers served. Customers appreciate specific numbers that lend weight to a site's text and images: A business with offices in four countries, for example, seems more established than one with international presence, says Kay.

RawWood Shades Co. makes many of its sunglasses from bamboo, and plants a tree for every pair it sells. Why trees? "A 10 year-old tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 a year," states the company website. Young trees also absorb around 10 pounds a year, creating an instant impact on the environment. The company effectively uses numbers to create an added value for each purchase.

If you're considering a website redesign in 2017, remember that less is more. “More than ever before, everything in web design, from imagery to navigation to content, must serve a purpose," says Kay. Focus on making that purpose a successful shopping experience for all your potential customers and you're off to a great start for the year ahead.