Have you ever visited a company’s website, only to think “Man…this looks like it was designed around the same time I made my middle school myspace page with blinking stars and rainbow background.” Just us? coolcoolcool. 

You don’t want this to be your “dazzling” first impression. 

We know that you DO want to start thinking about big 2022 projects like re-branding and website redesign (if you aren’t already), because they are long-term projects that you need to plan and budget for early, and actualize later in 2022. 

So, without further ado, here are the five website trends you need to pay attention to in 2022. 

#1 Accessibility

A-cc-e-ss-ibilitttyyyyy (Sung to the tune of Aretha Franklin’s Respect). Okayyyyyyy…maybe that’s a songwriting flop, but rest assured, it’s certainly not a website or marketing miss. What do we mean by website accessibility, and why do we keep bringing it up? Two words: it’s important. 

Website accessibility means that website visitors of all abilities can use your website with ease regardless of what devices or assistive technologies they use to visit websites. About 20% of the population lives with a disability, which means one in five website visitors might need assistive technology to navigate the internet. If your website isn’t accessible to them, you’ve essentially closed the digital front door to your property or community in their face, driving them to a competitor (or worse an internet listing service costing you more when the lead went to you first). A website that all visitors can navigate and interact with inherently reaches a wider audience, which as you know, is what marketing is all about. 

Here are a few tactical elements that can improve accessibility: 

  • Phone number in the header so those that really want to call, get to that fast
  • Strong color contrast between text and backgrounds
  • Alternative text, or alt text, that describes visual elements such as photographs on all pages of your websites. (P.S. This can also help search engines crawl your website and boost SEO.) 
  • Labels and instructions with any website form fields, rather than placeholder text, so all users can fill out website forms. 

You should also work with your website provider to understand if your website is built from the code up, to be accessible. And, watch this webinar to learn more about website accessibility. 

#2 Thumbs Up

What do we mean by this? Well, pick up your cell phone and start reading this article there. Or if you’re already on your smartphone, check out how you’re holding your phone: four fingers behind it, thumb scrolling, and being the workhorse of mobile browsing. This is a generalization so bear with us, thumb scrolling is how MOST of us use our mobile devices, and it’s why we give a big thumbs up to navigation built with the thumb scroller in mind.  

So, design the mobile version of your website with mobile-first thumb-scrollers in mind. If you put your critical calls-to-action (CTAs) in hard-to-reach areas of a screen (especially the newer mini-tablets that also make phone calls large-screened mobile phones), then (what)?. The key to creating a good website user experience is to make sure your website is truly the path of least resistance. Do this by placing important CTAs where a thumb can reach them on a mobile device like a persistent footer bar that has a quick link to call or fill out a form. Check out the graphic below to understand common comfortable areas for thumb scrolling smartphone users. 

#3 Chatbots or Virtual Sales Assistants

While chatbots and VSAs aren’t NEW, they might be a new addition to your website that your team is considering. As more of our buying decisions and research happens online, website visitors expect always-on solutions like chatbots or VSAs to answer their questions 24/7/365. 

What IS new about chatbots and VSAs is a rising customer expectation that the question and answer format becomes a bit more human-like. While we aren’t saying that these solutions will ever be fully human, we are saying that with staffing shortages, and hiring pressures, adding a personal touch via your website chatbot or virtual sales assistant can create a memorable customer experience.

In case you raised an eyebrow when “personal touch” and VSA or chatbot entered the same sentence, know this: they can use natural language processing (NLP). NLP is a fancy way of saying that the bot or VSA gets smarter with the questions that get asked. They answer questions that weren’t programmed in from the beginning, so instead of a dead-end, prospective residents and renters receive answers that get better with time. 

#4 Micro-interactions 

When we visit a website, we want to know that the website IS working. While a 404 error is a sure indication that it isn’t working, micro-interactions are good subtle ways to let your website visitors know that your website is responsive and ready to answer their questions. Let’s define exactly what we are talking about so that we’re all on the same (web)page. 

When you hover your mouse over a link what happens? Well…that depends on the website, but generally, if a piece of text is “clickable” or hyperlinked, hovering will cause it to change color, and the same for call-to-action buttons. You can add small micro animations to other areas of your website too, such as your social media icons, or share icons. Check out the graphic below for a few examples of what we are talking about. 

#5 Design Trends 

Minimalism, Bold Color, Flat Design + Organic Shapes 

Design is constantly changing and updating based on consumer preference. Minimalism is still ruling all things design, however, instead of straight, clean, geometric lines, more flowing organic shapes are a rising design trend. These designs are often “flat” in nature (like less drop shadows) and have a lot of white space around visual elements (think Apple aesthetics). 

However, a growing design trend is that “white space” doesn’t necessarily need to be white, but it does need to be spacious. Space is the key word in this art term, which basically means that bold or visually weighty page elements need to have some room around them to let the design breathe and to let your eyes have visual resting places throughout the website. White, or lighter colors within your branding palette can be implemented in order to achieve this airy, minimal, design aesthetic. Basically, if everything on the page is shouting for attention, nothing stands out. Use space to make sure the things you want to stand out are visually separated, and don’t get lost. 

One final design trend: Be BOLD and memorable. Your website branding is what differentiates your properties and communities from your competitors. And, when emerging from the darkest of times, choosing vibrant, bold color palettes is a growing design trend. 

P.S. A word to the wise, if you’re re-thinking your brand colors, consider the color psychology behind the colors you are choosing, and consider the contrast between brand colors in order to retain or improve website accessibility. 

Brand + UX

Branding and user experience go hand-in-hand. To learn more about the G5 approach to branding and user experience download our Brand + UX Report from the G5 MarTech Series, or visit these senior living, and self storage case studies to see how G5 brings designs to life.