One: SUVs Are Turning Into Mini-Vans
Whether you’ve looking at Ford Explorers, Honda CR-Vs, Toyota RAV-4s, or Chevy Equinoxes one thing has become apparent: the SUV is changing. We’re no car experts but it seems like the normally sporty, acute angles of these ruff-and-rugged sport utility designs are becoming more like mini-vans each day.
We’ve noticed rounded edges, wider bases, and less distinction (or accentuation if you prefer) from front to back. That is, the lines don’t wiggle like the used to! We don’t know what this means for the auto industry but, from a design standpoint, we’ve found it intriguing. Don’t take our word for it though, look at the top-rated SUV designs.
We’ve seen websites mimic this transition by blending nav menus and submenus, rounding buttons, form boxes, and CTA elements, and see the same fonts being used in headings and body text. All things considered; we’re not fans of this trend and can’t wait for it to trend elsewhere.
Two: Supplement Brands with ‘Clean’ Labels are Selling Better
Now you’re really wondering where the hell we’re going with things, amiright? Supplement brands have been vying for consumer trust and attention for decades. To many, the industry has become notoriously-associated with “snake oil” salesmen, over-exaggerated claims of benefits, and outrageous price markups. New reports of toxic ingredients, mislabeled products, and FDA recalls scare many—but not enough to avoid the products altogether.
So which brands are winning out? What we’ve noticed is that brands focusing on explicit label descriptions of all ingredients, avoiding unnecessary fillers, and working to contain organic and Non-GMO (read as natural) ingredients continue to win consumer trust. These are the supplement brands posting lab testing results to their websites, producing clinical data, and avoiding using cheap materials. Here’s a list of some of the most popular brands for reference.
With respect to web design, we see this trend echoed in long detailed “About Us” pages where nothing is airbrushed. Employee pictures, office pictures, and accurate (not fluffed) bios are made available. In short, customers feel like they know the company before they even start doing business. This trend has been developing for a while. One example is the sort of TV-Shorts that many brands are distributing to their social media. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about short, concise, and factual information as a foundation of design. People don’t want to hear grandiose mission statements anymore: they want to know the practical reality of what a business is doing. Put that in your website and refresh it.
Three: Shitty Music is Selling Like Crazy
Maybe we’re getting old and the younger generations haven’t just lost their damned minds. Music trends ebb and flow more than just about anything else we can think of. The popularization of services like Pandora, Spotify, and explosion of artists out there have accelerated the rate at which music evolves.
One of the most ridiculous trends (in our opinion) is the facetiousization of modern advertising; being as ridiculous as possible in hopes of getting attention. It’s conditioned people to respond positively to things because they are ridiculous rather than because they are of genuine quality. New artists are beyond ridicule since it seems to be the foundation of their popularity.
If you want to cater to popular demand, and through your principles aside, think about designing outrageous things. We’re talking MIDI music, 1990’s color combos, and UI elements that are as bizarre as they are unpredictable. Probably the best example we can think of is Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway site. Owned by one of the wealthiest men in the world, it is one of the worst designs out there. But maybe it’s cool because it’s so bad? We honestly can’t make that determination anymore. Left is right, up is down, and forwards is purple.
Design inspiration can come from anywhere. Whether your watching how clouds shift shapes to inspire your slider transitions or looking at leaves to extract that perfect page harmony: design is everywhere. Consumer trends are reflective of what (if nothing else) people are being presented. For better or worse, these are the designs that clients will come to associate with quality brands and likely demand for you to recreate.
5 Health Tips Every Web Designer Needs to Hear
Health isn’t often a leading topic among conversations between website developers. Tech and health don’t always mesh—sometimes they do—though health has a way of affecting every aspect of our lives. If you feel bad you won’t tackle problems as well and your designs will reflect your mood. Sure, every professional would like to think they’re above such influence but the truth is we’re just a bunch of animals. This article is all about sharing some valuable health tips to help keep your website design company up-and-running by helping you be the best version of your self.
Good Health is Not Easy
Feeling good is only easy for those among us that do it by default. For those whose first response is fatigue, negativity, or chronic illness there’s an uphill battle ahead. Making a conscious effort to take steps to improve one’s health is the only way by which anything meaningful will ever be accomplished. No one’s going to do it for you. We’re no doctors here at DesignOra but we all have an interest in performing our best on the job. Taking steps to ensure our health is as good as it can help us maintain our edge when it comes to landing new clients, nailing our projects, and coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems. After all, no one’s going to redefine their design approach when they feel like shit.
Exercise Every Day
Exercise continues to be the simplest and most substantiated benefit for human health. Our ancestors passed the time by running dozens of miles, hunting fierce predators, and rarely sitting down for a break. In fact, sitting at a desk (or even standing at a desk) isn’t what the human body and mind have evolved to accel at. Being in a moving environment not only helps signal our bodies to release the hormones we need to feel good but it also helps modulate our immune system. Our brains do better when given dynamic situations to navigate and draw relevance from. If a new concept is learned within the context of something easy to remember chances are you’ll learn it more completely. Crawl before you walk and walk before you run. No need to start powerlifting on day one. Walking 15-30 minutes each day is a great first step.
Get Quality Sleep
Pushing the boundary of one’s wakefulness to finish up a last-minute revision on a project already past its deadline is a common part of web design. Staying up all night (and waking up first thing in the morning) is considered a rite of passage for most but it takes its toll. Sleep deprivation is one of the strongest correlating factors with all major disease (right after exercise!) If you’re not getting enough sleep you’re doing yourself a disservice. Putting in 8 horizontal hours each night isn’t guaranteed to cover your ass though. Quality is as important as quantity when it comes to sleep and if you’re sleeping poorly it doesn’t matter how long you’re down for. I recently helped redesign a website that features lots of mattress reviews. My first impression was to be mesmerized by how many different types of mattresses there are out there. My second impression was that one can buy a quality mattress without taking out a loan these days. Not only can you visit their website to get a nice example of modern website design but also get some quality mattress recommendations!
Eat Good Food
Fad diets aren’t something that you should pay attention to. Anyone offering you a way to lose X pounds in X days is blowing smoke up your ass and deserves to be force-fed a tub of butter. Assessing your overall nutrition is something that can make a difference though. If you eat fast food, frozen food, preserved food, or just about any food ordered from chain takeouts there’s a big chance that you’re not getting the nutrition you need. Hiring a nutritionist to help you build a customized dietary plan is a great idea but not affordable for everyone out there. Instead, I like to follow a few simple rules:
- Eat organic when possible
- Cook your own food
- Balance your macros (carbs, fats, protein)
That’s not too hard, right? There’s an infinite degree of complexity one can introduce to their diet but these simple guidelines can make a world of difference. Cutting out processed foods, eating whole foods (things you buy in the grain, produce, and meat section at the grocery store) can have a tremendous impact on your cognitive and physical health.
Live a Balanced Lifestyle
There’s not much scientific language to frame this one with. Just imagine I’m putting on my Zen-Master robe as I write. Web development, software engineering, and any discipline that involves nuanced problem solving take a lot of mental effort. In our fields, there are strong incentives to devote oneself to seeing the world primarily from the mental perspective. It’s easy to forget to assess situations based on the physical sensations you feel or your emotional perception when you have to think all day. It’s a force of habit; akin to muscle memory (mind memory?!) Recognizing that one needs to have physical and emotional experiences each day to support their mental ones is easier said than done. The first tip I can offer is to consider your exercise a physical task. Don’t spend your whole time at the gym thinking about your deadline or how late your client is on paying their last bill. Focus on how the fibers of your muscles feel, how the air feels in your lungs, and how the ground feels beneath your feet. Check out, and give yourself permission to do so.
Laughter is Good Medicine
Laughter might not cure cancer but it damn sure helps lower the risk of chronic health issues. The human immune system is comprised of (among many other things) receptors for a class of compounds known as Enkephalins. Among them are the feel-good compounds we call Endorphins that get released when we laugh, exercise, have sex or do some types of drugs. These compounds are our bodies’ way of signaling to us that we’re doing something good! Chronic and regular release of these compounds has been shown to have a modulatory effect on the human immune system so much so that synthetic mimetics are used to treat a varying number of diseases. Common drugs used to treat opioid addiction (opioids are very similar to endorphins) are often used as general immune-boosting therapies for patients with conditions unresponsive to conventional care. Laughing and feeling good is one of the two best ways to help ensure your body stays in tip-top shape!
We aren’t doctors and aren’t giving medical advise (our lawyer would be happy that we’ve said that!) This article is only meant to help bring some attention to how important health is in everything we do. That includes website development! By taking effective steps towards feeling better you will, without doubt, end up being a better designer. There is no scenario in which you are healthier in which you don’t become more capable—even if it makes you realize you hate web design. I mean, let’s be honest; sometimes at 2am, I feel like I’m torturing myself on purpose. One email. Could. Stop. It. All. Clients. Hate. SHIT. Seriously though, live a healthy life and you’ll find that happiness might not be far behind!
5 Best WordPress Themes for Web Design Inspiration
WordPress is an incredibly well-backed platform that has transcended its humble roots among bloggers. It’s now used as an enterprise solution for many businesses around the world for purposes of eCommerce, News, and even custom SaaS solutions. Such wide adoption has created a rich ecosystem of themes and plugins. Some of the best WordPress themes have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in their development!
You can benefit from checking out some of the best WordPress themes whether your next website design project intends to leverage the power of WordPress or not. After all, there has been some serious development given to these plugins. Arguably, more so than most popular websites out there. Sure, you’ll find the majority of them are weakly-coded and generic but, among the top sellers, you’ll find incredible design ideas. So, with no further ado, here are the best WordPress themes out there. Use them for inspiration for your next project!
Avada is a multi-purpose WordPress them that has been receiving continued development for nearly a decade. It’s evolved alongside web design trends and continues to offer fresh and new looks. It’s use of section headings and section transitions are particularly impressive. They have to juggle all the design with the knowledge that most buyers will be using a page builder—notorious for creating messy code. Nonetheless, this theme offers a lot of inspiration.
X is one of the most heavily advertised WordPress themes in history. It’s a theme made for developers to have versatile access to core APIs and built-in classes. It’s not got as much wow factor on the front-end as much as it does on the backend of things. The X WordPress theme will help offer inspiration on how to better organize your site structures and differentiate between “flavors” of classes used to drive different aspects and features of your site.
This WordPress theme characterizes how solid organization and attention to performance details can shred competitors. This theme was designed with its own page builder (to avoid all that nasty code most create) and has a performance-first attitude. Whether Enfold is stripping out HTML comments, minimizing script files, pre-fetching DNS requests, or simply combining multiple API calls to single domains into single calls—this theme really scoots along!
The “B” in Be Theme’s name is for bloat. This theme is an example of how out-of-hand mass-market development can get in pursuit of meeting the requests and demands of everyone. I’d never recommended actually building a site with this theme, but it’s great for inspiration! As a marketing tool, the Muffin Group has created tons of demo pages (like hundreds) that have some really interesting approaches. If you’re stuck looking for a general direction I suggest flipping through the demo pages of this WordPress theme. It might not be the best WordPress theme in terms of performance but it does feature a lot of different design elements.
This is one of the best WordPress themes ever developed in my opinion. I’ve actually used this one for several websites where the budget was an issue and time was short as well. It comes with a lot of custom classes meant for nothing but performance enhancement (like Lance Armstrong, but for websites!) Its overall design is pretty rigid in terms and is definitely meant to be a news-based website. Nonetheless, spending a little time to customize template files here can save your dozens of hours of custom development. Lazy loaded images, built-in caching, and mesmerizing AJAX usage; these are only a few of the many things that make this theme shine. Definitely one of the best WordPress themes on the market and a tremendous source of inspiration.
You’re likely not going to actually be using a WordPress theme that often but such well-financed projects deserve some attention. The hours these developers have spent to make these themes so popular can serve as valuable insight for your own projects. WordPress themes are cheap—like $50-$60 cheap—and downloading 4 or 5 to have on hand for project ideas is almost a non-expense. After all, if investing $250 makes your next 5-figure project run more smoothly—who’s counting that, right?