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2014 Inbound Marketing Trends: Design Q&A

By Jennifer KingJan 23, 2014

mobile design trends1Our series on 2014 Inbound Marketing Trends is on a roll! We’ve already taken a look at the future of inbound marketing and how it relates to trends in content marketing, sales and development. The discussion continues today with experts from the Kuno Creative design team, Creative Director Daniel Ulichney and Senior Designer Walt Winchel.

Here’s what they had to say about inbound marketing and design for 2014:

How has design evolved from 2013 to 2014?

Walt: One of the biggest changes I've encountered as a designer is now we’re designing for the buyer personas. We used to design a site and landing pages for the general buyer or user. Now we have to design websites several different ways so it can be presented to the different audiences. You have to take the client’s main brand and deliver it in four or five variations so it’s attractive to the different buyer personas.

Dan: It's about understanding the buyer and tailoring that experience to the buyer so they know exactly what they need from your site. Before we’d just design a site for anyone who wanted to visit it. Now we’re personalizing the design (and the content) so the site will look one way for one persona and another way for a different persona.

Walt: Also, we started to see more simplified design in 2013. We used to see a lot of flare, bevels and highlights. We got rid of the ornamental aspects of images and illustrations. Apple came out with the iOS and really sealed the deal for flat design in 2013. I don’t know if it's a trend or if it’s just a fad, but it was definitely huge over the last year.

Dan: It all coincides with responsive design, though. Simplifying the image allows for quicker load times on websites. Everything is becoming simpler and faster.

What are your top three predictions for design and inbound marketing in 2014?

Responsive Design
Walt: Last year it was trendy to do responsive design, but this year it is a must-have. Responsive design is a way to present your website so it’s compatible across all devices and screen resolutions. It’s a must-have now because most people are browsing websites and social sites only through mobile devices. Everybody is on the go. Everybody is on a phone or tablet.

According to Litmus, 51 percent of emails are now opened with a mobile device. Your mobile site has to be user friendly to keep customers engaged. No business can afford to lose customers because of a bad user experience.

Dan: And with the surge of responsive sites, mobile sites will begin to go away. There are so many devices and resolutions, you can’t even create a mobile version of your site to cover all your bases. You need something that’s dynamic and malleable across all platforms.

User Experience Design
Dan: UX design will grow more hand in hand with inbound marketing. Web design as whole will become more focused on the user experience, allowing for easier and more simplified messaging, imagery and navigation. This is setting up a platform for businesses to tell their stories better online, guiding the visitor to the desired destination where they will find the answers to their questions. This will ultimately lead to better and more qualified conversions.

The Death of the Rotating Banner
Dan: Nobody wants to wait anymore. Especially on the Internet. We are constantly bombarded on our phones, computers, tablet, etc. People just want to find what they’re looking for right off the bat. Making people wait to see your next message on a rotating banner is like waiting at an extra long stop light during rush hour traffic when you are in a hurry to get somewhere. It begins to make you impatient and irrational, which eventually leads the user to leave your site to visit a competitor’s site. Instead, we will see more static, subtly large responsive images that will carry a strong, simplified and direct message to draw easy attention toward what you want to deliver about your product or service. You have 4 to 6 seconds to grab someone’s attention, and they’re not going to sit through a rotating banner.

Parallax Websites
Dan: A lot of home pages are getting very long and some are eliminating navigation altogether. It all plays into the buyer personas and how you want to tell you story on the home page. Though it has been around for awhile, parallax websites will continue to become more relevant to tell your story on your website. With the wide adoption of flat design, the parallax element can add a new user experience in a way that will help guide the visitor through your content.

What resources will a designer need to be successful in inbound marketing in 2014?

Walt: There’s going to be a rise in standalone applications for designers. They’re supposed to be able to do things that the tools we typically use can’t. For example Macaw is one that lets you design the site as you would in Photoshop, and then it creates the code for you on the fly. These software developers are coming up with some cool apps, and it’s going to be interesting to see what they can do and how/if these tools will be useful for designers.

What is the one thing designers need to know to be successful in 2014?

Walt: I think as a designer you always need to be thinking ahead. You always have to think about every single possible outcome, especially with the all the new devices people are using everyday. I’ve designed a lot of sites, and a year later they are unusable because a new device came out and the design doesn’t work anymore. You have to think ahead and ask yourself—“Is this design going to easily adapt to any device that could be released in the next year?” Everything needs to be malleable and re-formattable.

Dan: Design smart and know that more screen resolutions are coming out and more devices are coming out. Think about every possible outcome of your design.

Stay tuned for our remaining Q&As on 2014 inbound marketing trends in the areas of consulting and technology with experts from the Kuno Creative team. Subscribe to the Brand & Capture blog now so you don’t miss these discussions with some of the brightest minds in inbound marketing.

What changes do you anticipate for content marketing in 2014? Share your predictions below!


JenniferKingBCKG 1Jennifer King is a Brand Journalist with Kuno Creative, where she applies her unique skills as a journalist to develop engaging content for B2B clients. Her work has appeared in authoritative online publications such as Lifehacker, Forbes and Great Place to Work. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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Additional Topics: Content and Design