7 Cutting Edge Web Design Trends (that Can Actually Improve SEO) Super User
As the worlds of web design and SEO merge ever closer, we've been seeing design-specific elements produce a positive impact on SEO for the sites that employ them. It's terrific news for SEOs who love design and are capable of and passionate about making it part of their repertoire. It's also great for designers who find that as they evolved from Flash designs to machine-readable CSS and separated markup from content, they've earned more links and more organic search love.
In this post, I'll walk through examples of those design practices in use and describe how they can help improve your opportunity for organic search rankings and traffic.
#1 - Designing that Elicits & Conveys Emotion
A phenomenal article from Aarron Walter of Mailchimp on ThinkVitamin - Emotional Interface Design: The Gateway to Passionate Users - deeply explores the trend of designers using their talents to imprint emotion on users. Personally, I love this practice, and professionally, I see it as incredibly valuable for SEO, too.
Rather than simply providing a user with information, these sites attempt to convey a sense of the companies, products and services they represent in a tangible way.
For McMiller's Sweets, below, the website expresses the brand's humor, whimsy and obsession with their product. I only wish I could buy online - there'd be a few boxes headed for the SEOmoz offices right now.
When users are emotionally invested in the websites they visit, they're more likely to:
Invest in the Experience
Browse more Pages
All of these have either first or second-order impacts on SEO in a positive way.
#2 - The Scroll-Triggered Call-to-Action
Sometimes, you don't want to overwhelm content with calls-to-action... At least, not until you're fairly certain your visitor has finished reading. That's where the brilliance of the scroll-triggered call-to-action comes in.
Browse any article on the New York Times website and you'll see this behavior in action, driving you to read the next article in the series only after you've reached the bottom of the current piece:
#3 - User Badges
If your users are passionate about your site and their experience or participation, why not make it easy to share?
For years, sites have been offering users the virtual incentives of points, badges and status to encourage greater participation. Andrew Follet from Concept Feedback authored a brilliant piece analyzing this precise behavior and exposing some terrific examples.
We've noticed an interesting behavior as it relates to user badges as well, and it's spurred me to whiteboard the following chart numerous times for those who have online communities considering SEO:
#4 - The Animated HTML Multiheader
I wrote about the multiheader a long time ago, and the evolution of design has made them tremendously more compelling and useful since then. Case-in-point, Unbounce, who has 5 different messages/features on their homepage all accessible to engines and all part of a single multiheader. I've screencaptured them elegantly "swooshing" in and out of the headline position:
#5 - Sexy, Embeddable Infographics
Infographic linkbait is certainly all the rage these days, and I think it's a well-justified trend. The brilliant part is that you benefit by producing the infographic and other bloggers benefit by sharing it and attracting views, attention and links of their own. So long as the embed works seemlessly and the infographic is compelling, you're off to the link acquisition races.
Some examples I enjoyed came from Smashing Magazine, who put together this piece on programming (and the how-to behind it's creation):
#6 - Designing Around Illustration (with CSS)
It used to be that I'd see a website built around illustrations and artistry and shake my head in sadness, knowing that the beauty of the UI was unlikely to be experienced by anyone except those coming via type-in. Today, with the amazing progress of CSS, sites like Carbon Made can have their design cake and eat their SEO, too.
#7 - Creative Content Formats Unleashed
Sometimes, you visit a site that stands out from everything else you've seen on the web in the past. Historically, many of those sites have also been tragically obscured from search engines. Nowadays, a new breed is emerging, showing off massive creativity, brilliance in design innovation and a compelling combination of link-worthiness and search-accessibility.