The homepage is the front door to an online publication, but good web design shouldn’t end once readers come inside. The latest web design trends enhance the value of local publications and make visitors want to stay around for longer.
In fact, some experts even believe good web design is a competitive advantage for local news publishers.
The latest web design trends have local publishers thinking outside the box and considering new ways to change the way people consume news online. For example, more publishers are soliciting feedback from subscribers, members, and other longtime readers, and then integrating that feedback into their website redesign projects. The collaboration between publishers, designers, and readers themselves has led to some interesting trends in the web publishing community over the course of the past year.
Here’s a peek at some of the biggest web design trends popping up in local publishing right now.
1. Web mimics print
Wired and Bloomberg are just a few publishing outlets that have married their print and digital editions with a cohesive design. Adopting the elements of print design for the web means using large images and bold headlines, and giving major real estate to the biggest story of the day. Cohesive color palettes and fonts are important here, as well, as they can tie together the print and digital publication even if the layout itself is quite different.
At the local publishing level, this is one of the web design trends that we see most often at regional and city magazines, which are more likely to still have print editions than hyperlocal news publications.
2. Article pages emphasize loyalty
How can web design influence reader loyalty? That was a question The Atlantic grappled with as the media company embarked on a redesign of its article pages earlier this year. The solution that The Atlantic came up with is quickly becoming one of the hottest web design trends in local publishing — dynamically inserted promotional units within the first three paragraphs of most articles.
You can read more about The Atlantic’s redesign process here. Earlier this year, after an extensive redesign, the company added a dedicated promotional unit that plugs Atlantic products to readers based on any information The Atlantic can collect. For example, a reader who is visiting The Atlantic’s website for the first time might see an invitation to subscribe to its newsletter in the first three paragraphs of a an article.
Rather than rely on popup ads, The Atlantic is following the latest web design trends by embedding its promotional unit in actual articles.
3. Increase in visual content
Words matter, but so do all the visual elements that keep readers on a website. Photographs, videos, slideshows, and other forms of multimedia content snatch up a reader’s attention in a way that plain text sometimes cannot. Designers are understanding this more and more, and they’re placing increased emphasis on these elements as they lay out a publisher’s website.
As far as web design trends go, the push toward increased integration of visual content into local publishers’ websites is a no brainer. When visual content is integrated into a website, it’s more likely to be viewed and less likely to stand out as an afterthought or a sore thumb.
4. Letting content breathe
The early 2000s were a time of cluttered media homepages, where dozens of similarly sized headlines battled for attention. Not any more. The latest web design trends have that aesthetic giving way to clean, clear, fresh homepages.
Buttons and navigation features are growing larger, as is the negative space on homepages and article pages. The Harvard Business Review’s website offers a good example of this modern publishing aesthetic.
5. Straightforward navigation
One of the biggest mistakes we see publishers make is failing to lead visitors from one article to another. The longer readers stick around a website, and the more content they consume on each visit, the greater the chances they will pay for a subscription or a membership.
When readers get lost on the way from one article to another, that often boils down to poor choices in website design.
“Read Next” stickies that pop up near the end of articles—like the kind we added to Street Fight’s article pages during a redesign project earlier this year—are an effective way to guide readers from one article to another. This feature also enables publishers to display more information in a tight space.