As someone who has been helping businesses like construction companies, home builders, and more with their online marketing needs for many years, I'm always struck by the way some people seem to make the same mistakes over and over again when it comes to design.

Sometimes people lean too heavily into the visual part of their pages, to the point where it seems like nothing else matters. Other people embrace the opposite extreme, where they cram their sites with so much information that the design part of it feels like an afterthought.

In truth, success is absolutely found somewhere in the middle between those two ideas—and these website design trends that you need to be aware of for 2020 go a long way toward proving that.

The Era of Voice-Based SEO is Upon Us

One of the most important website design trends to be aware of in 2020 actually has less to do with the visual part of your page and is more about another one of your senses entirely.

According to one recent study, nearly 50% of all users—and smartphone users, in particular—were using voice for web-based searches as of 2019. Nearly 85% of those who responded to a survey say that they use nothing more than their voice to control their smartphones on a regular basis. Another 39% were using voice on smart speakers located in and around their homes, with Apple's HomePod and products by Amazon being among the biggest examples.

This of course illustrates the importance of voice search engine optimization—that is, the optimization of not only keywords but also key phrases on your sites for searches using voice assistants like Siri and Alexa.

If you are a construction industry professional operating out of Cleveland, in the past, your SEO needs were essentially taken care of by making sure keywords like "construction business Cleveland" were on your page as many times as possible. Then, Google changed the game to emphasize longer phrases with more specificity, which is how the above example transitioned into something along the lines of "the best construction business in Cleveland, Ohio" for the benefit of users.

Now, voice-based SEO takes things one step further by allowing for optimization that is far more conversational in nature. When you optimize the design of your website to take into consideration things like voice searches, you need to rely on keywords and phrases that people would use when they're talking to a voice assistant rather than typing on a keyboard. People talk differently than they type—there really is no getting around that. Companies like Apple and Amazon have already said that the end goal of so many of these smart assistants is that people will be able to communicate with them just as easily as they could a friend sitting in the same room.

Therefore, it's absolutely in your best interest to lean directly into that fact, creating a design that supports the use of these voice-based SEO key phrases. It's been said that the nuances of voice search help both search engines like Google AND marketers better understand exactly what customers are looking for, thus providing them with more accurate results along the way.

By building voice SEO optimization into the design of your website today, you're in a far better position than many of your competitors and you’ll be ahead as the technology advances.

The "Less is More" Approach to Design

Another one of the key website design trends to be aware of is the idea that "less is more." Rather than cramming your website and landing pages with as much information as possible, a lot of businesses are finding a tremendous amount of success by embracing not only as much white space as possible, but large, oversized type and elements that better communicate important ideas both clearly and instantaneously.

If you take a look at any website that has been re-designed or launched in the last six months, you'll probably find a few common elements. Not only will you see big, bright, bold typography, but you'll also be greeted by a lot of full screen images and videos. You might even see oversized website menu icons and other things of that nature.

Rather than being a purely aesthetic choice, this technique actually helps accomplish a few different goals, essentially all at the same time. For starters, it again simplifies the experience you're offering and makes it easier to navigate your page. Don't forget that any step you can take to make it easier for people to find what they're looking for is a step that is absolutely worth taking.

But in the long run, websites with this type of design look great on a desktop or laptop computer and they often look even better on devices with smaller screens (and touch screen interfaces) like smartphones and tablets. So, in a way, it's just a logical extension of a lot of the responsive web design best practices you really should be following in the first place.

Rather than going overly-simplistic with your design for the sake of appealing to all users at once, you can still launch something that looks sleek and sophisticated no matter where the users are seeing it—thus improving the quality of the experience that your business is able to offer them.

A Realignment of Priorities

Finally, over the last few years, we've seen a major shift away from the very principles that website design best practices are built on. In the early days of the Internet, it was very much a "style over substance" situation for most organizations. With the rise in prominence of search engines like Google, that quickly gave way to sites that were designed and optimized to provide as much raw value to visitors as possible.

That has essentially shifted again, to the point where the design of your business' website needs to be influenced not by its visual look, but by the type of UX that makes people want to interact with your organization in the first place.

These days, you need to focus on elements like:

  • Usefulness. You need to provide as much original content as you can that fulfills your visitor's needs in the most effective way possible.
  • Usability. As outlined above, your site should be easy to use on both desktops AND mobile devices.
  • Desirability. Your website needs to visually reflect not only your business and its values, but what you can do for people that nobody else can.
  • Credibility. Your design should also look professional enough to convey that you're the trusted industry authority that you know you are.

These are the things you need to be thinking about before you ever select a layout, color scheme, or other purely "visual" elements. If any design decision you make contradicts any of those four core qualities, your website will be ineffective, and you’ll end up revising it down the road.

Overall, website design is in a constant state of evolution and the best practices of today may be woefully inadequate a year or two from now. Having said that, all three of these website design trends give you an excellent place to start when it comes to building the type of digital presence that will resonate with the members of your target audience.