I've noticed a recent shift toward an amalgam of popular forms of social media, apps, and blog layouts informing the way we now read, take in visuals and shop a bevy of websites, with a far-flung reach of this style being applied across the board from high to mass fashion.
This new popularity of design can be described as a mash-up of simplified tabs, pages, scrolling, white background, and personal imagery features found in many blogs, alongside the layouts of Pinterest and Instagram.
For some prime site examples that do a nice job of crossing over the various media platforms into their selling formats are The Line, My Theresa, Net-a-Porter, Luisa via Roma, Forever 21, and Topshop.
Noticeable is a strong visual interweaving of the customer experience, largely pulled in via social media or a proprietary platform at the site that mimics the look and feel of a Pinterest board or Instagram feed, with short tidbits of text accompanied by strong visuals. Images certainly do the talking, at times even flashing, competing for your attention to lure you in via a collage of artful options to click through and shop, with the subtext subtly pronouncing the categories, such as new arrivals, trends, particular brands, on sale, and runways looks.
As magazines and ecommerce sites are politely infringing on some of the signature traits of blogs and utilizing social media to more directly sell (see what Free People does, here), how does this impact bloggers?
Here's a few ways that we as the blogging community can think about it, and react:
Remember That All Things Eventually Fade Away
The old adage goes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I don't disagree, however, what's next? Just like any other trend, this one will eventually feel stale and fizzle, so what is the next aesthetic movement when it comes to digital visual appeal? Stay on the look out for the next movement in visuals, so that you can adapt and shift with the change. Although we know better than to judge a book by its cover (sorry, another adage, I couldn't help myself!), we definitely do when it comes to first impressions and websites. Stay abreast of the changes and developments so that you can always be prepared to do some site refreshes, large or small, to stay on the cusp of the cutting edge in website aesthetics for your blog.
Make Your Point Of Differentiation
I don't think that all websites should be homogenous, and cookie cutter, however, I'd like to argue that a lot of the good ones have unifying characteristics that attract our attention as readers/viewers. I think this is a very good thing to keep in mind, and while you search for and identify the visual harmony of the new trend that these sites are displaying, keep your eyes peeled sd well for sites that are doing it well and creatively and setting them apart from the rest. Think about what that may mean for you and your blog, and how you can make a few elements of your site set you apart from the rest as well. It can be simple, like a different color besides the traditional blue/purple/black on hyperlinks, or more complex, imagining a new way to cross-promote your experiences on social media or content layout.
Don't Forget to Play the Part of the Reader
It's so easy to get caught up in the back end and logistics, our insider know-how, biases, and critical eyes, and forget what it's like to merely being a reader (or customer) and visiting a site! If you do sell products from your site, take a nod from some of the retailers mentioned above, and navigate their sites from the perspective of a potential customer and see how it plays out, perhaps incorporating or tweaking some of those elements for the ecommerce portion of your own site. Likewise, no matter how new or old your site design is, pretend that you are new to the site, viewing it for the first time with fresh eyes (or ask someone to do it for you) , and test out how easy it is to find the essentials, like social media icons, a search box, an “about the site” and “contact” page or info, and scrolling through the different options.