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Why does design matter? Simple: SEO-friendly web design gets more visitors to visit and spend time on your website, improving your SEO, which brings even more traffic. It’s the best kind of feedback loop — the kind that helps your business grow.

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Kaleidico likes to keep an eye on where digital web design is going, helping our clients get the most out of their websites. Last year, much of the emphasis was on responsive web design — meeting the increasing need for web users to serve websites beautifully and functionally on mobile devices. That’s still important, but today, we thought we’d touch on four other trends emerging for SEO-friendly design.

Typography: Bold and Classic

In some ways, typography is getting bigger and bolder. Just look at many of the bold, large-font web banners and headings in use, often paired with big full-screen imagery. The impression is often eye-catching and powerful, even on a small mobile screen. That means that more users are reading your content and clicking through to consume more. A very good recipe for great SEO.

On the other hand, web typography for body copy is growing up, becoming more sophisticated or returning to older traditional or classic roots. Yes, serif fonts are back in a big way. For years, it seemed like Helvetica was everywhere – because it was. But many designers are now taking advantage of new, modern serif fonts, like Slab Tall X, Justus, and Novello. These serif fonts make for easier reading than their san-serif cousins, meaning visitors have all the more reason to deeply engage with your content.

Imagery: Originality and Animations

Visual components are a very important part of web content and play a larger role in SEO than many realize, due to their potential to impact on user behavior. Overall, imagery seems to be moving away from the generic. For website photography, generic stock photography is in decline. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever for your team to make high-quality visuals in-house. On the other, more photographers are licensing their work via liberal Creative Commons licensing or placing it in the public domain for added exposure.

A lot of websites are also taking advantage of animation opportunities. From animated call-to-action buttons to cinemagraph hero images and everything in between, businesses are finding that such elements can animate users to spend more time on pages and even improve conversions.

Color: Natural Colors and Simplified Palettes

In January, the color trendsetters at the Pantone Color Institute named “Greenery,” an easy-going, outdoorsy yellow-green their Color of the Year for 2017. At the time, the experts noted the color symbolized new beginnings and modern vitality. Designers have followed suit with lots of natural and neutral tones, after a previous trend of bright colors.

The natural trend has paired with a trend towards simplicity, with color palettes of only a few colors. This is about more than visual aesthetics though, as an increase in white space and a limited palette of colors lets designers send users’ eyes exactly where they’re needed — on CTAs, key content pieces, branding, and features and benefits lists.

The website real estate above-the-fold, that is, visible when the page loads before the user starts scrolling, can have a big impact on your SEO. After all, for many, it’s this first impression that can affect your bounce rate and time on page metrics. Overlapping content is one trend taking off in 2017, though it isn’t just about throwing some text on top of a stock photo. This trend is about customized design that takes into account the overall desired impression — where you want your visitor’s eyes to go first.

Another above-the-fold element getting a refresh is the navigation menu. According to some, the hamburger icon is getting stale, with some designers saying it causes “friction” between the user and where he wants to navigate to. Enter the meganav, or mega navigation menu, a feature that drop-down navigation or multiple hierarchical menus. The idea is that users will be able to see more potential content destinations and engage longer with your site.

Final Thoughts

Web design isn’t just about looking good or being trendy. Great design grabs attention and gets your users to engage with your website, to convert, and to become loyal customers. Trendy design elements help your design feel modern, timely, and professional — all key to staying ahead of competitors. Finally, the elements of a great updated web design will help improve your SEO, as more users engage with your site, telling Google and other search engines you have the content and value that search users are looking for, and improving your SEO even further. It’s a beneficial cycle that all starts with a simple refresh or update to your website.