It’s the beginning of a new year, and if you’re like most coaches, you are either thinking about creating a website or updating the one you have. You want a website that is usable, beautiful, and marketable – not one that will look old-fashioned in a few months.
If you’ve tried researching web design trends online, you probably found your eyes glazing over as you read information specifically written to programmers, graphic designers, and developers. But don’t worry, you won’t get that in this article.
Below is a summary of the web design trends that are especially relevant to coaching websites for solo-preneur or small business coaches. And there’s lots of good news for you in 2013.
Trend #1 – WordPress Sites
This isn’t a new trend, but a continuation of a transition that started in 2008 from custom designed HTML sites to WordPress sites. The beauty of a WordPress coaching website is that it will usually take care of all the other trends below, especially if you use a great WordPress theme.
Today’s WordPress themes can be customized with your graphics to give you the same premium look that custom HTML sites did 5 years ago. And you’ll get the same great look at a fraction of the price and with tons more features.
If you want a beautiful, easy to use website that clearly reflects your branding and services, WordPress is the way to go.
Trend #2 – Mobile Friendly Sites
This trend started in 2010 with the launch of the Apple iPad. According to Apple, they sold more iPads in the fourth quarter of 2011 than ANY manufacturing company sold in PCs – including desktops, laptops, and other tablets. That’s a lot of iPads.
What does this mean for coaches? If you are sending any emails with links back to your website, you need a mobile friendly site. Why? Because a lot of your prospects are checking their emails on mobile devices. (I know I do.) And if they can’t view your site on it, they’ll leave.
Most of the better WordPress themes are now incorporating mobile friendly site design. They call it “responsive web design”; you may have heard of it. The WordPress themes I use have been mobile friendly since 2009.
Trend #3 – Multi-device Design
Before 2010, I used to design site content very precisely – carefully wrapping text and sizing images to look just right on a desktop monitor. The biggest challenge was getting it to look good in multiple browsers.
Now the challenge is even harder. You want your site to look good on lots of different mobile devices, laptops, and computers. Some people will view your site on large desktop monitors. Others will view your site on their smartphone or tablet.
Thankfully, I have found that responsive ready WordPress themes handle this problem for you pretty well. They resize the text automatically so that your content can be read even on very small screens.
But resizing text alone isn’t enough. You also want a site that incorporates web site trend #4.
Trend #4 – Grid Based Layouts
We are seeing more and more sites with a grid-based design using building blocks that allow for better viewing on various mobile devices. You’ll find many WordPress themes that incorporate this look.
You’ll also want to combine the grid-based layout with a minimalistic look. This trend continues to be popular, and Microsoft’s Metro design and Pinterest’s layout are good examples. But you’ll also see them on many coaching websites with content divided into 2 or 3 columns and with the use of sidebars.
Trend #5 – Branding
You’re going to see more sites focusing on a company’s branding rather than on being “trendy.” Your coaching website should definitely do the same. Branding allows you to stand apart from every other coach offering similar services. And great branding attracts clients to you.
Examples of how branding will be more prominent on coaching websites include:
- homepage featured sections that use the entire top portion of the screen
- slider presentations with large images, typography, and/or videos
- featured logos and site designs that enhance the branding message
Trend #6 – Social Media
No surprises here – Social Media is still popular. And to make it easy for you, most WordPress themes already incorporate various social media icons for you to use. If you don’t like those, there is a plethora of WP plugins to choose from.
In addition to popularity, search engines, such as Google, also pay a lot of attention to social media buzz about a site. So having a lot of social media likes, links, posts, etc. can help your search engine rankings.
But before you go wild and plaster social media icons all over your site like a cluttered bulletin board (I really don’t like those), let’s back up a minute and take a look at the big picture. Ask yourself, “What is the #1 purpose of my site? For prospects to get to know me and my services? Or is my goal to generate social buzz?”
For most coaches, your top priority for your website will be for prospects to get to know, like, and trust you – for them to find out more about your services. So use the social media icons. But use them with discretion so they don’t distract people from your content.
Trend #7 – Larger Buttons and Text
This is definitely a trend towards mobile friendly websites. Your navigation links and buttons should be easy to access on a small screen.
Regarding text, you may have noticed that text size on sites started getting smaller in 2008 and 2009. That turned around in 2010 with the launch of the iPod. Today, you can find many sites with font sizes of 14, 16, and even 18 pixels. I currently use a medium size, 14 pixel Verdana font for my paragraphs because it is much easier to read on Mac computer screens.
Trend #8 – Typography and Pictures
Large typography is still hot. This is an ongoing trend that looks like it will continue strong in 2013.
Large, clear pictures are still very popular. However, you want to reduce file sizes so the pages can load into the browser quickly.
Trend #9 – Video
Because video is so easy to insert into most WordPress themes, you will see an increase in the use of video on coaching websites. It’s a wonderful way to help people get to know you and the services you offer.
If you’re looking to create a new site or simply update your own site, you can do so with a good WordPress theme that has a responsive design so it is mobile friendly. That alone will incorporate most of the above trends.
In the ten years I’ve been designing websites, I’ve seen a lot of changes in design standard, site features, and coding. The good news is that building a great looking website with tons of features has never been easier, thanks to the WordPress platform combined with a great theme.
Best wishes on creating your fabulous and trendy new coaching website.
For a list of themes that I like and recommend, see my article “How to Choose a Great WordPress Theme for Your Coaching Website.”