The term modern can be subjective. Maybe you consider interactive content to be a modern element; or having a responsive design lets you know that the website owner is current on SEO best practices. And if you’re in an industry that relies on cutting-edge technology (such as SaaS), then you’re definitely expecting a site to incorporate modern components.
However, something most people can agree on is that a website that looks like it was designed in the late 90s/early 2000s will never give off state-of-the-art vibes. This is also the case if a site loads slowly or it’s difficult to navigate (prompting you to go to a competitor’s site instead).
If you’re wondering whether your site needs much needed updates, you’ve come to the right place. Get some coffee, play some nice background music, and start reading.
User experience (UX) is non-negotiable. This refers to how easy or intuitive it is for website visitors to interact with your site. If it’s a pleasant experience, they’ll stay around longer, clicking where you want them to click and taking other desired actions. When your UX strategy is effective, you reap the following benefits:
It Captures Their Attention
What happens above the fold really does affect the entire user experience. It only takes 0.05 seconds for a visitor to decide whether or not they'll stick around on your website. Therefore, that first impression counts and you have to grab their attention!
It's important to include high-quality imagery, easy-to-read typography, and to be cohesive in your design. Clutter will only detract a visitor and force them to click out of your site.
It Guides Them Down the Page
A well-designed website will know how to keep the reader scrolling. Often, this means breaking up content into smaller chunks, including visual hierarchy with banner images, fonts, and supporting elements, and utilizing white space.
It Increases Functionality
How your website functions is also a huge factor in overall user experience. Responsive web design makes sure that your website looks and functions the same no matter what device a website visitor is on — desktop, laptop, tablet, or a smartphone of any size.
It Showcases Professionalism
Outdated and tacky websites won't cut it anymore. A great website design will present your business as professional, clean, and often can help you seem more reliable. It proves that you know what you are doing and you can present your business in a clear, professional manner.
It Promotes Trust
94 percent of people won't trust an outdated website. Therefore, it’s crucial to consistently update and refine your design and content is key to pleasing consumers.
Here are some of the elements of great website design with examples to help inspire you to create your own beautiful modern website design.
1. A Strong, But Limited, Color Palette
Color schemes and usage are essential when it comes to modern web design. A strong color palette helps create cohesiveness.
Companies that have both primary and secondary colors have more wiggle room when creating new elements for their website — whether it’s the homepage, landing pages, blogs, or a resource database.
However, the number of colors you incorporate in your design is also an important aspect. Too many colors become visually distracting, so most modern website designs opt for only two — or at the most three — in their major design elements.
Simplifying the color scheme of your site makes it easier for web visitors to focus on your message, which is why there are minimal color combinations in modern website designs. For example, Snipcart's website has a simple and attractive dark gray, white, and yellow color scheme.
Bonus tip: If you struggle with everything starting to look repetitive on more content-rich pages, you can experiment with different shades and tints of your current colors. This will add a little variety to your designs while keeping consistent with your brand. Just make sure to provide your design team with your brand guidelines to remain consistent with all of your marketing materials.
2. Plenty of White Space
White space is attractive and keeps your site clean and easy to read. But don’t feel limited by its name. It doesn't necessarily have to be white.
White space is a term used for the amount of empty space that acts as a buffer between all the elements on your page — including copy, sidebar, margins, etc. Things should have room to breathe. If your website is crowded, visitors will feel overwhelmed and won’t know where to focus their attention.
Pocket Penguins uses whitespace that is aesthetically pleasing and provides organization. Further down on the homepage, they introduce the books they sell using quotes from some of their classics.
Purposely designing your website with white space makes for a clean design that is easily digestible and organized. As websites are adapting a more minimalistic style, keeping space open on your page will allow your reader to navigate their way around the page with more ease.
3. Responsive Images
As you’ve likely noticed is a recurring theme, a good website should be able to attract your attention and guide your eyes down the page.
One way to do this is to incorporate high-quality, vivid images. Take HelloFresh's homepage for example. The minute you enter their site, you are captivated with a pop of color and several images of delicious fresh food that make users want to start cooking fresh meals just like the ones in the pictures.
Incorporating visually appealing images throughout your website can ensure that visitors will keep looking around.
4. Hero Banner
The hero banner is that prominent visual element you first see when you visit a website’s homepage. Some sites incorporate beautiful imagery, a carousel of images, or a video showcasing the technologies they’re most known for.
There are several things you should keep in mind, regardless of the format of your hero banner. Make sure it’s visually appealing. Use your brand colors and incorporate text that’s easy to read. Use high-resolution images that are responsive to all screen sizes — you want to make sure the website looks attractive regardless of whether a person is visiting from a 16” MacBook Pro or a smartphone. Avoid using stock images. And include a call to action (CTA) to entice readers to engage with your site from the first moment they visit it.
5. Clear Calls to Action
Speaking of calls to action, converting visitors into leads and customers is a crucial requirement of modern website designs.
Here's why: Websites are meant to connect you with the people who are interested in your content, products, and services. Once this connection is made, you want to retain some sort of relationship with these visitors.
Conversion paths start with enticing gated content, like email newsletter subscriptions, free downloadable ebooks or whitepapers, free product forms, free consultations, or other exclusive invites. These paths are successful when they include great calls to action.
These should be strategically incorporated into your website design and are very important for gathering the contact information (at least an email address) of your visitors so that you can continue conversations with them as leads and convert them into customers.
For instance, Epic, the digital reading library for kids, has three unassuming but attractive CTAs on the homepage that are well placed. These CTAs also cater to Epic's specific target audience: parents and educators.
Include relevant CTAs in optimal places throughout your website — definitely on your homepage, at the end of blog posts, in the sidebars, and in your resources page, to name a few.
6. Cohesive Card Design
The use of cards has grown in popularity, especially among those seeking a more minimalistic website design.
Cards help visitors consume your content in a simplified way by grouping together text and imagery to form one eye-catching elements.
Help Scout effectively added cards throughout their website to create a simplistic grid design that is organized and user friendly.
Bold graphic images are accompanied by simple titles to help inform readers what they can expect to read when clicking on one of their guides.
Utilizing cards in your website design can help you attain a clean, organized look while keeping user experience at top of mind by appropriately sectioning off your content into bite-sized pieces.
7. High Quality Product Videos
As video marketing continues to grow in popularity among both B2C and B2B businesses, many companies have started adding product videos to their website.
Doing this can help highlight your brand's personality and show off what your business has to offer to your customers.
In addition, 92 percent of B2B customers watch online videos, and 43 percent watch online videos when researching services and products for their business. Therefore, it’s clear that this format has a significant impact on customers’ decision-making process.
Shorter videos allow for your top-of-the-funnel prospects to quickly understand value without watching a really long, in-depth explanation.
Fort has an intuitive video that starts going through various slides with attractive product pictures on it. You can slide your cursor over the Play Reel CTA to stop or play the video.
Place videos strategically around your website — maybe on your pricing page to talk about your options, on your product page to showcase their features, or on your About Us page to introduce your team to everyone.
8. Clean Backend Coding
This modern website design element is one that you might not notice visually, but it’s probably the most important when it comes to the functionality of your site.
Behind every website is a great deal of coding in the backend that will dictate how your site performs.
You want to hire highly skilled designers who know how to code a site to function flawlessly, load quickly, and navigate effectively for converting visitors into leads and customers.
Dedicating the extra time for clean backend coding will make it easier to write, read, and maintain how your site functions.
Like a cluttered closet, if you don’t have clean backend coding, it will only be harder to locate and fix any issues that may come up.
9. User-Friendly Design
This element of modern website design is exactly what it sounds like: You should build your site for the user; not just to boost your rankings. Companies, out of a sense of desperation to get better rankings, tend to do things that are “good” for Google but bad for the user.
However, this shouldn’t be the hierarchy of importance for website design. A site should be user friendly before a company should concern itself with ranking higher on a search engine results page.
For instance, Quiver is an incredibly well-designed site that is effortlessly user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Also, Google’s algorithms are pretty smart: They can tell when your users are getting good value from your website because they keep coming back and spending more time on it. Place your content above SEO (although, by all means, do incorporate search engine optimization practices). But prioritizing value and ease for your readers is what will keep them on your site, and coming back for more.
10. SEO Boosting Elements
While we’re on the topic of SEO, there are modern website design elements that can greatly improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of your site. A lot of these are invisible to the naked eye and also appear in the backend coding of your pages and posts.
Design tricks like meta tags, title tags, heading tags, and other HTML coding go a long way in helping your site climb the ranks of Google's search engine.
Make sure you fill out, tweak, and optimize these elements so they are relevant to your site and improve your search ranking.
11. Speed Optimization
Optimizing for speed is an imperative design element that should never be overlooked. In fact, it’s also part of any effective marketer’s SEO best practices list.
With today’s technology, people expect things to load immediately, or they’ll probably throw in the towel three seconds later and go to a competitor’s website instead.
As a business, you don’t want leads and prospects to think negatively about your brand just because your website is slow.
To make sure your site is fully optimized for speed, follow these tips:
- Always optimize a photo, no matter how small it is.
- Enable compression so files will be smaller and open quicker.
- Minimize HTTP requests in Google Chrome’s Developer Tools.
- Choose the proper hosting options, whether it's shared hosting, VPS hosting, or a dedicated server.
You also need to consider your mobile site speed. Most people today visit websites from their mobile devices, and you want them to encounter a good UX while doing it.
12. Scannable Format
Nobody likes to read blocks of text — especially on websites. If your web visitors want to read a novel, they will do so (however, do keep in mind that all good writers break their text into paragraphs).
When it comes to visiting a business site, 79 percent of people simply scan the pages. While some do read it word-for-word, they remain the minority, and you want to cater to everyone in your target demographics.
In addition to making it easier for readers, using a scannable format earns you proverbial SEO points; so incorporate headings and subheadings and bulleted lists whenever it makes sense to do so. Remember to insert a few keywords in those H1s and H2s, too.
13. Minimalist Design
Minimalistic designs remove all unnecessary distractors. While they can seem pretty basic, they are an effective way to get web visitors to take a desired action. We’ll bring up Apple again because they are masters at doing this well. Most of the page is white. You see their newest gadgets, and you can purchase them with a simple click. If you want to browse through more content, you can always play around with their navigation bar, but their main purpose is to focus your attention on the new toy on the block.
14. Interactive Elements
Modern websites often provide interactive elements. This can be done in the form of quizzes, calculators, polls, maps, webinars, and ebooks. In addition to keeping web visitors engaged, it also lets you gather useful information to provide a more personalized experience.
If you decide to go for lengthier elements, such as having them enroll in a webinar or download an eBook, make sure to ask for their email address in exchange for the lead magnet. This helps you grow your email list while at the same time providing them value.
15. Personalized Content
Someone who’s at the bottom of your sales funnel doesn’t need to see the same content as a first-time website visitor. In fact, personalizing content is a more effective way to drive conversions. It also lets readers see that you’re doing everything within your power to provide them with value.
A good way to do this is with a smart content load. This tool tracks users’ circumstances to display content that’s relevant to them. This includes factors such as their geographical location, device type, their history interacting with your site, ads they have clicked on, etc…
This saves them time and guides them along their buyer’s journey in a more effective way.
People love instant gratification. And while most websites include a Frequently Asked Questions section, sometimes, web visitors either don’t have the time or desire to browse through it, or they have a unique query. Instead of making them wait a few days for an email response, chatbots lets them get their answer straight away.
This element also makes things easier for your team, since it frees up their time to focus on more complex issues. If it turns out someone is indeed asking a terribly complex question, it can be routed to one of your customer service reps for a more detailed reply. Granted, this is possible if you use a good customer support platform that integrates with your site.
17. Micro Animations
Micro animations are movable displays that showcase a specific feature. Think of a short animation showing viewers how to do something (think of a short screen recording or a moving infographic). They’re an effective way to guide website visitors’ eyes towards a specific point on your web pages.
Granted, you could just make a bulleted list of instructions, but micro animations are a lot easier to understand. It’s also easier to get them to focus their attention on it than simply telling them to read something that could potentially be difficult to understand without visuals.
18. Dark Mode
You’ve likely seen the dark mode feature on popular platforms like Google and Facebook. It makes reading more comfortable by reducing blue light and enables web visitors to modify the interface to their preference.
Some websites allow users to set it to dark mode any time they visit it, while others automatically switch to it at night. Either way, they get to relax their eyesight while they consume your content, so it enhances the user experience.
This feature is even more useful for website visitors using their mobile devices, as it requires less energy, thus reducing its drain on the battery.
Dark mode can also up the coolness factor on websites for businesses whose brand colors pop even better against the black backdrop.
19. Web Textures
The term web texture refers to background images that make a webpage look three dimensional. The purpose of doing this is to evoke a certain emotion from the reader. Think of how visiting a website with a background of crumpled paper for a company that creates wireframes or gives the impression of having spiderwebs when showcasing them at close range to emphasize its details.
Web textures are also a great way to guide a users’ attention to a specific point on the webpage. While this trend looks good and makes your site stand out, keep in mind that overdoing it may look distracting or slow down your page loading times.
20. Parallax Effects
Parallax refers to when the background of a website seems to move at a much slower pace than the content you’re scrolling through. It really is an optical illusion to give the impression that objects in the background are further away.
This is an effective way to showcase a product in 3D, or simply make your website look more fun or interactive. The Bite toothpaste’s website does this halfway down their homepage
However, just as with web textures, this type of design could slow down your page loading times if not used sparingly. Make sure to work with highly experienced web developers when implementing this concept so that you get your modern website look without having it affect your SEO.
While all of the elements listed above are fun and effective, you can pick and choose whichever ones you’d prefer — or leave most of them out of the page if it better suits your needs. However, there are certain components every single modern website must implement:
Users who come to your website should have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their interactions with you are secure. After all, landing pages ask for full names and contact information, and eCommerce pages require entering sensitive data, such as credit card numbers and mailing addresses.
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate secure online transactions by encrypting information — both at rest and while in transit. This prevents unauthorized third parties from intercepting or accessing any user data.
Accessibility for Disabled Users
You want to ensure that you eliminate any barriers that would make it difficult for a website visitor to navigate through your site. This includes those who may be visually or hearing impaired. It also takes into account users with diminished senses due to age.
You can do this by incorporating alt text for images. Include a description of all photos, so that people using e-readers can know what’s displayed on your webpages. You can also add subtitles to video content and allow for font resizing.
Another good practice is to create content in HTML to make it easier for screen readers to scan your webpages.
Let’s go over this one again, so that you truly understand its importance. Ensuring that your website displays well on smaller screens accomplishes several purposes — all of them affecting your conversion rate.
- The site will load faster.
- It’ll keep users on your page.
- It increases user engagement.
- It improves user experience.
- It increases your chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs)
So even if you have a small budget, make sure to prioritize this element. It’ll increase your ROI.
Here are 10 companies with the best modern website designs that include many of the awesome elements mentioned above.
1. Brit + Co
We've talked about Brit + Co in the past – and for good reason.
Brit + Co is a "media company that inspires, educates and entertains real women with a creative spirit." And it seems their website does just that for us!
Their website is full of bold yet muted colors and clean lines. They section off their pages well, which helps bring your eye down the page, and they let their strong imagery speak for itself.
A lot of white space comes flooding in from the sides, so nothing looks cluttered and everything is easy to read.
Bose is a well-known audio equipment company, and their website screams sophistication and functionality.
The large hero images are eye catching yet highlight their products perfectly. Bold typography with a lot of visual hierarchy keeps you attentive to the page. The featured products section right under the fold is a great way to bring in some white space after the dark black hero image.
3. Oak Street Bootmakers
Simple and refined are the two words that immediately come to mind when looking at the Oak Street Bookmakers website.
The more natural-tone colors are very calming to the eye, and the images of their products are very clean and direct. To keep with the calming look, they opted to place white text over their images rather than making a bolder statement with black.
Since their homepage is pretty short and simple with only three main sections, they chose to get a little more creative with their header and navigation, using a more sectional design rather than just placing a straight navigation on top of the page.
4. Londonist Textile Agency
Speaking of feature videos in modern website design, the Londonist Textile Agency nails it.
The second you land on their homepage, you're drawn into the panning video of an individual looking at a bunch of design sketches. The video is simple yet has a lot of textural and visual elements that keep your eyes looking around.
The rest of their homepage combines white space with angular dusty blue elements and image overlaps. The complete design is bold yet professional and simple.
They utilize super bold headers to point out major elements of their business, and keep the rest pretty standard and refined to contrast nicely.
5. Land Rover
Not only does the Land Rover USA website have a beautiful and captivating hero image – it has four (and one of them is a kickass video!).
You can either wait for each hero image to transition naturally, or you can move your mouse left or right to toggle back and forth. Plus, a little arrow follows your mouse around the screen – a simple, yet impactful, animated element.
The colors in their images are what pull you in, and they opt to keep the rest of their site pretty clean and simple. The grid style really works here because it allows for optimal white space to separate their vehicle details and specs.
bthere knows how to steal your attention. Their website is full of bright colors and animations that make you want to reach the end to see what else is in store.
While it might be a little busy in terms of color, it actually works here. All the colors are cohesive and mesh well together. Almost all of the visual elements move in some way or another, which is a great tactic to entertain visitors while they're skimming your site.
Muse has awesome product pictures and clean website copy that is easy to understand and contributes meaningfully to their site. They have testimonials right on the homepage, with several CTAs near some of their photos and descriptions of how Muse headbands can help you meditate and sleep better.
They offer inside looks into their app that connects to the headphones to track your brain waves by including screenshots of what the app can do.
The hero image at the top of the woman fastening her headband pulls the user in and makes them want to know more about this new piece of technology.
The Litter-Robot website has plenty of white space and a great color scheme that is easy on the eyes.
The website is selling cat litter pans, but the experience of the website makes it appear more glamorous and exciting than it is. Their pictures and awesome layout help showcase the fact that this particular litter pan for cats is extremely high-tech!
They even feature a short product video to show you how the Litter-Robot works so you'll never have to scoop again. Their headlines are catchy and engaging, which fits seamlessly into the rest of the branded information and general theme of their website.
What's great about Tallyfy is that it is a simple no clutter website. They have one simple dropdown menu at the top of the webpage and five CTAs that are all presented in different ways.
They have one simple picture that shows various people in little bubbles with arrows pointing to one another to demonstrate a workflow. The site is user-friendly and the information users want can be found easily using the navigation menus.
10. Absurd Designs
A new modern website design trend involves line-drawings or artistic illustrations drawn out across a website. It is a whimsical and attractive way to include artistic elements on your site in a way that isn't overbearing.
Absurd Design's website uses these line-style drawings to tell a story in an imaginative and creative way that still leaves plenty of white space. This modern website shows users that a black and white color scheme on a website is anything but boring.
With these tips and examples, your company can create a kickass website design that will help you attract new visitors, generate leads, and convert prospects into customers.