At Facebook’s annual developer’s conference, the company announced plans to redesign its website and mobile apps, introducing a new minimalistic aesthetic.
It’s Zuckerberg’s attempt to reinvent the social network and give users control over their experience on the platform, with the CEO telling attendees that Facebook will shift towards private conversations via groups and Messenger, instead of encouraging public content sharing and live broadcasting.
A sneak peek of the new Facebook on desktop, which will roll out in the coming months, left many shocked at its radical new interface – and gave web designers some food for thought.
At Zudu, we specialise in developing high-converting websites for businesses with the latest design trends and research in mind, and we think Facebook is a pretty valuable resource when it comes to developing user interfaces with global audiences in mind.
Because of this, we thought we’d delve deeper into Facebook’s redesign, and share five things we learned…
Minimalism is in
What’s most striking about Facebook’s redesign is its airy aesthetic, imitating Instagram in both its simplicity and layout.
The company has opted for rounded edges, light icons, and a sticky navigation bar to the right-hand side.
Many argue that it’s Facebook’s attempt to, quite literally, wipe the slate clean following data scandals over the years, and that makes sense.
Minimalism has become a real trend in website design, allowing businesses to build simple and functional sites that serve a clear purpose and get the job done.
In today’s always-on culture where consumers spend more time online than ever before, removing unnecessary elements and using the least number of components possible allows you to put the spotlight on your services without distraction.
However, you should be wary of over-simplifying, which could have the opposite effect and confuse users or decrease your authority and credibility.
It’s also important to mention that the Facebook redesign offers a unified experience across desktop and mobile – both via its mobile app and mobile website.
Consider doing the same when developing a new look for your website, not only to improve branding but to deliver a better experience. A single design can also reduce development and maintenance costs.
Branding is about more than colours
Perhaps the biggest change to Facebook, particularly on desktop, is its white-washing, with the company removing virtually every trace of its signature blue.
The new circular Facebook logo stands proudly in the left-hand corner of the screen, a comforting reminder that you’re browsing a platform you trust, but it’s non-intrusive.
When building a website, it’s important to remember branding is about more than a logo or colour scheme: it’s the whole experience.
There are many ways to amplify your brand’s identity – through imagery, iconography, and copy, so don’t feel like you have to overdo it with design. Just because your logo is red, that doesn’t mean you need to display every word in #FF0000.
Keep your site clutter-free and focus on its core purpose – converting visitors into customers. Subtle, consistent branding can make the difference between a conversion and a customer clicking back off your site.
Content should speak for itself
Your site’s design should serve as a vessel for your content – just as Facebook’s new design does. By creating a white and light user-interface, images and video come to the forefront and encourage eyeballs to scan the page.
Bright imagery, icons, and illustrations can be used to tell stories and sell the benefits of your products and services to users, and regularly updating can encourage return visits and increased engagement with your brand.
Of course, you’re not going to post as much as a Facebook news feed, but highlighting your dynamic content, whether that’s blog posts, social media updates or case studies, can demonstrate that your brand is active and responsive. Stale websites aren’t going to cut it!
The same goes for landing pages. Data shows that landing pages without navigation perform better than those with a navigation bar, as you’re removing distractions and pushing users through a sales funnel.
Let your content – or core sales message – speak for itself when you are building a new website to increase conversion rates, and use A/B testing to optimise.
Icons have never been so important
When building modern user experiences, using iconography rather than text and images not only simplifies the user experience, but it adds a sense of purpose and functionality to every touchpoint, allowing designers to remove unnecessary clutter and guide users to what really matters.
On Facebook, that’s interacting sharing content, but on your company website, that could be pushing people through your sales funnel and encouraging them to convert fast.
Icons have become so fundamental to the way people use Facebook that they don’t need a label. Messenger, Notifications, Groups, Facebook Watch and Marketplace require a shared knowledge, but years of branding tweaks and marketing has made that possible.
It’s possible to use iconography in a similar manner on your own website, using icons that have a single, widely recognised meaning, like a cog for a settings menu, and a house for your homepage.
Using icons allows you to build explanation-free user-interfaces that feel organic and natural, but use them only where it makes sense, and consider a tutorial if you’re building a platform.
Stick to conventions and don’t try to reinvent the wheel: for example, a basket or cart for your e-commerce checkout, an arrow for a back button and a bell for notifications and alerts.
It’s okay to copy your competitors
The first thing we thought when we saw the new Facebook? That looks just like Twitter! It’s not the first time that Zuckerberg has taken inspiration from the big blue bird – they copied the rounded avatar design from Twitter just weeks after they introduced it, and now virtually every social network and community-based application has round avatars.
What’s interesting about Facebook’s new look, though, is that they’ve taken some real inspiration from Twitter and what makes the platform so easy to use – a single top bar with icon navigation, leaving the rest of the screen real estate for status updates, pictures, videos, and advertisements.
We’re not saying that you should visit your competitors’ websites and copy and paste, but taking inspiration from successful designs makes sense, as it helps you to craft the best user experience for your customers.
Make notes of things you think your competitors do well and the areas you think they could improve upon, and remember that you don’t need to focus exclusively on direct competitors – use web design resources to see what’s trending in the wider industry, and you’ll soon have a clear idea of the type of website you’d like to create.
Thinking about your own radical redesign? Get in touch with the Zudu team, who specialise in web design in Dundee. Call us on 01382 690 080 to discuss your project in more detail.