This is a guest post from Josh Johnson, Inbound Marketing Manager at Creative Market.
Keeping your online store on trend can be the difference between staying relevant and losing sales.
This applies not only to the products that you’re selling, but how you present them.
In this post, we’ll take a look at three design trends you can leverage to keep your online store looking fresh!
A Bit About Design Trends
Some designers think “trend” is a dirty word, but it’s really just a way to identify interesting patterns in the collective style habits of our culture.
By definition, a trend is something that a ton of people really like at the moment—which as a result, makes your store and design feel familiar to a visitor. Following these tips won’t make your shop’s design objectively better than that of your competitors, but it could help make your products appear more appealing to potential customers.
There are two important questions to ask yourself before you make any design decision:
First, who is your target market? Certain trends appeal to certain people, and can even repel others. Make sure you know what your target demographic is looking for and decide how you can use design to make your shop a great destination for those people.
Second, do you want your brand to follow design trends or set them? Striking out on your own and doing something boldly different is a big risk that could reap big rewards if people find the change refreshing.
Let’s dig in to design trends to look out for this year—and take a look at how you can implement them.
1. Use Knolling to Organize Product Photography
Even if you’ve never heard the word “knolling” before, you’re familiar with the trend. Seriously, it’s everywhere.
You know that thing your friend does in his Instagram feed where he arranges a bunch of things neatly in a grid, then takes an overhead photo? That’s knolling. It has been used for quite some time, but it has become exceedingly popular with Instagram and product photography lately.
A photo posted by Carl H. (@the802) on
Not only is it incredibly pleasant to look at, but it’s fantastic for getting an understanding of a store’s collection. Or, in the case above—a good way to show a potential outfit for your online clothing store.
For online stores, knolling is a great way to display items for sale in a clean and attractive way. This idea is beautifully showcased in the Shopify Luna theme, shown below.
Tell a Story
Notice how the items shown in the theme above are obviously not all for sale in the store. The leaf and stick, for example, are used to round out the offering.
They bring nature into the arrangement of manmade items and help tie the colors and concepts into a visual theme that people can relate to.
Use Great Photography
The trick to pulling off this look is really nice photography. Fortunately, this difficult task is made far easier by the wealth of overhead photo packs that you can find online, such as the Coffee Stationery Pack shown below.
It’s Not Just About Overhead Photography
Technically, knolling is simply the method of arranging the objects and is not directly related to overhead photography, that’s simply how most people choose to depict the trend.
As you can see in the London Stationery theme above, it can be interesting to mix it up with different angles. Give it a shot on your store!
Quick tip: Want to learn how to take great photography using just your smartphone? Be sure to check out our guide here.
2. Use Brush Hand Lettering for Bold Headers
Another really popular trend in design right now is messy brush lettering. Over the past several years, we’ve seen different types of script fonts really gain hold in the design community.
It’s hard to say why exactly brushed lettering has started to become so popular—but it’s everywhere.
Here’s a rough look at how this trend has progressed in the past couple of years:
Though it’s still fairly widely used, most people will admit that Lobster is past its prime at this point due to overuse.
After that, Wisdom Script was a huge deal. Now we’re seeing a trend towards a bit of a sloppier, more hand-crafted feel.
You can see this trend in full force with the beautiful type on display in the Cloud Break theme below.
A Few Good Fonts Go a Long Way
If you’re a custom lettering artist, you probably have no trouble recreating the brushed letter look on your own. For the rest of us, it comes down to choosing the right font.
Here are a few great examples of fonts that replicate the look of brushed lettering:
Be Careful! Don’t Overdo It
Fat, messy scripts should be handled with care.
Their readability is fairly low compared to other typefaces, so you should be super careful about where you use them in a design.
Limit them to big headlines and leave the body copy to more standard fonts.
Quick tip: Want to grab some of the fonts listed above? Be sure to check out this awesome list of fonts.
3. Use the Old Film Look Across All Mediums
In a time when even cheap DSLRs and cell phones provide beautifully colored photographs with lots of dynamic range, the popular trend seems to go against the technology to give digital images the appearance of photos taken a few decades ago on a film camera.
This trend might have started with cheap scratches and cheesy Polaroid frames, but these days it manifests itself in truly professional-looking images, albeit with some clever color manipulation that provides a nostalgic feel.
How To Pull It Off
If you’re not a photographer or a Photoshop expert, it can be tricky to describe just what it is about photography like this that makes it “feel” the way it does. As you can see in the example above, there are tons of possible ways to take this trend, each resulting in a unique look.
However, there are really a couple main techniques in play here.
First, film effects usually reduce the dynamic range in a photo (the exact opposite of a high dynamic range, or HDR photo). It’s all about subtly pulling out contrast, making the white pixels less white and the black pixels less black. In Photoshop, this usually manifests itself in a Curves adjustment.
Also typically at play are some color adjustments aimed at the same goal: reducing bright, realistic colors and emulating the exposure properties of specific old school camera films. The before and after of a typical film effect can be seen below.
Keep Your Original Images
One extremely important thing to remember about all of this is that trends change and what makes your photos look cool and relevant today could make them look out of touch tomorrow. We’ll talk about this a bit more later, but for now, remember that you should always keep your unedited original images in case you need to try something different down the road.
Invest In Some Good “Actions”
The difference between a really cheesy, amateur film effect and a really good one is all the work and industry knowledge that seasoned image editing professionals bring to the table.
The tips above will get you started, but when you’re ready to take things to the next level, check out some professional actions, which will give you truly amazing results in a single click.
Here’s an example of an action:
What’s an action? It’s a way for you to record tasks as an “action” that lets you replay the steps.
It makes photo adjustments much simpler with just a click of a button, rather than tweaking settings every time.
Give it a shot for some of your product photography—or even promotional images and see how it looks!
Now that we’ve taken a look at some awesome design trends, its up to you to incorporate them into your website.
Let us know in the comments below if there are any other trends you may have noticed popping up online!