Website designs are moving away from ho-hum stock images and photography to more interesting and personalized branding that includes free-flowing compositions with colorful illustrations, interesting and subtle textures. Classic serif fonts, bolder sans serif fonts and a broader palette of muted colors are also helping to push back against the trend of minimalism.

In pandemics, epidemics, tragedies, disasters -- both natural and manmade -- catastrophes, hardships and the like, words that are written matter; words that aren’t written matter; what’s between the line is now above the fold because people will interpret your words every which way to Sunday. That can be good. And not so good.

Each year, with quite a bit of fanfare I might add, Reader’s Digest releases their 40 Most Trusted Brands in America. And each year it’s pretty much the same song and dance. It’s easy to pick apart the findings; after all, with only a very few exceptions, all the brands are national advertisers, some with marketing budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars and a few with budgets that exceed $1 billion.

Emails don't have to look stark, canned, stale and boring. There are more design options available than ever before, ready to spice up your next campaign. 

Have a powerful and clear brand message

You have about eight seconds to get your point across. It should be very clear what products or services you are offering, along with bold calls-to-action to get the user involved. A good combination of writing and a careful choice of imagery will help you to pull this off.

Quite a few years ago, long before Wells Fargo began fleecing their customers, I gave a speech to Wisconsin executives affirming that the single most compelling market differentiation for businesses and organizations was trust. There’s little doubt, at least in the last 13 months, that trust has been whittled down to pencil-point levels.

  1. Gradients. Yes, gradients. They were right out, like the number five for the past several years when flat design was king. Now they’re back, with brighter and bolder colors that flow together seamlessly.    
  2. Drop Shadows. Another mainstay that had all but disappeared. These are now best used sparingly for a dramatic added dimension, rather than in every single shape and button on a website.

Our thanks to Pamela Sosnowski, at   for her recent article on our agency.  

Why does it need to be so complicated? We’ve all seen it time and again. Branding projects that lasted so long the brands actually changed, not once, but twice before the initiative was ever completed. The branding process, for many of us, has changed, and that change has provided the client with what is long overdue; pragmatism. 

We may not be psychologically ready for the new year yet, but it’s time to take a look at the prevailing web trends for 2015.