If you’ve gone to one of your favorite news sites or blogs recently, you may have noticed a change in the layout if you’re seeing squares and rectangles.
These boxes, known as cards, are the hot new trend in web design, according to TheNextWeb.com. They are typically designed to organize content, so the image, headline, main text and call-to-action (like a share button) are all in one place.
Container-style web design isn’t really anything new, but it’s something that is beginning to translate to websites from another place: the desktop.
When Microsoft introduced its Windows 8 OS, it was made with the same formatting that Windows Phones had carried since a couple of years prior. On both operating systems, apps and other programs are separated into colorful blocks to make it easy to sort and select from.
But this isn’t necessarily something new on the web, either. For several years now, social media giant Pinterest has popularized the container format on its pinboards, where users can select inspirational images and organize them as they see fit.
And that usability is something that more web designer companies are taking into account. The grid format is clickable and easy to navigate on many websites, so sites ranging from The Guardian, a U.K.-based news source, to any number of blogs, are thinking, well, inside the box.
Grids can either be uniform in size, says TheNextWeb.com, or vary in size. For instance, some sites keep larger cards to the left while displaying related or recommended links in cards to the right; this is referred to as “magazine style.”
Pins (like those on Pinterest), metro or flat design (as with Windows 8’s start menu) and grid or masonry format are the other types of cards seen across the web.
Part of this design is also geared towards keeping web users on the page. Although some researchers estimate that users can spend up to 15 seconds on a webpage before deciding whether or not to stay, others state that it takes 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) or less for a user to form an opinion on a website.
Google can take this figure — known as the bounce rate — into account if too many users aren’t staying on a website for a long period of time.
Business2Community.com names some of the biggest signs of an outdated website, which can contribute to that bounce rate, pointing out flaws in the font and graphics, especially.
In other words, just plain awful fonts like Comic Sans or busy graphics (including bad stock photography) are especially lethal for businesses trying to make an impression with customers.
The worst offense, however, is not having a mobile-friendly website, as more than half of all internet searches today are done from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.