If you’re thinking about designing a new website, or redesigning an existing one, most businesses land somewhere on the spectrum between clueless and confused. There are so many different styles, techniques, and trends, that it’s pretty challenging to know what you ought to do … especially if you don’t have a background in web design.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, though, you probably can’t go wrong with a card-based design.
What is Card-Based Design?
Pinterest and Microsoft are generally acknowledged as the pioneers of card-based web design. They took the traditional use of actual cards — such as Post-it notes, playing cards, or business cards — and reimagined them in a digital format.
“Physical cards were used to place relevant information about a single topic and today, card-based design maintains that same concept, making a comfortable experience for users by promoting content that is engaging and tailored for the user,” user experience expert Nicholas Tenhue explains.
In essence, card-based design organizes content in a visually pleasing format wherein each container represents an idea or element. These containers (or cards) are then combined in a systematic manner for easy display and consumption.
The PinnacleART blog is one good example. When you pull up the page, the cards shuffle into place and provide a nice systematic overview of the different topics. It’s a much more effective approach than the simple list of headlines most company blogs feature.
The Dribble homepage is another good example worth taking a look at. With so much information to include on its site, the card-based design approach allows the company to present an array of content without overwhelming visitors. The result is a clean appearance that honors the Dribble brand.
5 Benefits of Card-Based Design
Card-based design doesn’t appear to be just a brief fad. It’s been a mainstream web design style for close to a decade — and remarkably popular in just the past three years. But this shouldn’t be surprising: a multitude of benefits are associated with card-based design, including:
1. Aesthetically Pleasing
Let’s start with the most obvious benefit. Card-based design is based on visuals and it’s highly effective on this point. When a visitor looks at cards, his or her brain is stimulated and responds much faster than when it is exposed to only text-based content.
Research suggests the brain responds 60,000 times faster to visual content.
The human brain always looks for ways to organize the information it’s exposed to systematically. One of the greatest benefits of card-based design is that it’s built on the fundamental principle of categorizing information.
Everything fits into a neat box (almost literally) and visitors may choose to interact with as many (or as few) of the boxes as he or she pleases.
3. Highly Responsive
Obviously, you need to have a responsive website to reach today’s Internet user. The most valuable consumer groups have multiple devices and expect a seamless experience when they transition from mobile to desktop (and vice versa).
The readily responsive nature of card-based design makes it perfect for shifting from device to device. This is due largely to the way frameworks and card grids can be structured to fit any breakpoint or screen size.
As designer Jerry Cao explains, “Designers can be quite flexible with the card’s aspect ratio (plus how groups of cards fit together). For example, you can set a fixed-width with variable height, using consistent spacing between cards.”
4. Easy to Personalize
Today, web users expect personalization when they interact with a brand. A wonderful aspect of card-based design is that it’s fairly easy to customize each individual’s experienced based on the information you collect. This enables you to deliver a consistent, yet customized experience for each user.
5. Ideal for Thumbs
For owners of mobile devices, nothing is more frustrating than having to click a small link on a screen. From the practical point of view, card-based web design is easy on the thumbs. You can click anywhere at all on the card and you’re in.
Putting it All Together
Card-based web design is still just one option that businesses and web designers have at their disposal, but it’s an effective and popular one. If you’re looking for a web design format that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing, why bother going any further?