With the web becoming more ubiquitous and playing an ever-increasing role in our lives, the way it looks, and the way we use it, is constantly evolving. We share a few key themes to look out for in web design during 2016.
“With growing competition in every sector, users have more options online and are becoming less tolerant of bad design and usability.” That’s according to digitalsynopsis.com in their article titled, The importance of good web design and its impact on people and profits.
They cite an infographic by changesciences.com that illustrates the 10 most common web design stumbling blocks, including “lack of information, ‘busy’ interfaces and small fonts”.
Emerging web design trends appear to offer solutions to these hindrances:
Minimalism is key
smartinsights.com notes that “some have criticised minimal web design and have griped that many websites are starting to look the same”. This can be attributed to an increased emphasis on user experience. They add, “We’ve changed the way we use and consume the web. Analysis on the way we use the web has resulted in common digital design patterns that work.”
Flat designs remain on pointe largely due to their adaptability. awwwawards.com predicts that further trends in flat design will include long shadows, vibrant colour schemes, simple typography and ghost buttons.
If you enjoy Material Design – a design language developed by Google that uses grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects – look out for the brand extension, Material Design Lite, which is said to be better suited to websites. awwwawards.com writes, “Material Design Lite doesn’t rely on any particular framework, so designers can use a wide variety of front-end tools to create their sites. It’s also lightweight when it comes to the code.”
Keep navigation simple
Less scrolling or more scrolling? econsultancy.com describes scrolling as “the most controversial web design trend of the moment.”
The site quotes software engineer, Matthew Mombrea on the the “evils of scrolling”. He believes, “If sites were to consider their content and the goals of the interaction a little more, clicking to trigger a drill down into the site wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”
Mombrea suggests, “Combined with micro experiences and modern front end programming, a mouse click or screen tap doesn’t have to mean a jarring page refresh any longer.”
On the flip side, web and UI designer, Jowita Zioboro points out that "it’s easier to scroll than to click and smartphones on slow or limited data networks encourage scrolling.” She adds that “scrolling allows websites to spread out, favouring minimal designs with beautiful imagery spread throughout.”
Thanks to mobile devices, almost everyone is accustomed to long scrolling so this may be the trend to follow.
A picture is worth a thousand words
From Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat, we are consumed by visually rich content every day. And websites that sell their product or services using authentic photography and hero images are on trend as they grab the user’s attention. awwwards.com notes, “one common layout you’ll find is a hero image above the scroll, followed by either zig-zagging sections or a cards-based arrangement.”
That said, creativebloq.com believes “photos will be replaced with more relatable illustrations that connect to the viewer in a more personal manner.” They further explain that “with illustration it’s often easier to place yourself in a scene than it might be when a photo features horribly well-dressed, perfectly manicured models.”
In addition, creativebloq.com predicts that “cinemagraphs will come of age”. And while they too have been around for several years, "live photos” on Apple’s latest iPhone models will bring it to the forefront. As the site explains, “These Harry-Potter-esque images capture a little movement in a photo, so that when viewed the static photo appears to come to life.”
Following on from cinemagraphs, rich animations vary from more creative hover states to galleries and slideshows. Looking ahead, we can expect to be entertained by loading animations – for example – which tend to be popular for flat design, minimalism, portfolios and one-page sites.
Motivated by minimal design, econsultancy.com sums up iconography as “growing bigger, more details and generally has the pizzazz needed to enliven white space. Much like hover state, icons are becoming a creative playground for designers who may be constrained by increasingly conventional layouts and interaction design.”
Colour and typography are important marketing tools for any brand – many of which play it “safe” in terms of what is corporately acceptable. But that is changing. To quote creativeblog.com, “The past couple of years have seen a total transformation in the typographical landscape online as web fonts have become more accessible to all, and as a result we’ve already seen a dramatic shift in the way type is rendered online.”
econsultancy.com adds that “sans serif typography is increasingly on trend, befitting larger text on more minimal designs ... elsewhere, body text is thankfully growing in size as businesses lose old architecture and move from size 10 font”.
As brands become bolder with their typography, we can expect to see a whole lot of colour too.