This article was contributed by Kate Funk.
Innovation and re-invention are the cornerstones of good web design. In an age in which everyone is fighting tooth and nail for a minute of undivided consumer attention, it is important to stay at the top of the game, and web designers have their work cut out for them.
The first impression of a web page is almost always visual – with the exception of pages that automatically blast music at you; people do not tend to see the visuals because they are too busy closing the page (hint, don’t afflict your awful music on the unsuspecting audience). Since first impressions count a lot, it is important to have a page that is both visually appealing and functional.
Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of commotion in the industry. A lot of creative designers left or tried to leave, their mark on the Internet. Different styles would swoop in and thousands of webmasters would scurry, trying to adapt or completely change their design just so they can conform to the latest fad. Pointless really, because those fads would be out on their butts very quickly.
There are, however, design trends that have been time-tested or so revolutionary that we can – almost confidently – say that they are here to stay.
1. Mobile first, always
The Internet has gone almost completely mobile, and most users rarely go a day without accessing it from their phones, tablets or other portable devices.
Responsive design is the law, and if you are not responsive you are losing a ton of traffic, and a ton of customers in the process. In the very near future, people will search the Internet not only from their phones and tablets but with the help of HUD displays and VR technology. Oculus Rift is just around the corner, don’t you know? This means that designers will have to be imaginative and able to show content to users browsing on unique shaped screens without sacrificing usability or functionality.
2. Designing for the AI
Interaction is one of the key considerations of design. When does it happen? How does it happen? On what device? These are all things that a designer has to think about in order to provide the user with the best possible experience. The game is changing rapidly, and with the advent of online virtual assistants, the context of search is changing as well.
AI will be given a significant role in analyzing and interpreting user context. That role is prominent now but will become even more so in the future. It is important to keep that in mind and consider it for your designs. Users will come to depend on it and failing to live up to those expectations can be a costly mistake.
3. Flat design and minimalism
Flat design has been with us since 2010 but is constantly changing and evolving, turning into something that visitors are more or less expecting to see when they come to a web page. It is completely user-centric which is why it is so appealing. It limits distractions and offers clarity and clear-cut edges.
People like it because it doesn’t waste their time. It also reduces loading times and can be easily adapted to fit all kinds of screen sizes. Flat design, coupled with a minimalistic approach, is here to stay. Users are no longer interested in giving away their free time and battling with confusing navigation and layout. In a nutshell, the point is to cut out redundancies without serving up a blank and boring page. Hey, no one said it was easy!
4. Bold typography
Typography plays a prominent part in web design. Frankly, it always has but it used to be mistreated and under-utilized. Today, we are seeing a trend of extremes when it comes to fonts pages use. (See font combinations here). Most of it is Sans Serif, meaning the font is unembellished and there is little to distract the reader from the actual message. This is because words have power and it is important to use them to convey your message clearly and confidently.
On the other hand, and adhering to the minimalistic design principles, some pages use small fonts that are equally effective. As long as they are clearly visible – black against a white background, for example – they can draw attention to themselves quickly, which is your ultimate goal.
5. Hand-drawn illustrations
Cliche stock images are slowly exiting the design scene, thankfully! While they will always be an option for a designer on a budget, they are no longer effective. Designers are now turning to hand-drawn illustrations or other alternatives for a number of reasons.
First, there is the element of surprise. Hand-drawn illustrations bring a unique and authentic feel to a design and can be tailored to the extreme. Brands will use them in the future to differentiate themselves from the rest of the herd, and those who can do it the best stand to gain a lot in the process. They will set themselves apart as unique and authentic, and that is the whole point, right?
6. Long scroll – why above the fold is no longer the law
Staying above the fold was once a caveat. You did not want your visitors to scroll down to see valuable information; you wanted it to smack them right in the face as soon as they open your page. Today, it is still important to stay above the fold, especially for goal-driven sites, especially e-commerce sites.
But there are instances when scrolling increases customer satisfaction. If you have a story to tell, one that is interesting and would increase customer interaction, the long scroll is your friend. People will want to scroll since they will be interested in how the story unravels. That is the assumption at least. Using this technique can yield excellent results, especially if you are using light animations and parallax effect. Don’t overdo it, however. Content rich page with videos will slow your site down and have adverse effects on your bounce rate.
New Design Trends Summary
These are some trends that are dominating the design industry right now, and they seem to be rooted firmly. You can see that they mostly revolve around user experience since that is the driving force in design.
Are there any other trends out there that managed to peak your interest? If so, leave a comment!