Today, there are a lot more new things being created every hour – anything from new technological products to cloud services that live inside our phones. These are all constantly evolving so there is no way we can keep up with all of them. Even if we narrow them down to just web design, it’s still hard to process all that data.
The one thing in common for most people today is that you will look at a website or a service at least 50 times per day, depending on the work you’re doing. Even if you’re a gardener, you’ll always check your facebook or email at least once a day. The internet has become an external part of our living.
Websites are constantly evolving. As soon as you put a website live it can be already “outdated” or old. That’s why the rate at which we are redesigning websites from scratch has gone from 3-4 years to 1-2 years. And it’s all because of the speed at which things are evolving. Open source is probably one of the big impacts here.
In 2015, there were some interesting new things like Googles Material design. But let’s see how 2015 will impact 2016 and what will the future bring for web design.
Bootstrap is everywhere
Twitter’s Bootstrap 3 framework is the go-to thing to get a website live with its css and components. Although it was originally built for fast prototyping of apps, it has grown a lot in popularity and most WordPress themes are now using it it one way or another. But this has caused a problem in that most of these sites look alike since they come “pre designed” out of the box. They were meant to be a starter point for heavy customizations but a lot of people don’t really bother that much anymore. On top of that, Bootstrap 4 is coming soon.
Colors have also got quite a bit “out of control”, but not really in a bad way for most of the popular sites. There are some nice pallete examples web designers can use, but the important thing to note is that your colours should still be in harmony with your message and not scream at your visitor. It’s a good idea to read up a bit on color theory and test them for readability, contrast etc. Vibrant colors make things more lively and your message stronger (if done right).
Flat design gets upgrades
Flat design seems to be more popular than skeuomorphism was and works wonderfully on mobiles. We will probably see more use of shadow, depth and movement with the use of “card” ideas. It will also work well together with some flat illustrations with the use of bold color palletes.
More or less scrolling?
With mobile accounting for over 50% of site visitors today, scrolling even on desktops has become standard and there is no “above the fold” anymore. Forcing all the content into the first view has become bad practice. Separating your content out gives more focus to the message you want to tell.
Because our time is precious to us and we need to filter the information we are viewing, scrolling makes it easy and fast for us to see if a website will pique our interest or not. So short titles with smaller paragraphs will help more than a huge block of text. But sites shouldn’t be too long either. You should try and keep it around 8.000 pixels of height.
Since we don’t need to fill the “fold” with as much information as possible, we now have to put maybe just one sentence into it. Which is a lot harder than putting everything in it. Giving too much choice to a visitor can lead to information being missed. Remember, we don’t have time anymore to read everything. Sentences like “Welcome to my Blog” etc. don’t really bring any value to the visitor. And if your visitor doesn’t see any value they will click that back button back to Google or close the tab.
Keep it simple and you can add stunning visual images or videos to make a bigger impact on your primary message.
Focus on typography
Google fonts and other similar services has made using new fonts easy and we are now seeing a lot of different font pairings, both good and bad. Choosing the right ones has become a mastery, but there are some good default pairings that work well together.
Screen resolutions on devices are getting more and more pixels, meaning that pixel density in the last 10 years has increased from 72 pixel per inch(PPI) to 300 or more. And as we know, print has a density of 300 points per inch which made reading the fonts a lot more easier. A more practical example of this would be the Macbook Pro Retina displays. If you look closer, you can see how sharp the fonts are there. For a trained designers eye it is a lot easier now to distinguish fonts as the font characteristics have become more visible.
This is a pretty interesting trend that has a huge impact on the viewer as it grabs their attention as they try to figure out what this new viewing experience is about. It can be a bit mind boggling but it’s a nice thing to look at.
Doing it right it would definitely create an experience that will last. Flixel.com is one of the popular apps you can use to create these.
Static things are getting boring and moving things are fun, just ask your dog.
Attention grabbing animation for CTA sections can be improved with the use of libraries like Motion UI. There are rules here as well so don’t overuse it. Using it only once or twice on each page can be enough and would produce a greater effect.
If you put everything together you can create something amazing for your viewer to play with. Making things more interesting means people will read and share it more.
Custom illustrations / images
Creating custom illustrations or even images gives a lot more personality to a website or a brand. Using free stock photos is getting boring, allthough some sites like unsplash.com do it nicely. But at the end of the day, the image has to fit with your message and a hipster picture of a guy with a mustache may not be the most suitable one.
A lot of companies are starting to realize the value in custom images and are investing more and more into this. This is mostly seen in food or recipe websites. You really want images of your own that can bring out the appetite in the viewer.
But the biggest “trend” in 2016 is Speed & Performance
We will be seeing a lot of abstract, minimalistic styled websites with amazing flat/cvg illustrations, and who knows what else because one of Google’s ranking factors is also page speed.
Years ago, sites were around 100kb in size. Today, an average site has 1000kb. Which is a lot. But with the recent changes, will the size go down because of the prioritization of speed? How will these changes impact websites and their content? How will this impact viewer behaviour? And will we have more or less time to scan sites for the things we want to read or learn?
As the web grows the trends will grow in numbers also. It’s a great thing to see how these things evolve at an amazing speed. But it’s a bit of a problem if you’re someone who needs to track these. Companies producing high-quality sites need to invest time in learning new things and trying out new stuff. Experimentation brings the best things and results.
It’s also a good thing to remember that trends come and go. Something nice today may not be so good tomorrow. But you can use these as basics to combine them together and create something unique for your site. Who knows, maybe what you create will become a trend in 2017.