Trends are well-known changes that happen in all creative fields, and web design is no different. Born of experimentation and innovation, trends are the driving factors for change, which (for the most part) push an industry forward for the better.
The web is a unique environment which is constantly changing and evolving, and with that in mind, we run down what we believe are 10 of the most important trends to be looking towards over the next 12 months.
- More Brands to adopt a mobile-first approach
Mobile-first design is the process of designing/developing for mobile first. This approach keeps us creating better designs that work better across all screen sizes. Starting with the smallest screen size and then working towards the larger ones. While this approach isn’t new, it is being more recognized due to mobile being the primary devices used for browsing the web. The mobile-first approach is making companies think more about how important they look on a mobile device and how their content is delivered reads, most are realizing it doesn’t look right, so the are now rushing to get onboard with this approach.
With design and visuals aside, the mobile-first approach and what restrictions it creates is one way for brands to consider what their core content and message is.
Mobile-first isn’t a new concept for 2017, but we do anticipate seeing more sites over the coming years taking a more thoughtful approach in how they choose to deliver their content to the smaller screens first.
- Implementing Responsive Design
We know what you are thinking, first was mobile-first and now response design?
Responsive design has been around for several years now, but we see time and time again companies still haven’t switched to a responsive design. With the number of users that prefer to use their mobile devices verse desktops, we believe we will see more companies switching their designs over to something more responsive.
Responsive design is essentially an approach of building a site using CSS media queries and flexible grids or layouts to create a dynamic site that adjusts the content to best fit on any various sized devices. Responsive design goes hand-in-hand with mobile-first approach.
One of the many bonuses that come with a responsive design it allows businesses to build just one site that effectively works on all devices and screen sizes making this more cost effective for the business.
We believe more brands will be doing this for SEO reasons. Recently, Google updated their ranking algorithm, the update will now boosts the ranking of sites that optimize their content. To read more about Google and this update, click here.
Want to see if your site is “mobile-friendly” under Google’s update, use this tool to test it out.
- Widespread utilization of rapid prototyping tools
Although not a design trend per se, rapid prototyping tools are definitely one of the most useful breakthroughs to hit the web-design world over the last year or so and are a must-have tool for any web, UI and UX designer. Rapid prototyping tools from services such as, UXpin, Webflow, InVision and Marvel (amongst many others) all allow designers to quickly create working low and high fidelity prototypes of sites and services to gauge their usability and aesthetic, all without writing a single line of code. Many also allow you to design in the browser and then actually launch the site itself right from the tool.Their ease-of-use and functionality gives an instant like-for-like experience of how the finished product would look and work in the browser, saving precious hours, resources and would-be setbacks. What’s also beneficial in their application is what comes from the client side. Gone are the days of showing client static wire-frames and mockups, explaining in great detail every subtle animation and transition. Your clients get to see exactly how it works and looks, without any long, complicated conversations about user experience or transition speeds.
- Courageous Colours
2016 is definitely the year for super-rich colours online. Whereas in the past, many brands and designers have typically stuck with web-safe colours, more brands today are being braver in their approach to using colour, as we’re seeing with over-saturation, vibrant hues and a resurgence in the use of gradients. This in part is helped by technological advancements in monitors and devices with screens that are more apt at reproducing richer colours.
The use of bolder colours in web design is helpful in attracting the attention of users, but it’s also a signifier of change for brands, as many make a conscious effort in 2016 to try new things and break new ground, moving away from the previously established, ‘safer-bet’ practises.
A good example of this is with Spotify’s recent update to their branding, moving from their well established, and ‘safer’ green colour, to a more noticeably vivid hue.
Although the actual aesthetic of it was met with mixed reviews, the music streaming brand justified it as a necessary change, as they shift their brand focus and reputation from being a primarily ‘techy’ company, to being a purely music focused brand.
- Innovative scrolling and parallax
Scrolling, once reserved for getting from top of a page to the bottom, is being used in more creative capacities to deliver content online. Where designers in the past were concerned about keeping the most important content ‘above the fold’, we’re seeing this old-fashioned notion disappear, as ‘the fold’ is now harder to define, as users are viewing content of screens of all different sizes and resolutions.
Scrolling is a versatile mechanic which (when executed well) can work great with all varieties of content delivery. It works with video based content, where large full screen videos play and pause as the user scrolls, as well as static content, which can animate, move, or change depending on the users input.
- Card design and grid layouts
First popularized by Pinterest, card design layouts continue to shape and influence web design trends and we will be seeing more of this dynamic grid style in 2017. What makes cards so appealing is the simplicity, organization, flexibility and responsiveness that they create. Grid layouts are particularly suitable for pages with an abundance of data, as they make the information more accessible and enticing. A web development agency htmlBoutique utilizes the grid layout to create unique compositions of case studies and give their portfolio an extra oomph that sets it apart from typical showcase pages.
- AI-powered bots and conversational interfaces
In terms of visuals, bots are unlikely to have a big impact on web design, but they will significantly influence how designers think about creating websites. AI-powered bots are going to get even more realistic and complex this year, empowering businesses to automate communication and sales. Using tools like Letsclap, online businesses will be able to connect with their customers via messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat, providing customized customer support and commerce. Conversational interfaces will be a huge shift, helping big brands express different sides of their personality and making them more human and approachable.
- Big, bold, beautiful typography
Typography is also a powerful visual medium, able to create personality, evoke emotion and set tone. As device resolutions become sharper and type becomes more easy to read on-screen, brand’s will be looking to push the limits of typography even further to appeal to their users.
Expect to see an increase in over-sized and full screen type which breaks the grid, beautiful, unique, hand-rendered typography and lots of dynamic text and image layering working in tandem with parallax scrolling.
- Authentic photography
The big one – photography. Photography will always be a main-stay within web design and design in general, but as mentioned before, people desire authenticity from the brands they use and they know a canned, stock photo when they see one.
Brands and designers will now be thinking more carefully about the imagery they use on site, hiring professional photographers to take their shots which frame them in the way they want to be seen.
Unfortunately, it’ll probably be a long time before much of the cheesy and cringe-inducing stock photography completely disappears, but expect to see it start falling off a little more quickly this year.
- Video becomes king
They say a picture paints a thousand words, but a video does that tenfold. Much like with animation, a moving image on a page instantly captures the users attention, drawing them in so brands are able to get across their carefully constructed narrative and message.
Video, although by no means new, is long-established and versatile medium, useful for story-telling, marketing and vlogging alike, and has several advantages over traditional photography. Where static imagery is flat and motionless, video is altogether more dynamic, using sound and movement to appeal to the senses and hold attention for longer.
- More Brands to adopt a mobile-first approach
It’s going to continue to be an incredibly exciting year for the web design industry. We will continue on the path of personalization, customization, and unique user experiences, making the online world ever more intuitive and human-like.
Meeting user expectations and delivering tailored experiences will be of paramount importance in 2017 and the years to come. Let’s make it happen!