In this dynamic digital world, web design trends are constantly changing. Most trends that were considered cool a few years ago have now become boring and outdated while some trends like responsive web design and scrolling are still going strong. New trends based on latest technology and focusing on user experience and customization are coming up as well.
Year 2015 is slowly coming to a close leading us to 2016. So what will be the web design trends in the upcoming months? Which trends will become more popular and which new trends will emerge?
Here are some of the top design trends we are likely to see in 2016:
1. More mobile optimization and responsive web design
With growing mobile adoption and increasing use of multiple screens, offering a seamless experience to the user irrespective of the device he is using will remain the top priority. Responsive design is the backbone of modern web design and will continue to be so for a long time.
If a website doesn’t pass Google’s mobile-friendly test, it will lose out in Google search rankings which will adversely affect website traffic, lead generation and sales.
2. UX design will rule
UX design has the power to make or break a brand. A positive user experience will make users happy, induce them to share their positive experiences with friends and family and improve the brand’s image. A poorly executed UX design on the other hand, can annoy and frustrate the user, creating a negative impression. In view of highly competitive market, it is imperative to capture users’ attention continuously.
Usability testing to check the overall performance of apps and websites is relatively still new but it is expected to grow in importance in 2016.
3. Longer scrolling
Rapid rise of mobile has shifted the web design trend from clicking to scrolling so that users can see all the content in one page. Users find it easy to scroll through a page rather than keep clicking on links to find relevant information.
Vertical scrolling is mostly used to display content on one-page websites and on landing pages but sometimes it can even be seen on ‘product’ or ‘about’ pages. Social networks use endless or infinite scrolling in which additional content keeps loading when a user scrolls through the page.
4. Interactive storytelling
We all know that content is the king and a great content strategy will make all the difference. We also know that the average user has shortage of time and doesn’t like long text content with too much scrolling. But everything can’t be communicated in bullet points or flash animations. You need to create interesting stories with animations and present them in an interactive and appealing way.
Beautiful interactive visual stories appeal more to the viewers and increase user engagement. The perfect blend of typography, colors, visuals and animations will make a great story for your brand. Some good examples are story.glass and Space Needle. We can expect interactive storytelling to be a top web design trend in 2016.
5. Very large typography
Typography has been an important element in web designing in 2015 and will continue to do so in 2016 as well. In fact headings and typography will become even larger as big typography about the brand on landing pages will grab visitors’ attention immediately.
6. No large background images
Having large high-quality background header images has been a popular trend since last few years. They no doubt help to catch the eye of the visitor but the trend has become so common that almost every other site has a large background image with some typography on top and the novelty is wearing off.
In order to stand apart from the crowd some websites are now discarding them. They are using large headers with attractive typography and leaving the background blank. This has an added advantage of improving the website’s speed and performance as large images use up a lot of bandwidth and increase the load time, especially on mobile devices.
7. Simplistic web designs
Use of too many visual and interactive elements can overwhelm visitors. In 2016, web designers will be focusing more on minimalist design, removing all the distracting non-essential design elements. This involves making smart decisions about which elements to keep and which to leave out and creating a beautiful balance between typography, visuals, color palette and white space.
Many brands and designers are now opting for clean, simple and aesthetically pleasing website designs that stand out among the image-heavy and element-crowded websites. In minimalist web designs, it is the content that rules and they also offer better functionality on multiple screens and devices.
A good example of a simple and clean website is the site of The New Wave Company which has large typography in its header but no large background image.
8. High-quality custom photography
The quality of photos is very crucial for the success of a website. The right photos make a great difference to your website’s look and effectiveness. While creating a new website, you have a choice of using stock photography or using custom photographs shot by a professional photographer.
Although stock imagery is of high quality, offers a wide choice and is comparatively cheaper, you may not get exactly what you want and they also lack the personal touch. On the other hand, hiring a professional photographer will get you high-quality, unique photos exactly as you want them. This is the reason that high-quality custom photography is now being preferred by most brands.
9. Fixed width centered layout
Early websites had center aligned fixed width layouts showing distinctive borders. Later on designers began to use width: 100% design element causing the website to stretch the entire width of the browser window irrespective of the screen size or resolution.
However fixed width centered layouts are once again making a comeback albeit in a modern way. Centered layouts direct users’ entire attention to the center of the page where content is located, so many designers are now using max-width to display the content in the center of a wider viewport, resizing automatically for smaller screen widths.
A great example is the personalcreactions.com website which showcases the content in the center whatever the size of the viewport.
10. Flyout/slideout menus
After the arrival of mobile devices and responsive web design, designers are striving to make every aspect of a website look great, whatever the device. Navigation design has taken a front seat to provide a better user experience.
Flyout/ slideout app-like menus hitherto used in apps and responsive web design on mobile devices with smaller viewports are now being used in entire websites as they save up a lot of screen space.
11. Hidden main menus
This is another technique that has evolved from responsive web design, saving precious screen space and working on any screen size. This design pattern is also now being incorporated in entire websites and not just in devices with smaller viewports. Here, the main menus are hidden and become visible only when the user clicks on an appropriate icon, say a hamburger icon.
12. Performance and speed
Users are using an array of devices to access websites and not all have fast network speeds or unlimited data plans. To offer a better user experience, designers and developers are putting more emphasis on keeping their websites light so that they consume less bandwidth and load faster even on mobiles and tablets as well as on slow networks. Arrival of responsive web design has put more focus on these concerns. Most of the web design trends mentioned above address these issues.
Site performance is an important factor for user experience and SEO rankings. There is no doubt that design trends that contribute in improving site performance and loading time will be more popular in 2016.