The art of design is constantly changing, and this is especially evident in web design. Changes in community taste, technology and art are always reflected in the current state of web design. Designers are stretching the limits looking for the next great thing or trying to rediscover something old in a new way.
Web design is the most dynamic member of the design family, and trends come and go quickly. We have put together a list of some of the most recent trends:
Defined as the process of using content and images to lead users on a journey from point A to point B, storytelling has always been a powerful method of communication, and it continues to play an increasingly bigger role in many sites. Organizations and brands are structuring their online content in a way that provides the viewer with a core story that helps them connect with the brand in a more meaningful way. Not only does this keep the viewer engaged, but it also increases their willingness to get more involved with the content and makes them more willing to share it with others. When this approach is done correctly, it leads to higher conversion and click-through rates and directly ties into some of the other current trends.
It has often been said, “Less is more.” This has become the mantra for many major brands across the web that are using simple one-page designs or reducing the number of pages to the essential elements of their brand’s story. This appeals to the users’ desire for simplicity, makes it easier for them to find what they are looking for and increases usability for mobile users, which represents over 40 percent of all web users. If the website in question is directed more at mobile users, such as a restaurant website, a site can get even more simple.
A side effect of the “less is more” approach has been a greater preference for scrolling instead of clicking. With a limited number of pages, especially in one-page designs, designers can create a better mobile experience by allowing users to scroll through the content on an individual page. It’s more intuitive for mobile users, cuts down on load times and increases usability.
Today we see more sites using an approach in which a large image scales to completely fill the screen or imagery dominates the site next to a limited amount of content. With the overall acceptance of responsive design, which allows images to adapt to the screen size, this has become easier to accomplish and standardize across browsers. The use of large images helps keep viewers engaged and forces designers to be focused in the content they include and the order and manner in which they present it. This simplicity and clarity of content has tied in well with the move toward storytelling.
When large images are combined with typography and subtle motion effects, it creates an engaging environment for the user. Overlaying the photos with text and user interface elements also gives texture that makes it more interesting to look at and interact with, and the increase of devices with high-resolution displays has made this technique even more effective.
Traditionally, a very limited number of web type-kits could safely be used in web design. Over the past few years, this number has grown exponentially and, with the introduction of services like Google Fonts, using a variety of fonts in site design has become not only more accessible, but also more affordable. There is more freedom for designers working with a smaller budget to bring their typography skills to the web design table. When used properly within a responsive site, designers can create typographical layouts that properly display to all users, despite their screen size.
Responsive design is nothing new and has become the industry standard over the last year or two. Any designer who is not using a responsive layout is now behind the times, but the real question is how responsive design will evolve. The field of wearable tech, such as the Apple Watch, is really the next frontier for responsive design. Apps for these wearables and other smaller devices can now be built as online web apps that respond to the device for which they are being used.
Responsive layouts are built on modular or grid-based structures, designs in which content is laid out in modules on the page that are intended to flex or change position based on the screen size. This has lead to the so-called “Pinterest layout” becoming more popular with sites, consisting of a series of small content boxes rather than in a fewer larger sections.
Bold design is not so much a trend as a new mindset among web designers, which has come about through a combination of new technologies and current trends. Designers can use vibrant colors, strong typography, beautiful images and uniquely responsive content to stand out from the crowd, and they love it! You can find a number of sites across the web where the brand and designer have taken a chance and come away with an unexpected approach to their website’s design that makes a quick and forceful impact on the user.
These represent just a few of the design trends that can currently be found around the web. As designers, we are always trying to keep abreast of these trends and work to sometimes create some of our own. Next year or even next month, there will be another new trend, and some of the current ones will either have fallen to the wayside or simply become standard design practice.