Just when you thought you’d cracked your latest web design, a new trend crashes in to make things look outdated. The world of web design is in a constant state of change. The capacity for web designers is ever increasing, which means we have more freedom. Just take a look at the Facebook website 10 years ago to see how far we’ve come! In just a short period of time, the entire world of web design has changed dramatically. With that in mind, what can we expect for the coming year?
We’ve asked each of the designers at our firm to tell us the one major web design trend they see dominating 2016. Thanks to their ideas, we’ve been able to put together a comprehensive list of trends. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comment section at the end. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most important design changes in 2016.
1. Simplicity is more important than ever
Photo credit: Apple
Although things are changing all the time, one thing will remain the same: simplicity. If anything, websites are becoming cleaner and simpler by the day. It’s increasingly clear that web design isn’t just about looking beautiful, it’s about function. It’s our job to make sure the visitor clicks on the right buttons, and follows the correct user journey. Simplicity is the key to intuitive navigation and brilliant user experience. We’re also increasingly aware that any site we design must now translate to a mobile device. That means a clean, simple design is more important than ever.
2. Long scroll and parallax
Photo credit: Squarespace
We’re seeing more and more sites with the endless scroll feature. You often see it on content and photo rich sites. In other words, the site automatically loads more content as you scroll, so it never ends. Gone are the days of flicking through endless pages of content. Interestingly, some designers are taking this to the next level with parallax scrolling. This is simple form of animation, where the background or images appear to move as you scroll down. It’s been used by Pitchfork, The Guardian, and the New York Times to tell stories to incredible effect.
3. Card designs
Photo credit: Silktricky
Card designs have always existed on the internet. However, it took the huge growth of Pinterest to push this design format into mainstream. It’s another simple design that presents the content in various cards across the screen. The Windows 10 operating system is an obvious example of this design. You’ll also notice the latest MySpace website focuses on this design (if anyone still visits it!) It’s a great way to present lots of different content.
4. Hamburger menus
Photo credit: GitHub
It’s clear that designers still haven’t found the perfect way to organise menus. In an endless quest for simplicity and cleanliness, the hamburger menu has become very popular. You’ll have seen this on a lot of modern websites. Rather than having a navigation bar across the top, there’s a little stack icon in the top corner. (It looks like a hamburger, hence the name). Clicking this will pull out the menu options. It’s neat and tidy, but I don’t think we’ve seen the end of experimentation in the menu category.
5. Hero images
Now that internet speeds can handle large, high-res images, designers are taking advantage. Using a huge ‘hero’ image that dominates the entire page is becoming very common indeed. It gives your visitors a strong visual first impression, and helps strengthen the brand. Plus, it looks great. Many designers are also putting these hero images on a carousel so it switches at regular intervals. The great thing about this trend is that it looks fantastic when translated to a mobile device too.
Photo credit: dribbble
Again, thanks to the increased internet speeds and resolutions, designers can get very clever indeed. We’re starting to see a lot more animations, both big and small. From intricate and personalised loading wheels to full-scale story animations, expect to see more. In the past, you’d have to rely on Flash to create and display these animations. That was a nightmare for loading times and SEO. Now, however, you can create animations using simple coding. Try it with hover-over animations or larger story-telling images.
7. Flat and material design
Not so long ago, designers were testing the boundaries of depth and space with drop shadows. It seemed every designer was on a quest to make their icons and text jump out of the screen. Now, we are reverting back to a simpler design. Flat design is now the industry standard, so say goodbye to drop shadows. Again, it makes everything look simpler and more minimal. It also translates better to mobile devices. Recently, Google has launched its own style language: material design. It’s very similar to flat design, but allows you to start adding a little more depth. Expect to see designers experimenting with it this year.
8. Responsive design
Of course, we couldn’t leave out the biggest driving force of them all: responsive design. This is a trend that started last year (or two years ago if you were quick off the mark). However, responsive design will become a necessity over the next twelve months. Put simply, a responsive design is one that functions perfectly no matter what device accesses it. Your website will automatically snap to fit an iPhone, tablet or laptop. No more pesky second mobile sites necessary.
9. More personal and bespoke designs
One key trend that is creeping in is the move towards individuality. Web design has always been a great way to establish a brand, but it’s getting even easier. Thanks to last year’s Google update, designers can now use more fonts than ever before. We’ll start to lose stock images for good as photography and Photoshop gets more accessible. We’ll see designers creating bespoke icons rather than taking packaged options. Expect more personality in web design this year.
That’s all for now, folks! Have we missed any major design trends in the industry? Let us know in the comment section.