2016 is almost here and it’s time for looking ahead a bit and trying to predict what trends will appear and evolve in web design in the nearest time, what will fade away and what you’d better forget forever.
Making predictions in a modern world is a thankless task. Technologies change so fast that any prediction can appear an off-market one in a blink of an eye. On the other hand, some trends become so popular that stay at the market peak for many years and undergo only slight improvements. But those experienced designers who work in this field everyday can notice those slight shifts early.
Like Facebook designer Julie Zhuo, who made recently a whole 10-year prediction for web design trends. I guess I’m not that brave to look so far, but I can spot some trends emerging that will definitely be on top the next year. Let’s check out the most vigorous web design trends that we may see in 2016.
Color palette is the aspect that stays under the spotlight of many professionals including interior designers and fashion stylists. And if you look closer, you can spot that color trends are universal for all fields that work with visual info. Thus, keeping an eye on popular colors in interior or fashion design, you can predict what colors will rule in web design field. 2016 seems to be the time of vibrant colors use and bold tone combinations.
Bright colors were usually a prerogative for creative websites, like designers portfolios or photographer personal pages. Today we see bright tones use in various designs, even in those traditionally restrained black-and-white business or finance websites.
The popularity of vibrant colors may be related to the increasing use of hi-res displays including Retina. Metro and flat styles also acted as catalysts for implementing more colors in design due to their form and layout simplicity.
It doesn’t mean that minimalist style will fade away in 2016. Quite the contrary, it will stay one of the most popular design trends for the next few years. Bright colors help making minimalist design more appealing without overloading it with many elements or decorations. Remember white space that is actively used in clean-style layouts doesn’t always mean white color. You can use bold color as it is for the background, add gradients or highlight with it the most vital elements.
Some designers call this style an “almost-flat” design since it adds a bit of depth to flat elements. Material Design showed increase in popularity among web designers this year and this tendency seems to continue the next year.
Material Design bears the main advantages of Flat with that difference that Material adds third dimension (a so-called z-axis) to highlight elements that should be either clicked or somehow used. It combines beauty with usability making this trend very attractive for website development. Animations add more to design since they are used not for pure decorations but for usability improvement.
Google has made one clever thing: it created a Guidelines to Material Design and encouraged people use its principles in their works. It made this style more comprehensible to designers leaving no room for guessing what to do to achieve this or that result.
Typography is a unique element for website design. Used wisely it can not only convey meaning (what is written) but serve as a decorative element (how it’s written). Today typography is used more and more in website design for decoration and bears functions similar to the colors use.
Large typeface appeared in web designs due to mobile-usability requirements. It was clear that texts on smaller screens should be larger to be readable. Soon this trend evolved into the use of huge type for creating attractive designs.
Great availability of free typefaces, especially introduction of Google Fonts, makes typography a cool design element that opens massive opportunities for web designers. Moreover, a great choice of free or low-cost (but still cool) typefaces makes creation of custom designs an easy task even for non-designers.
Along with the mentioned above trend of bold colors use, large typography can create stunning effect in website design. Since the use of typography requires deeper knowledge of fonts, their sizes, combinations and overall compatibility with the surrounding design.
Single-page design is not a new trend and has been around for a couple of years. However, we can expect it to stay in web designers’ focus a little longer. It is a controversial trend that still has many haters as well as its backers.
Single-page designs are widely used for landing pages since this kind of websites doesn’t require complex structure. This trend also appeared due to the mobile-oriented web where focus on website usability meant discarding all less vital elements and making website navigation as easy as possible. Single page websites transform into mobile-friendly layouts much easier than multi-page sites with complex structure.
Of course, single-page design will work not for every website. With one-page design you still need to rethink the navigation (making it “sticky” to the top of the page, adding a “to the top” button to allow users easily return to the top of the page). But this trend will definitely stay in focus during the next year.
This trend is closely connected to one-page websites trend. Due to the wide use of mobile devices, scroll became more user-friendly technique than clicking. Many website designs use long scroll to tell their story and engage users.
It’s hard to tell whether it’s a scrolling technique affected “above-the-fold” theory, or vice versa. However, the fold matters less for modern web. Many website owners still hold on to the idea of putting the most vital elements – like CTAs – above the fold. The truth is – it depends. Attracting a user and making him or her scroll down to the point of conversion is much harder than simply putting the “Buy now” button within the first vertical 600 px of the screen. But it pays more to your website and its usability.
With the growth of mobile devices use for the Internet browsing, mobile-friendly navigation issues come to a focus more often. A long-time discussed “hamburger” menu icon is one of the best solutions for now.
Despite the fact many web designers argue against the “hamburger” menu use for desktop website versions, this tiny three-bar icon wins responsive web and it seems that we will see more and more “hamburgers” in the nearest future.
Actually, the main argument against “hamburger” menus was its low recognition. Since more and more websites use it, I don’t think this issue is vital anymore. It seems to be more user-friendly that other types of responsive navigation like a sticky menu bar on top or a hidden menu.
Since visuals are one of the most essential aspects for any website, large imagery like background images and videos will be definitely used more across websites. HD hero images or full-background photos are the best way to grab a user’s attention. Advanced technologies allow reducing bandwidth and compress images for mobile without losses to achieve a high-quality imagery on smaller size. Thus, large photos won’t hurt UX and won’t affect loading speed either.
Videos are also powerful means of drawing attention to the website and its content. But here you should be more careful with their weight since website’s loading speed is one of the parameters Google considers when ranking it.
Creating a good layout means making it beautiful and user-friendly at the same time. Modern web design is focusing on both these aspects, so it constantly improves layout to achieve the best results.
We can see card or grid layout throughout a few last years. It started with Metro style and then continued within Pinterest-like designs. This layout type is especially comfy for creating responsive websites since you can group cards into movable blocks to fit smaller screens. Blocks and cards open a wast space for creativity on content representation.
Split layouts have also already been here for a while. it also divides content into portions, but those chunks are much larger than within a grid layout. You divide a screen into two vertical parts and organize your content within those parts. It also opens many opportunities for web designers from using different colors for each piece of content to animation effects for navigation.
Centered content bears an idea opposite to that of split layout. It gathers all essential elements and messages in the center of the layout to draw user’s attention to it. Simple and calm surrounding works perfect for this type. Centered content is used great on one-page websites and minimalist designs.
One of the major shifts in recent years was a blurring distinction between the work of designer and developer. Today it becomes the norm for designers to have some coding skills. It’s not a problem for a modern designer to use various prototyping services and quickly throw a cool prototype that shows dynamic content instead of creating plain static mock-ups that should be encoded.
With the growing number of various prototyping tools available on the web, designers have more opportunities to see how their projects will work. Work in browser with online tools also becomes an everyday routine for more and more designers and developers. MotoCMS is also this kind of tool that allows developers creating websites online. And soon we expect to see more apps that will allow producing website right on mobile devices.