Trends characterize all creative fields, and the field of web design is no different. As time goes by, tastes evolve, and different design trends become the norm. Over the course of web design history, an enormous amount has changed, much of it for the better.
Things, however, continue to evolve, and businesses need to keep up if they want their websites to be compelling. Here are some of the most interesting web design trends we expect to develop over the next twelve months.
More and more businesses are experimenting with illustrations. They’re seen as a kind of fun, playful element to add to websites that make them seem more personalized. Over the course of the year, many businesses will employ top-notch illustrators to produce hand drawn designs for their websites which they can then upload.
The whole point of bespoke illustrations is, of course, to add some personality to the firm’s brand. All too often, companies choose generic stock photos to present their businesses and never fully take advantage of all the benefits a more personalized approach offers.
Bespoke illustrations have been around for a while, but as with most things, it takes time for a trend to penetrate the whole industry. As industry demand rises, more illustrators will be employed, and they’ll be tackling all sorts of projects, from custom header images to hand-drawn icons.
Dropbox, the cloud storage company, has been early to get on the bespoke website illustration bandwagon. They’ve turned their brand image from terse and professional to fun and enticing using pictures.
Businesses have known for a long time that to be successful, they’ve got to be bold. There’s no benefit in being shy and reclining, especially when you’re competing with other businesses online.
This year, though, we’re going to see typography becoming the medium of choice for generating impact. Words and letters themselves will be used to evoke emotional responses and set the tone of a website.
The reason for the growth in big, bold typography has to do with improving screen resolutions. When screen resolutions were low, words looked blocky and unattractive. However, in the last few years, high resolutions screens have gone mainstream, especially on mobile devices. This means that the edges of letters now look beautiful and smooth, no matter how close you get. Because typography suddenly has aesthetic appeal, we can expect that a lot more companies will experiment with it. They’ll use it in conjunction with dynamic image layering and parallax scrolling.
Ever since the invention of the premium website builder, web designers have been emphasizing big, beautiful photos on their website. They’ve always been a stalwart of web design. But now people are looking for websites that not only provide beauty but which provide authentic beauty. In practice, that means that businesses need to go out and take their own photos (or hire a photographer to do it for them).
Stock photography is supposed to be appealing, and stock photography companies go to extreme lengths to make sure that all their images are airbrushed and perfectly lighted. The only problem is that consumers know that that’s not what the real world looks like and so they immediately become suspicious of whether the photos really do accurately represent the company. What they want to see are photographs of the company in action, stylized perhaps, but still with enough blemishes and imperfections to convince them that they’re looking at the real deal. The last thing you want is for your customers to be put off your business because you used misleading photography.
Animations Get More Interactive
Animations have been a part of digital presentation since the first Power Point slides, two decades ago. For a long time, they were seen as cheesy and unprofessional, but now that animations have become so sophisticated and no longer come with annoying sound effects, they’re making a comeback.
Storytelling and personality are essential elements of every great website. The savviest businesses, therefore, are concentrating on capturing their user’s attentions with animations written in CSS and HTML5. Animations are finding their way into all aspects of web design, from wiggling call-to-action buttons to maps and blogs that self-assemble from their various elements, right in front of your eyes.
Perhaps the biggest place we’re likely to see animations are in so-called “micro-interactions.” This helps to make a site less static and more visually appealing, especially if the interactions are carefully deployed.
Video Will Dominate
Just a couple of years ago, you were hard pushed to find a business website that immediately presented you with a video. Now you’re hard pushed not to find one. Instead of the usual banner photo running across the top of the page, businesses are now using video to convey their message, knowing that it’s a more powerful and engaging tool.
Businesses have dumped the traditional banner photo for a couple of reasons. The first is that video is a heck of a lot better for SEO. By some estimates, it’s around 57 times better, meaning that businesses are getting good bang for their buck. Second, video helps to improve the all-important dwell time: the amount of time people spend on your website before clicking back to Google. Even people who accidentally clicked on your site, thinking it was something else, are more likely to stick around longer if you’ve got a video for them to watch. The longer the average person spends on your site, the more Google will reward you with higher rankings in the future.
The Year Of Colour
Finally, many brands are now experimenting with courageous colors: colors that they normally wouldn’t use but are helpful in attracting attention. 2015 and 2016 were very much the years when companies played it safe, filling up vast swathes of their websites with blank, white spaces. But that trend seems to be abating, and now companies are being bold. Spotify, for instance, temporarily dumped its usual green for a mixture of purple and blue for its web pages celebrating the music of 2016.