Welcome to 2016! We hope that the New Year has treated you well so far. As web developers, we are excited to see what changes and advances await us in the coming year. We don’t always realize how much web design changes by the day, until we look back at several years in the making and see how different design looks. For example, do you remember the clunky, slow-loading web pages that were built for desktop users? Today’s websites are slick, clean and easy to navigate on all devices.
As we look forward to 12 months of new technology, it’s important to be open to the advances in this industry. If you’re not relevant, you run the risk of falling short of your competitors, and you can’t afford this when people are only giving you a few seconds of their time. You need to wow your audience and make a great first impression.
If you haven’t updated your site in several years, or you’re simply interested in ways to enhance it, here are 8 web design trends that we think you should be familiar with in 2016.
1. Responsive Web Design
You may think that a responsive website is the norm for today, but you’d be surprised at how many companies still have site architecture that is difficult to use on multiple devices. If you’re not sure about the responsiveness of your website, run it through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If you don’t score well, think about the improvements you can make. Responsive websites should load quickly and have readable text, intuitive site architecture and easy navigation.
2. Storytelling and Interaction
Content will continue to dominate websites and mobile apps in 2016, but the type of content is changing. People are short on time and attention, so it’s important to make an impression quickly. One of the ways to do this is through storytelling and interaction. Rather than asking people to read through long paragraphs or sort through messy bullet points, you can share your message through storytelling. Expect to see web design becoming more interactive and animated, with a perfect blend of typography and visuals.
3. Performance and Speed
You want your site to look good, but it’s even more important that it performs well. If you don’t provide visitors with a good user experience, they are more likely to leave your site and share their bad experience with others. For this reason, more designers are giving attention to the weight of their sites and how people interact with them. Performance and speed are critical components to user experience, which is why web designers are opting for optimized images, the placement of script tags, the use of libraries and frameworks and fast hosting.
4. Ghost Buttons
Ghost buttons have been a hot trend for flat and minimal web designs, and we can expect to see this trend continue into 2016. The clickable button features a simple border and transparent background that makes it visible but not obnoxious. I don’t know about you, but I’m always drawn to clicking on these buttons. As more sites adopt a cleaner, streamlined design, ghost buttons will be a hot commodity, particularly with a high contrast background.
5. Quirky Illustrations
Hand-drawn illustrations are gaining momentum in the web design world. They’re lighter on websites than some photos and videos, but they still bring a distinct image to the brand. And unlike stock photography that can get redundant, you can be certain that a hand-drawn illustration won’t be found on any other site. It will be truly unique. Of course, these edgy drawings need to fit your brand’s image, but we’re certain a freelance artist can achieve this for you for a reasonable cost.
6. Bigger, Better Typography
You wouldn’t produce a video that was fuzzy, yet websites continue to publish content that is hard to read. In 2016, watch for bigger and better typography that makes reading a breeze rather than a struggle. Rather than downloading a free font from the Web, more developers are opting for custom typography that is exclusively made for the brand. This, along with custom visuals, is what will separate one brand from the next.
7. Almost-Flat Design
Flat design is stripped dry of fluff and frills, possessing bold colors, simple shapes and simple typography. Unfortunately, flat design also has its problems. Almost-flat design is destined to fix these issues while bringing forward the benefits of flat design. Elements are given depth and dimension to avoid an entirely flat look, yet the design remains simple and easy to navigate.
8. Hidden Menus
Menus are great for organizing information, but they can also be overwhelming. Remember that people are short on time, so they want the information they came for quickly. This is where hidden menus really shine. Because they aren’t out in the open, they allow the design to remain uncluttered. Yet when visitors want to dig a little deeper, the hidden menus can be found and guide them around the site.
When it comes to web design trends, it’s important to evaluate which ones will complement your brand. Just because something is trending doesn’t mean it will fit your vision. For instance, if your brand is all about serving people, you may find quirky illustrations to be out of touch. Your audience will probably enjoy seeing human emotion in true-to-life photos instead. But there are some things to take away from these latest trends such as the need for a simple, well-designed website that offers a great user experience each and every time.