Every year it seems that the great wide world (of) web design is as fickle as it is fantastical; new trends emerge and are hailed as either the Holy Grail or hellish and horrible. Designers are mostly dictated by developments in technology. So, unless you’ve a backstage pass or are fluent in the elusive language of code, it’s tough to know where these web design trends will go.
If you’re planning a new website for your business in the coming year, we’ve listed the top trends to watch out for. Buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy ride, as we delve into the dazzling world of web design – and what you can expect from 2016.
Responsive design will reign
Thanks to the rise of mobile internet, responsive web design (RWD) has become incredibly popular in recent years. It’s safe to say that it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon (as smartphone addiction is now a bona fide health condition listed by the World Health Organisation) so web design will continue to respond to the user’s device or platform so that user experience is still fluid, easy and enjoyable.
The advantages of RWD are endless; it’s Google-friendly and improves your SEO, and it increases audience, sales and conversion rates. Studies show that responsive sites achieve 11% more conversions than non-responsive sites. Acknowledging and accepting, even embracing, responsive design shows our ability to reimagine the way content is delivered – and keep ahead in a constantly evolving environment.
Colour is a cornerstone of basic design theory – even a novice knows that colour will greatly contribute to the overall aesthetic of your site and provide cues for user interaction. Vibrancy can complement many different design styles, and it’s no longer just the creative fields that are utilising this tool.
By using highly saturated and neon palettes, companies are taking a bold stance when it comes to colour. Vibrant hues are a great way to jazz up dry subject matter; for example Bloomberg’s Insights page uses a pink and blue gradient. This gives an eye-catching feel that goes against the status quo of other business and political websites. What works well about bright and bold colours is that they add extra dimension to any project. Definitely watch out for this one in the notoriously conservative (not boring) B2B sector.
Inspiring iconography and flippin’ nice fonts
Icons have been the Marmite of web design for a while now, but love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay. Developers argue the accessibility issues; the trouble with viewing icons in text-only browsers, and the HTTP issues; do icons unnecessarily tax your server and increase page loading times? On the other hand, designers praise icons for being space-saving and visually pleasing. And thanks to the surge of User Interface (UI) and icon kits now available, they’re easier than ever to work with and more affordable too. Expect to see your icons bigger and better in 2016. They’ll also be in keeping with the flat designs that have been so popular this past year.
When it comes to fonts, traditionally, designers tend to play it safe. Now, daring fonts are becoming much more accessible (thanks to the likes of Google Fonts and Adobe Typekit) and the way we view text online is changing. Streamlined interfaces have created the space for some beautiful typography. There’s also a must-try trend for pairing a readable, sans-serif font with a more novelty, nice-to-look-at option – previously a huge no-no in web design. Still no resurgence for poor old Comic Sans, mind.
Hungry for a hamburger?
We couldn’t discuss the trend for icons without a special mention to the controversial ‘hamburger’ menu. The hamburger menu, or the three stacked lines, usually found in the top left or right-hand corner of a page (to explain its meaty moniker, think bun-burger-bun) has been one of the most debated design trends of 2015.
Adored by designers thanks to its simplicity, this menu hides the navigation from view until expanded. It’s actually been widely criticised for hiding vast swathes of your website from users. However, against the odds and hordes of hamburger-haters, the menu quickly caught on… And now, most web users are now familiar with the little blighters. Combined with the increase in users that are viewing content on mobile sites, it seems the humble hamburger is here to stay.
Alongside these, we’re predicting a rise in subtle animations (loading icons and hover-overs), full-screen forms and input pages. We’ll aslo see more blurred background images (increasing loading speed and adds mystery… You just gotta’ click it!).
Thankfully, it’s now common knowledge that web design is in no way a one-size-fits-all one-trick-pony. As with any trend (yes, you, mullets and bootcut trousers), it’s important to take these with a pinch of salt. Web design trends represent popular techniques, and for good reason, but rather than jumping on any web design bandwagon, it’s important to always keep your users in mind – by utilising only what works for them.