Last year, it was all about hamburger menus, hero images and responsive websites. In 2016, we’ve already seen new design trends come and go – but we’ve also seen a few gems that are here to stay.
Here are our picks for the seven most impactful web design trends of the year so far…
1. Large, bold imagery
With slow loading times (mostly) a thing of the past, a lot of websites are making full use of large, bold imagery.
Images are one of the fastest ways to grab attention and can communicate a lot in a very short space of time. They offer a fantastic way to connect with your visitors while simplifying your design and ensuring that you don’t overpower them with text.
As well as high-quality photography, this web design trend is also making use of original illustrations that can complement the overall style of the brand.
Be warned though, there’s a difference between bold imagery and using generic stock photos. Covering your website with grey suits, over-the-top grins and business handshakes may do more harm than good. In fact, the Nielson Norman Group have conducted an eye-tracking study to show that people will generally ignore this kind of image altogether.
With the availability of high-quality photography and a large number of websites such as Unsplash or Pikwizard that offer alternatives to artificial stock photos, there’s plenty of reason to get behind this trend.
2. Long scrolls
Though some people will debate whether short-scrolling or long-scrolling is the best way to consume content, long scrolls has certainly proven it’s not going anywhere soon.
This web design trend translates itself well across all devices, achieves a minimalist look and works especially well for companies that are aiming to tell a story through their website.
Through the use of pictures or a changing colour scheme, the long scroll can break down into sections and save the visitor from having to navigate through a large number of pages. These sections also provide an excellent opportunity to strip the components back to their bare essentials. With a section instead of an entire page, you can ensure that you are delivering your information in a clear and concise way.
The website we recently created for Blueprint Interiors is a great example of a long scroll in action.
3. Product/brand explainer
An explainer is a short video that explains the company, service or product to the viewer. Usually under two minutes long, they are short, lighthearted videos that can help customers make an informed buying decision.
Take this explainer from Pinterest as an example:
As well as informing website visitors, Case Complete has proved that explainers can do wonders to your conversation rate. After using one on its homepage, the company achieved an increased conversion rate of 23%.
Explainers are a great way to make a quick, memorable impact on your audience. It’s no wonder they have become a web design trend this year.
As we predicted at the start of the year, flat design is going nowhere.
Compatible with other trends, flat design scales well, is easily read on mobile, minimises distractions and is an all-round practical design.
As flat design continues to be used, there has been a trend towards pairing it with complementary, vibrant colour schemes. By emphasising the purpose of each page with vibrant colour, clear typography and bold calls to action, flat design lets products and services shine with fewer distractions to get in the way.
This web design trend will make your site stand out while ensuring your visitors follow a specific flow of action – and enjoy an instinctive user experience.
This trend was initially popularised by websites like Pinterest. Grids are ideal for scanning small, bite-sized pieces of information.
By making the grids irregular, the design trend is able to show all varieties of media without cropping them into a symmetrical grid. It makes use of all the available screen real estate without compromising on the images.
The irregular grid’s asymmetry is also an eye-catching aspect that not only looks good, but can draw more attention to your primary component.
Animation has made a big impact on this year’s web design trends. Small or large scale, animations can make a website more entertaining and greatly enhance its storytelling.
For the most part, there has been a move toward changing everyday animations into something more personal. Whether that’s building custom loading animations that feature company branding, or small touches like Twitter’s heart animation.
Here’s the new heart animation, frame by frame pic.twitter.com/CigVBVguUw
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) November 3, 2015
Animations can also add a level of interactivity to a website while serving a purpose. A good example of this is hover effects. These effects are triggered by the user rolling their mouse over the content and provide instant visual feedback and information.
Although small scale animations are used in the majority, websites like Species in Pieces are proving the impact that large-scale animations can make.
The website features a loading video that explains the exhibit of endangered species. The species on the page are all interactive animations that the user can scroll through.
Although loading videos aren’t ideal for most companies whose users want to get straight through to the content, they fit perfectly with a website like Species in Pieces, and can work wonders at a much smaller scale.
This trend is a great way to add more interactivity to your website and therefore more engaged visitors.
Despite seemingly being a corporate nightmare, ‘white space’ is one web design trend that won’t be going away anytime soon.
White space (or clear space) ensures that your website design is kept simple. Encouraging minimalist designs, white space ensures that you do not fill your website with distracting clutter. By increasing white space around your content, it not only looks cleaner but also draws attention to the things that matter the most.
Apple’s website is a great example of how white space is effectively used. By removing all unnecessary clutter, the website ensures all attention is focused on relevant information and calls to action.
In addition to white space, the website also pairs the web design trends of long-scrolling, small animations and large, bold imagery to create a sleek, simple and professional look.
Web design is such a fast-evolving industry that we can’t afford to take our fingers off the pulse. The battle for attention online is being fought with bold imagery, eye-catching animation and snappy explainer videos, but the fundamentals come back to one thing: user experience.
Even though these trends look great, it’s always essential to have a design that helps your visitors get the most out of your website.
If you’re thinking of giving your website a fresh look, get in touch today and find out how our experts can create the perfect design for you and your ideal audience.
Meanwhile, we’ll be looking forward to the second half of 2016 and the next steps in web design…