When it comes to the internet, one thing you can count on is that everything is changing—almost always. Working to stay current is just a part of the package if you want your site to thrive (and we’re sure you do). Whether you’re a business owner or webmaster, it’ll be important to keep up with the web design trends for 2016. We’ll explore what we’re leaving behind in the new year, what we’re replacing it with, and what will stick around.
Web Design Trends for 2016
Out with the old . . .
Many webmasters and users alike have become tired of the latest trend for design—the “hero” layout. You likely know what we’re talking about: a “tall” webpage with lots of vertical scrolling; clean, clear colors and lines; and wide, static backgrounds. The design itself is great, which is why it became so popular—it’s flexible for responsive web design and it’s easy to navigate. The problem? Everyone loved it a little too much, and websites began looking unoriginal. Designers are hoping that these new web design trends for 2016 will bring back different sites’ originality, in addition to exploring new areas.
. . . and in with the new.
In 2016, webmasters and designers will likely begin . . .
- Implementing original illustrations or animations. When you’re in the web industry, every banner photo of happy-looking customers or employees starts to look the same. This rising trend is an easy fix for that. Consider hiring an illustrator to compose some unique, eye-catching artwork for your site, and that will instantly set you apart from other similar pages or businesses in your area. Some designers want to go a step further and recruit an animator to create a more engaging way for users to interact with the site.
- Including cinemagraphs. Haven’t heard of cinemagraphs? They’re like GIFs’ cool cousin. Like GIFs, these are moving pictures; the movement aims to enhance the image. The two have some important distinctions, though. In a cinemagraph, the animator places emphasis on a specific object or set of objects in the photo and animates those, not the entire image. The objective here is to create a more focused aesthetic. Additionally, cinemagraphs will always loop seamlessly, whereas GIFs often look disjointed as they repeat. Check out some examples if you’re still confused.
- Creating micro-experiences. Micro-experiences are most simply defined as tasks that accomplish a single goal. They can be bare-bones (liking a Facebook post), or more complicated (registering an account with a site). In 2016, webmasters are looking at how they can improve these micro-experiences to boost overall user experience. One way many sites are accomplishing this is creating self-contained apps or workflows that launches separately, allowing the user to stay focused on their reading, shopping, or browsing. Let’s break that down—returning to the registering an account example, many sites have a link on their page where users can do this, and the link takes them to a separate page. However, if it’s, say, a clothing company and the user has been shopping, leaving that page to register takes the user away from their main task at hand. A better option would be to create a mini app that generates a callout area for the user to register with the site without leaving the page he or she is currently on. Implementing micro-experiences like this makes your site more effective for your users.
So, what isn’t going away?
These new trends are gaining popularity, but that hardly means most of what you know about web design will go out the window. Even with the coming changes this year, there are a couple of tried and true web staples you should keep doing:
- Valuing user experience over design, and
- Implementing typography.
Don’t let focusing on a new design for your page outweigh your users’ experience—a custom animation will hinder, not help, your site if it’s too distracting from important links or content. Design should enhance user experience, not detract from it! Similarly, responsive web design isn’t going anywhere. This has been one of the largest steps in boosting UX.
Another design tenet that isn’t going away any time soon is unique typography. In fact, this is a growing part of web design. Webmasters have noticed in the last few years that your site’s typography is a huge part of its overall design, for better or for worse. If you haven’t already, take a look at Google’s free font collection. Look for a font that suits your site, one that is legible and inviting.