The web industry is a little like a child with ADHD. It can’t sit still too long and will fidget around until it finds something different to be doing. This manifests itself in many ways but none is so important to a business as the website design and user interface experience (commonly called UX). With 2015 now firmly in the past, I’ve taken this opportunity to look at what design trends we might start to see in 2016. This is about where the web is going and by comparing this to your current site, you should be able to see if anything might need changing in the near future.
It was Apple who first popularised flat design in both websites and on their IOS and OSX systems but the trend towards this form of design is not only increasing but looks set to remain in-trend for at least the first part of the year. Flat designs have a lot of benefits for the modern web developer because they conform much better to mobile devices when creating responsive sites. From this, flat 2.0 has been born. It’s a design trait that reintroduces shadows but does so in a way that each element can be created with flat graphics, making each graphic very light for mobile devices but also very modern looking. You’ve probably already seen this with the Google Mail logo. More examples of how Google do things can be found on their Google Design Page. But, don’t discount the original flat design sites just yet, as many companies won’t latch on to these new trends straight away.
The 80s Are Back
Yes, we thought we had got away from them but the increase in retro-gaming chique that we started to see towards the end of last year is set to continue with pixel graphics being one of the ways these design trends will show up. This trend has largely been led by the YouTube generation and indy gaming (which uses these pixelated graphics as a style choice.
But, it’s not just the pixelated graphics that we are inheriting from the 80s. Galactic backgrounds and interactive stars and planets are set to return as well as are rainbow (almost neon) coloured designs which, although modern to look at, evoke the wacky graphics of 80s kids TV shows like the Wide Awake Club or Swap Shop.
Scrolling, Scrolling, Scrolling
There was a time when information “below the fold” (a term never really at home on computer) was missed by intrepid users as they journeyed around your site. I have written before about the 8 second rule and the importance of capturing your users interest. We are starting to see, however, a little more leeway in those rules. This is because of the prevalence of mobile devices on the web now. People are used to having to scroll through long pages to find the information they want. Because of this, one of the trends that will be making an appearance in 2016 is that of the company story told in interactive HTML animations as the user scrolls through your information. It’s all about immersing your user and making sure they won’t click away on to someone else’s site.
2015 was the year of the icon for many websites. Many websites are using icon fonts now to add elements like links to Twitter of Facebook. So prevalent have these links become that 2016 is already starting to see websites that use custom versions of these icons and are now using fully bespoke, full colour icons (using flat design) that scale with the website and are crisp and clear on all monitor sizes.
Font Of All Design
For years, typography has been important in print and graphic design. It is the cornerstone of many a good brand but it has been something difficult to do online without relying on heavy graphic files. With Google Fonts and Typekit being so prevalent now, the technology to bring these font-based designs online is not only possible but being used today. In 2016 we are going to start seeing a lot more of this as the online world starts to catch up with it’s big sister, print.
It’s been said for over a year now, video is the next big thing. In fact, it was always a big thing. It’s something I know quite a lot about, having written my dissertation on video on the web when I was in college, many years ago. Since then, the rise of YouTube has meant that video is finally for the masses and tones of content is being uploaded each day. For web designers and businesses wanting to own a website, the benefits of video are clear, it is a more engaging platform than any other marketing tool. Because of this, many sites have already started to be built around the concept of a central video, or are using video backgrounds to enhance the user experience. In 2016 we are likely going to see the bandwidth available to all users increase significantly which means video on the web will be at the heart of our designs.
That’s just a few things that I think we will see more of this year. The great thing about the sleeping giant that is the internet is that changes happen so very often and I’m sure we will see many more interesting design trends by the end of the year.