The world of web design is quickly and continuously evolving, and keeping up with current website design trends is more essential than ever. Being trendy often has a negative connotation, but in web design it’s not always a bad thing. Let me explain.
Ask most consumers what makes a good website, and they’ll respond the same way: “A good website makes it easy to find what I want.” Keep this in mind for a moment.
A trend is a style or experience that is currently popular with consumers. If something is popular, it means that the majority of consumers are very familiar with it.
Put those two ideas ideas together now.
By properly utilizing trends, a designer or business owner can deliver a familiar website experience to consumers, making it easy to find what they are looking for, no matter what that may be.
The trick is to properly utilize trends. You still want your website design to stand out to consumers, and you can’t do that by designing a cookie-cutter site that tries to implement every single trend. You don’t want to bore consumers.
So, is it possible to build a website that is both trendy and unique? Absolutely. A good designer will craft a site that blends a company’s unique brand with a familiar user experience. A savvy business owner will hire a designer who can make that happen!
Here are some web design trends to watch in 2016:
#1 Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design has become incredibly popular, and for good reason. It’s a cheap and effective way to have your website display and function optimally across a wide range of devices. With the majority of searches now performed on mobile devices, responsive design is kind of a big deal.
It’s safe to say responsive design isn’t going away anytime soon, and it’s become more of a best practice than a trend.
#2 Card Layouts
Going hand in hand with responsive web design is the card layout, which became popular with the rise of Pinterest. Card layouts break information down into convenient and digestible little pieces and then display the content in rectangular containers, or cards.
Cards are useful because they can display a variety of information in an organized manner, all while being incredibly responsive to different screen sizes.
#3 Flat/Material Design
If you don’t know the difference between flat and material design, here’s a great article that explains both.
In short, flat design is the most basic, simplistic form of design. Gone are shadows, gradients, textures, or any effects that give the appearance of three dimensions. Flat design relies heavily on solid colors, icons, and typography.
Material design is a newer design style. It uses flat design as a starting point, and then adds in a few details such as subtle shadows, textures, and animations to help our eyes discern layers and importance. A little company called Google is the biggest proponent of material design, having developed it themselves.
Both flat and material design are wildly popular, and both are legitimate design styles to be using in 2016. Each style has its own list of advantages and flaws, and it’s up to each designer to utilize the right style for his or her clients.
#4 Focus On Typography
Thanks to resources like Google Fonts, web designers now have access to a large library of free, web safe fonts, which makes it easy to change the personality of a website and make it really stand out.
As webfont libraries continue to grow, expect an increasing level of consideration given to website font selection in an effort to make them unique. Also, expect to see some large, bold font sizes and different colors as designers continue to experiment with these relatively new font resources in an effort to capture consumers’ attention.
#5 Hero Images and Cinemagraphs
Hero images have been popular for awhile now, and will continue to dominate website designs in 2016 as high resolution device screens display images better than ever. Vision is a powerful sense, and one of the most effective ways to grab someone’s attention when they first visit a website is with a large image splashed across the screen. A hero image can make a great first impression and immediately communicate the website’s industry or purpose.
A newer twist on hero images is the cinemagraph. Cinemagraphs are high quality still photos with a subtle repeated motion. If you aren’t familiar with them, you need to check out some examples. Implemented carefully, a cinemagraph can put your website home page over the top. There aren’t currently many stock cinemagraphs available (certainly not when compared to stock photos), so finding one to use may be difficult. As they become more popular, they’ll be easier to find. There’s always the option of creating a custom, business specific cinemagraph to really impress consumers.
Following a trend isn’t a bad thing. But don’t follow a trend just because it’s popular. Treat trends like tools in your toolbox, using them only when they benefit the website you’re working on. And always feel free to add your own unique twist. Who knows, you might start something!