Now is a GREAT time to be involved in web design. From the explosion in devices and screen sizes to the revolution in web typography and interactive interfaces, the current possibilities and future potential are beyond what most designers felt possible even five years ago.
The year 2015 is set to be an exciting one in web design. Expect changes and expect surprises. With that in mind, here are a handful of major web design trends that will be coming your way this year.
Mobile Internet usage actually surpassed desktop Internet usage this past year. With the explosion of mobile usage, brands need to accommodate various screen dimensions with their websites, and responsive design is a highly effective way to achieve this in both a user-friendly and SEO-friendly manner. Unless your business requires a dedicated mobile site, responsive design is now a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.
With the introduction of “Material Design,” Google aimed to create a visual language that “synthesizes classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science.” The idea was to develop a single underlying framework for users to have unified experiences no matter the device, no matter the screen size and no matter the online destination. Material Design is largely based on metaphors, with surfaces and edges grounded in reality and tactile attributes helping to communicate the representative meaning. The Google Material Design specification can be found here. You can keep up with the latest updates to the Material Design spec here.
Expect more types of touchscreens and expect them to start appearing everywhere. Corning and Microsoft have been exploring new user interfaces for years, and we should expect to start seeing commercial applications become available in the coming year. From screens on tables, appliances and watches to interactive car dashboards, expect more of your everyday surfaces to turn into interactive screens.
And it’s not just the screen surfaces themselves that will be evolving, but also the way we interact with the screens. Leap Motion recently raised $542 million for some serious exploration into motion-powered (e.g., hand gestures, etc.) computing with virtual, holographic interfaces always at your fingertips. There’s now eye-tracking technology from Tobii Rex in Sweden that allows you to use your eyes in the same way you would use a mouse. Technology is being developed that even enables your brain to control the screen without any motor movements. In other words, your thoughts power the user interface. We’re not sure how much of this you’ll see in 2015, but don’t be surprised when it starts infiltrating current assumed computing standards.
Scrolling, Scrolling and More Scrolling
Long, long, long scrolling pages became a hot design approach in the past year, and the trend is only intensifying. With the rise in mobile internet usage, users now find it more intuitive and easier than clicking around a site, and so it only makes sense that this would translate into longer desktop pages, as well. A good implementation of this is Tesla Motors Go Electric website. The page is crazy long, but the content is well thought-out with subtle design and UX surprises along the journey.
The agency Huge conducted a study in 2014 that showed a preference for scrolling below the fold in all tests performed, regardless of screen variations above-the-fold. In an analysis of 25 million unique user sessions, the analytics software company Chartbeat found that many users start scrolling before the page even finishes loading and that 66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold.
With Pinterest, card-based design became a popular way to display a wide range of content on the page in a clean, highly visual way. Highly trafficked sites like Mashable.com, SI.com and Vevo.com use card-based design unapologetically. Vevo nailed it – making use of the design concept while maintaining an extremely clean website.
We’re starting to see more websites incorporating full-screen background videos. In certain cases it’s more of a “new shiny object” syndrome and doesn’t really add any value to the site. In other cases, the implementation is contextually relevant and the video effect is purely awesome. Case in point is the Fullscreen website.
Ghost buttons are buttons that are transparent in the middle. They are typically used for calls-to-action in a website. Ghost buttons are minimal, elegant and stylish, and they are gaining in popularity. Another reason you can expect to see more ghost buttons in 2015 is that they go extremely well with the larger background images being used around the web now.
With the rise in mobile, the design world was in urgent need of a solution for off-screen navigation. A typical website’s navigation is far too complex for the screen on a small mobile device, and so the navicon presented itself as a simple, elegant solution for hiding and retrieving layers of navigation behind a single, small icon like the hamburger menu icon. As more designers are taking their cues from mobile and with more sites being built with responsive design as the foundation, expect more desktop versions of websites to adopt a simple navicon for their underlying more complex navigation.
Web typography is undergoing a revolution. No longer are designers restricted to a few standard fonts. With the introduction of web fonts, a new world of possibilities is upon us. Affordable type kits are increasing in availability. Google Fonts is a great example of freely available fonts that provide designers many more options when concepting a new site. Expect to see a great deal of oversized and bold typography as well as increased letterspacing, as designers create more text-driven designs.