If you’re thinking about designing or redesigning your website in 2016, you’re in for an exciting process filled with cool, creative and interesting options. We’re on the other side of a tipping point, so to speak, where the lines between what is UX and design, between what is mobile and desktop, have all but disappeared. There are no lines!
In fact, all of these facets of website design are converging into what is sure to be a year of unique and influential trends in 2016. With that in mind, here are a number of specific web design trends for you to keep in mind in the year ahead.
Hero Videos & Cinemagraphs
We’re moving beyond the hero image and into the age of hero videos. The ability to include video backgrounds on a home page has been around for a while but higher-speed Internet connections and increased video plugin integration is making it easier to create an impactful movie-style visual without sacrificing user experience. HD video that was once only the realm of television can now be a part of any web experience.
Cinemagraphs are on the rise, as well, thanks in part to the arrival of “live photos” on the latest iPhone models. These photos, which can have small movements while maintaining the benefits of a static image, are allowing designers to incorporate nuanced movement in their images without sacrificing real-time overhead or color limitations.
Many websites designed these days incorporate a full-width photo header. With a wide array of stock imagery easily accessible to any company, a website can lose the personal connection users need in a brand experience in the case that the site visitor has seen the images on other sites. Expect more illustrative experiences as a counter trend to the proliferation of stock photography. Illustration allows brands to create the exact, custom brand experience to connect with consumers that otherwise might be difficult to find in a stock photo. Stock photography will continue to have its place (and certainly custom photography will continue to be very important), but more relatable illustration is on the rise.
Also, designers have more access to unique and fun iconography kits than ever before. What was once your simple, standard design element is now an opportunity to be more exploratory and on-brand with smaller, complementary elements on the page.
Animation is being used more and more to create an interactive user experience and make simple actions (such as hovering) part of the storytelling of a site. Rich animation allows designers to take what could be a poor user interaction, like waiting for a video to load, and make it part of the brand personality. Animation is also changing how we view and interact with products on a site, as we’re moving past the static image of a model in a jacket to being able to view a product from all angles in a completely fluid manner.
Greater focus on user experience has finally proven that less is more when it comes to web design. This boom in minimalism in 2015, including everyone from Google and Facebook, isn’t going away in 2016. Users don’t want to be inundated with every piece of information about your brand on your home page.
Apps and mobile computing have shown the influence that even the smallest action or experience can have on user engagement. That attention to detail is now trending over to the experiences we are having on desktop, in part because of responsive design and in part because it is good for the user. From the pushing of a button to the selection of a drop-down menu, the attention to detail a user experiences during any of these micro-interactions can be the difference between them engaging or not engaging with your brand. The lesson: no design element is too small to make a difference!
Bold and Creative Typography
Great typography has always been a key component to branding but a limitation in technology has often constrained even the boldest brands online. More so than ever before, designers and brands have access to readily available custom fonts through sources like Google Fonts, meaning even the smallest brand can make a big statement online. Combined with the rise of flat design and more minimalist approaches, bold and creative typography will be more important in 2016.
To Scoll or Not To Scroll
How much scrolling is too much? That is the big question in 2016, as more and more sites have gone to long scroll form while some are pushing back with no scroll at all. With the surge in mobile computing, we’ve all become accustomed to scrolling and digesting vertical content. It allows you to walk a user through your brand story and it increases user interaction.
However, is there something to be said for having everything you need at once? We know that after 72 hours users remember 65% of the visual content they view whereas they remember only 10% of the text they read. Will the increase in hero video, full-width images and cinemagraphs start to trend against long-form home pages? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
This is a carry-over from our list of website design trends from last year. With Google’s Mobilegeddon in April 2015, the importance of responsive design has only intensified, impacting not only design and UX but also SEO and organic search performance.
In the United States, 68% of adults have a smartphone, while approximately 2 billion people globally are expected to own a smartphone this year. As mobile devices proliferate and different screen sizes multiply, expect to see remaining companies that are not yet employing responsive design finally make the move in 2016.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the lines between design and UX continue to blur with new advances in browser technology, making the once slow and tedious now fast and fluid. Still, at the end of the day, users are coming to your site to experience your brand and accomplish a particular goal. Users are more acutely aware now of when something on a website isn’t working for them and they do not hesitate to move on. The marriage of function and design as technology progresses will often be the hottest trend to embrace.