The world of web design is ever changing. While we’re not yet gazing out at a virtual reality landscape, front-end designers are continuing to develop the functionality and feel of the web for the technology out there, keeping designs fresh and optimizing for UX.
Here are five of the major trends that are driving website design today.
Designing for Mobile First
Mobile now accounts for over half of all online traffic, so it’s only natural that the focus of web design has moved.
Indeed, even if you do incorporate a responsive design, it’s likely to be more important for you to prioritize the appearance and functionality of your site on mobile than on desktop.
That doesn’t just mean ensuring that the layout works on a smartphone screen but extends to the specific concerns of mobile users – does the site load quickly? Is the site properly navigable on a smaller screen? And is it easy to access and share content? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then you’re likely to be missing out.
And favoring mobile isn’t optional anymore, either – Google will penalize your search rankings if you’re not making mobile work. Fortunately, they have a tool that tells you how you’re doing, which you can access here.
Incorporating a Narrative to the Customer’s Journey on your Site
Autoplaying video might once have been controversial – that was, until Facebook made it the default.
Today’s internet users are comfortable with multimedia formats, incorporating text, video, GIFs and interactive UI elements into the flow of the page. And while carousel widgets might be confusing from a UX perspective, GIFs are eye-catching, highly engaging and generally light on the page-load time.
Furthermore, businesses and publishers are using this multimedia toolset to communicate complex stories, whether describing a product vision or delivering a news feature via multiple, immersive media formats – check out National Geographic’s story on Yellowstone National Park’s bears for a perfect example.
In the world of mobile first, legible text means big typography.
More and more sites are leading with big, bold, straightforward introductions and headlines that lead clean, minimal pages – as creative design studio Femme Fatale demonstrates.
Instead of giving users a multitude of options to pick from, website designers are identifying what they want users to do and giving them the easiest path to achieve that. Whether that means presenting smooth, engaging articles or directing customers to a point of purchase.
We’re now not only over skeuomorphism but we’re moving past the era of monotone flat design – and color gradients are back on trend.
However, the modern use of gradients is actually an evolution of flat design, seeing colors shift within duotone layouts and adding visual depth to single-color designs.
Whether moving out from the centre or from one corner to another, gradients can also be extremely effective in highlighting features and points on the page.
By using parallax scrolling – where a background image scrolls at a slower speed than the foreground – designers can create a powerful 3D effect.
While it’s a simple trick, it’s surprisingly effective, whether you want to give an impression of a window into the world or simply make foreground items pop. It’s also appearing all over the place and, while it can be an annoyance if overused, can verge on the sublime when applied in moderation.
For example, the website for the game Firewatch, illustrates the sheer potential of parallax scrolling, placing multiple background layers over one another to simulate a fully 3D landscape as the user scrolls down the page, moving from a high vantage point to ground level. Beautiful.
There’s a revolution taking place in how we consume and engage with media, and the pace is only accelerating.
The crucial point to consider when developing your site, though, is what you want your users to achieve and what they want to do when they get there. Audiences today have a low tolerance for poor UX, so it’s critical that your site is easy-to-use and that your users are directed to where they want to go.
You can take advantages of these winning trends to ensure that your pages are attractive and highly engaging – and that they do exactly what you want them to. If you interested in updating your website design, please contact us here.