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hottest trends that will shape web design come 2016
Hottest Trends That Will Shape Web Design Come 2016
  • Trends in web design, like fashion trends, come and go. Sometimes trends are dictated by necessity (like responsive design). Other trends are industry shifts, such as the change from skeuomorphism to flat design.
  • It’s tough to predict which exact trends will draw the greatest attention. Yet recent history shows a pattern of trends that have been growing like wildfire. We’ve organized some unique trends that have gained traction over 2015 and will likely continue well into 2016.
  • As time inches forward with each passing year, many new design trends loom on the horizon. The field of web design is always changing with new tools, workflows, and best practices for constructing usable layouts
  • These 15 trends — 14 for this year, plus 1 for the future — respond directly to the evolving ways we move through the web.
“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”
  • Well-designed microinteractions can be defining because, despite their simplicity, they’re often very powerful.
  • Pinning an inspirational photo, liking a witty status, and retweeting a powerful message have become so common we don’t even need to name the websites that birthed them.
  • When done right, microinteractions offer an intuitive way to interact with a website. When done wrong, they can cause frustration through unexpected functionality — or downright quirkiness.

As we designers streamline our web experiences, we’ll see — and create — more microinteractions to help us simplify the actions we need to take.

reliance on images over text
Reliance on images over text
  • Solid copy strengthens any website, but if it can be said with a photo, animation, or short video, it might be a really good idea to do so.
  • In general, text works best for removing the ambiguity that visual methods of communication are prone to.
  • If you want to design and publish in an accessible way that prioritizes every user’s experience, you’ll want to pair visual and written content. That way, everyone can experience your content in the best way for them.
“Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”
designing with real data
Designing with real data
  • Like the appliances in a model home, mockups are about as functional as a cardboard television.
  • Designing with real data gives us a deeper understanding of how a page will function. In part because it surfaces all the “problems” designers strive to avoid in their mockups, such as long headlines, low-quality images, etc.
  • Designing with real content gives both writers and designers better insight into what they need to do.
  • With the multitude of screen sizes out there, the term “above the fold” has lost significance.
  • Eye-catching transitions and differentiated section designs transform what could be a monotonous trudge into a delightful process of discovery.
  • Long scrolling changes UX design, opening the door for more narrative approaches and simpler interaction models.
“It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.”
conversational bot websites and apps
Conversational/bot websites and apps
  • Nobody wants to navigate a complex series of menus to get something done. Conversation makes for a much easier experience.
  • Apps and other web services are using this more natural approach to make ordering goods, getting financial advice, or booking a hotel room as easy as sending a few text messages.
  • Plus, various tools have popped up to help non-coders make their own bots, so we’re likely to see tons more of these over the coming years.
  • After all, in most cases, there’s already a well-built design wrapping the conversational experience. That means the words themselves become the core UI.
the death of the hamburger menu
The death of the hamburger menu
  • Hamburger menus are polarizing. Much like election-year politics, we don’t recommend discussing them after a few drinks in mixed company. Especially if said company includes UX designers.
  • But from a usability standpoint, hamburger menus have their problems. Few people even recognize the icon. And even those who do recognize it don’t know what to expect when the menu opens, given all the ways that interaction can unfold.
  • Finally, they also conceal a site’s breadth, thereby voiding individual page’s context and place within the larger whole.
  • With navigation visible on-screen, people can easily get the lay of the land and see their options. Without it, that big-picture orientation gets much harder.
“Never fall in love with an idea. They’re whores. If the one you’re with isn’t doing the job, there’s always, always, always another.”
desktop push notifications
Desktop push notifications
  • We’ve all experienced the power of push notifications. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, it’s so hard to ignore that little ding or buzz. So hard to not whip out your phone and engage with whoever’s pinging you.
  • many websites are trying to bring that power to the desktop. If you haven’t seen it yet, this usually manifests as a little modal-like element sliding down from the top of the browser, asking you if the site can send you desktop notifications, a la Slack.
  • It makes perfect sense: after all, here you are on the site, ready to engage with it. Why hope you’ll sign up for the newsletter and then hope you’ll actually open it, when they can just hit you up right here and now?
  • Perhaps the next year will see this technique refined to be more effective and helpful.
“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
product explainer videos
Product explainer videos
  • Clocking in at around 90 seconds, product explainer videos offer a quick, concise way to tout the virtues of a given product.
  • With informative voiceovers and clever animations, product explainer videos can work for any-sized company in letting people know just why their products are great.
  • One thing brands will have to keep in mind when using such videos is their inaccessibility to some audiences if captions aren’t included.
  • Plus, many people simply refuse to watch videos on marketing sites, so you don’t want to lean on videos to explain everything.
“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”
  • Duotone images are created by “printing” a grayscale image with a second, non-black color. The technique has its origins in printing and fits well within a minimalist web design aesthetic.
  • Duotone images make great hero backgrounds because they add some life without unduly distracting from the content, or creating legibility issues.
  • A simple duotone color scheme can also be a great way to create a clean, consistent-looking page — particularly when you’re trying to present several very-different images in the same place (such as logos or team member headshots).  
“The life of a designer is a life of fight. Fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design.”
  • Yes, you can find tons of well-designed stock visuals to use in your designs. But to really set yourself apart, you need to create something unique.
  • Having someone create visuals and iconography customizes your website and projects your personality. Plus, it shows that you really put time and care into this design.
  • Stock graphics are one of the hallmarks of the boring homogeneity many people perceive in the web design world.
  • Creating custom visuals that speak directly with and to your content offers one way out of the fast food design trap. Here’s hoping we see much, much more of this.
stylized typography
Stylized typography
  • A minimalist design approach leaves room for more artistic uses of type. Extremes in sizing, custom typefaces, traditional fonts used in unconventional ways, and highly stylized lettering can all have a huge impact.
  • Combining font sizes can have a huge impact on the look and organization of a page. Single words can take up an entire page.
  • Using vastly different sized fonts creates hierarchy, which in turn supports people in their efforts to understand a website and find the content they want.
  • It can be overkill to fill a page with flourish-rich fonts, but when used tastefully, this kind of typography can create a strong mood and bring life to a page.
  • While custom fonts help create a dramatically more diverse and beautiful web, they can also negatively impact performance. Let’s just be thankful that today’s system fonts are a far cry from Arial and Helvetica.
“Never fall in love with an idea. They’re whores. If the one you’re with isn’t doing the job, there’s always, always, always another.”
vibrant color schemes
Vibrant color schemes
  • As flat and minimalist design have gained popularity, bright colors have been on the rise too.
  • As noted by sitepoint.com, these more vibrant color schemes aren’t limited to just web design, but can be found in fashion design, weathercast graphics, and interior design.
  • Card or container layouts have become more popular and using vibrant colors in these blocks creates a bold layout.
  • Bright colors also help UI elements like buttons and navigation jump out from a page. Finally, bright palettes can have a strong brand affect — you can’t really think of Huge without thinking “bright pink,” or Google without “primary colors.”
direct chat with support
Direct chat with support
  • Chatting with customers and responding to their questions helps personalize a company's web presence.
  • Chat thus becomes an effective tool in helping customers solve their problems. For those who aren’t comfortable with computers, a representative can now help them remotely by cobrowsing or screen-sharing.
  • And it removes the need to find and then browse through dense technical documentation, reducing friction.
  • Direct chat can also help convert new users in a highly contextual way. After all, if you’re working to solve a particular problem and suddenly get a message that helps you overcome exactly that problem, your belief in a product will skyrocket.
full screen sign up modals
Full-screen sign up “modals”
  • Instead of interrupting you right when you thought tip #3 was getting really good, these full-screen “modals” push the content down, filling your whole screen.
  • With email marketing being such a huge deal, getting interested customers to sign up is more important than ever.
  • And while they might not present a perfect-world solution where blogs just let us sign up if we want to, at least they’re a bit less annoying.
looking to the future virtual reality for the web
Looking to the future: virtual reality for the web
  • It may be in only its earliest stages of development, but virtual reality web browsing will one day be a ... uh ... reality.
  • Mozilla’s WebVR team envisions a virtual reality web where every site can present people with an immersive, 3D reality utterly different from the web we’ve grown used to.
  • That said, there’s no better time to think about the future than right now.


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