Web design is a constant balancing act of art and science, form and function. Your site must be beautiful and informative, appealing and simplistic.
In service of providing the optimal user experience, website designers are constantly pushing the envelope, trying new aesthetics and exploring new avenues for interactivity and engagement. Web design is influenced and shaped by many factors, from the demands of evolving technologies to fashion and pop culture. As a result, design elements that were once the latest and greatest – such as elaborate animated Flash intros – vanish into obscurity while others ride a groundswell of popularity to become nearly ubiquitous.
Here are eight trends that you’ll see rising to prominence in web design in the coming year:
Once upon a time, best practices of web design focused on driving the user to click from one page to another, delving deeper and deeper into the site, rather than to force them to scroll down the page to find more information. Today, this trend has sharply reversed course.
In an analysis of 25 million internet sessions, Chartbeat found that fewer than 75 percent of all users even see the top of the page. This is because scrolling has become such a deeply ingrained habit for users that they start moving down the page before it even fully finishes loading.
Touch screens and mobile devices are largely responsible for this change in user behavior, as swiping is a much more natural action than clicking on touch-driven devices. Recognizing these shifting preferences, most savvy web designers now develop navigation schemes that allow users to obtain the information they seek by scrolling down the page while putting less emphasis on clicking deeper into the site.
The designers at People magazine did exactly this in the latest incarnation of their site. Now viewers who are hungry for celeb-related news need only scroll down the page to pick up tidbits of gossip with which to delight their friends. Should they want to dig deeper into the stories, they can always click through to read the full article, but the bulk of the content can be absorbed without doing so.
While some web designers deal with click-averse users by adding more scrolling action to their website, others opt for easy-to-click card menus. With a card menu set-up, designers can put all of the information a user wants at their fingertips in an oh-so-easy-to-navigate fashion. These grid-based design offer lots of space for graphics that are sizable enough to pop-out – and remain clickable – even on the smallest of smartphone screens.
The designers of the website KeepEarthquakesWeird.com, wrote a love letter to Portland with their impossible to resist card menu, which features all the things that make Portland great, from A-Z.
In a trend left over from the bygone era of newspapers seeking to capture readership with catchy come-ons “above the fold,” packing the most pertinent information into the top of a web page – the part immediately visible to the user before scrolling down – was once a mandate of many website owners.
Thankfully, this trend is deader than dead. Because scrolling is now so easy, web designers are no longer pressured to front-load their designs, freeing them up to implement more minimalist design aesthetics that are clean and enticing to users.
Visiting the Warsaw Rising Museum’s website is nearly as inspiring as walking through the displays in person, thanks in large part to their abandonment of the restrictions of above-the-fold design.
Visitors to the site are immediately immersed in the museum through the presentation of key themes from the museum itself. It takes a scroll to even clearly make out what the website pertains to. And that’s okay! Because the engaging design is enough to elicit a finger flick.Kimberly Barnes