This guest column is authored by John Stone, SEO Consultant at Nirmal Web Design
1. Increase in use of responsive design
Although the responsive design has been around for some time now, experts predict that both small and big brands and businesses will focus on making their online presence responsive. This is due to two main reasons, one of them being the cost-efficiency of building a single website capable of successfully delivering content to matter what device is being used to view said content. The second reason has to do with Google’s update to their ranking algorithm, which now raises the ranking of websites that optimize their content for mobile devices, i.e. have a responsive design.
2. Businesses adopting the mobile-first design
As the name implies, mobile-first approach describes a process of designing the website for mobile devices first and then focusing on the larger screened devices. Like the responsive design, this isn’t anything new, however, mobile devices have become the primary tools used for browsing the internet. With small screen real-estate comes the need of reorganizing the content and removing all the information which might otherwise be displayed on a bigger screen, but is deemed unnecessary on mobile. This forces the major brands and businesses to reconsider what the core content is and how will they convey their message to the average user.
3. Frameworks and UI patterns
The advent of responsive and mobile-first design has shaped the way today’s websites look and operate. Pre-designed WordPress themes have become the norm, as more and more websites use them, which has unfortunately led to most of them have the same look and feel. That said, the consistent use of UI and UX patterns has led to a more unified and consistent user experience across all platforms. Keeping users happy by utilizing similar material design frameworks will most certainly become the stepping stone for all future web design practices.
4. Cards and grid UIs
One of the biggest trends in web design that has arisen from the material design guidelines is the use of card-based UIs. Tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest have popularized the use of cards, as they allow for the content to be broken down into smaller, easily digestible chunks which are easier to navigate through for the users. The cards play really well into responsive design and work well on both mobile, tablet and desktop. With the attention span of the average user becoming shorter and shorter, having large amounts of content organized in manageable and searchable in the way of grids and cards will become a go-to practice for both large and small businesses.
5. Even more parallax scrolling
Once used to simply navigate from the top of the page to the bottom, scrolling is now being used by web designers as a creative way of displaying and sifting through the content. It’s a technique where the mechanic of scrolling gives off a 3d sense, with the background and the foreground moving at different speeds. When used well, it works excellent with all the different varieties of delivering content, whether it’s text, images or video. However, most single-page websites tend to overuse it and in turn, make the site’s usability worse.
6. Advance in animation
Brands and companies are moving away from using static images on their websites and turning to animation as a way to both engage their users and add new levels of usability to their pages. This wouldn’t be possible without the advances in CSS3, HTML5, and jQuery, and more and more designers are turning to them in order to present the user with the most interesting and engaging content. They range from small distractions while the page is loading to hover animations, navigation cues and full-screen visuals which are either the focus of the website or can later be integrated into parallax scrolling.
7. Bold colors everywhere
The past few years have seen the rise of over-saturated rich-colored websites with vibrant hues and mesmerizing gradients. This is partly due to advances in screen technologies now being able to reproduce more colors than ever before, but also to the fact that big brands are trying to move away from what was considered safe and go for a new and more exciting approach. The best example for that is the Instagram’s logo change, which once had a flat, neutral design, and now it’s a lot more vibrant and colorful. It’s a safe bet to assume that more and more brands will move towards using vivid and rich color palettes both online and in traditional mediums.
8. Video as the content of choice
Nothing grabs the attention of the user as quickly as a good video narrative does. Unlike text, it requires little to no conscious effort to consume it, which is why all the big brands are starting to use it more and more as a content delivery method. Used for marketing practices, storytelling, and product placement, video is becoming the majority of internet traffic, due to advances in video chatting, live-streaming and its overall adoption by the social media giants. To say that video will dominate the internet as the content of choice is simply an understatement.
9. Fewer stock images and more originality
Using similar WordPress themes and UI patterns has led to the majority of websites basically looking and working in strikingly similar ways. Using stock images and videos on top of that can only add more similarity where almost everything looks the same. Standing out from the competition has become more important than ever, which is why it’s safe to assume that brands will work towards authenticity in order to attract new customers. This means that we’ll start to see a more diverse and unique way businesses produce and present their content.