Like Them or Not: 7 Web Design Trends Here to Stay

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:: By Larry Alton, @LarryAlton3 ::

As always, the world of Web design is moving quickly, and as always, it’s in your best interest to stay ahead of the curve. An increase in mobile technology usage, the emergence of VR systems, new features in common social apps and different user expectations in website offerings are just a handful of trends and news topics inspiring the development of these Web design crazes.

Whether you’re well-versed in their origin points or completely disinterested in the volatile shifts of the tech world, user expectations for your site are going to grow regardless. Keep watch for these major Web design trends as we move further into 2016 (and beyond), and consider updating your site to keep in line with them:

1. The Confluence of Design.

Despite having even more design options and greater technological flexibility, most Web designs are starting to mimic each other. Think about it in your own experience—how many times have you seen a homepage with big, bold, yet simple white text on a darkened or blurred-out background? It’s ridiculously common. Is it because people prefer to copy old ideas rather than come up with new ones? Is it because it’s simply the most effective design from a marketing perspective? The answer to both questions is probably yes. Either way, you’ll face a difficult decision to either run with the crowd in the established grooves of Web design or go it alone in some bold, new direction—each decision has its merits.

2. Long Scrolls.

Thanks to the ease of scrolling on mobile devices (and the difficulty of displaying lots of content at once), long scrolls have cemented their position as a necessary Web design feature. In 2016, this feature is going to become even more popular and even more important. Most sites centered on content should have an infinite scroll layout, allowing users to scroll down as far as they want rather than clicking on new pages. Even non-content oriented sites can stand to benefit from stacking as much material as possible in a single, scrolling page.

3. Increasing Minimalism.

Minimalism has been a dominant theme in design for the past several years, but especially on the Web. Phrases are getting shorter, navigations are getting narrower, pages are getting smaller in number, and images are getting less obtrusive and more suggestive. In 2016, this trend is only going to increase—images and colors are going to become even more basic, words will become simpler, and interactive elements on sites will be reduced to their smallest, least obstructive state.

4. Saturated and Bright Colors.

Saturated and bright, neon colors have emerged as a growing trend. For example, take Spotify’s simple yet impactful logo change earlier this year. All they did was take the shade of green closer to a bright, neon color, falling in line with the increasing saturation in other popular products, like Apple’s iOS. I’m also seeing lots of saturated colors in onsite images of publications and major brands, so I expect to see more of these in websites well into next year as well.

5. Friendlier Loading Options.

Nobody likes waiting for a page to load. Page loading times can negatively affect your search rank in Google and force people away from your site (if it takes more than a few seconds). Forcing users to sit idly as they watch a loading icon spin is rubbing salt in the wound. Starting in 2016, you’ll need a much friendlier loading option, especially if any of your content takes more than a second or two to load. Pre-loading certain content, reducing site loading times overall, and coming up with more innovative loading icons or screens.

6. Tab Menus (Instead of Hamburgers).

The traditional “hamburger” menu often found in mobile sites and apps is all but dead. Hiding the core pages behind a simple and recognizable icon seemed like a good idea at the time, but too many webmasters have found that pages buried in a hamburger menu never get seen or clicked. Instead, more Web masters are opting for a tab-style menu (like Twitter's app), which strongly displays the options available and encourages further exploration and interaction with the site.

7. Less Dependence on Clicks.

Clicks used to be the ruling force in the world of Web design. Getting a user to click on one of your elements was akin to securing a real interaction, meaning your site was effective in this specific instance. As a result, many websites were developed around the idea of getting more clicks by any means necessary. However, since clicking is harder and less common on mobile devices these days, clicks are less important. Instead, Web designs will focus on emphasizing user gestures and actions not relegated to a mere click, such as scrolling past a particular point, playing a video, or otherwise interacting in a specific way.

It’s difficult to imagine that the website fashions of 2015 will be obsolete as early as next year, but consumer tastes and new technologies seem to cycle out more rapidly with each passing year. Early next year, run a complete audit of your current Web design and compare it to some of the trends you think are most important to address. If you find you’re behind on more than one, it’s time to update your site with a facelift and keep yourself ahead of the competition.

Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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03-17-2016 2:16 PM

Great article! What's a hamburger menu?

DanB 03-17-2016 2:24 PM

Hamburger menu is on most mobile friendly sites like mine at veritaswebsites. It's the three lines you tap to open a larger menu.

RobertG 03-17-2016 2:34 PM

I have taken a temporary aside from web development.But I will return soon.  Will applying much the same look and feel no matter what the technology result in successful websites?  Most likely.  But could many of these websites be more successful?   Also most likely.  The best websites are designed around the "content".  Content!  Content cannot be arbitrarily shoehorned into a subset or design templates, no matter how successful these templates were when first created.  Also, the developers can be reduced to template selection.  A debasement of both design and development.  Web platforms will evolve and eventually become tied to certain design patterns.  Developers and Designers will need to stay ahead of the curve in their selected platforms or become extinct (find something else to do).  Hmm.  Enough for now.

StephenT 03-17-2016 2:58 PM

I agree, great article.It's good to keep on top of the latest trends but it's also good to add some original touches to your sites to help them stand out.

JR 03-17-2016 3:08 PM

Useless information

CareyD 03-17-2016 5:50 PM

Many opinions, many contradictions, action of the visitor/user is the reality.  Strong server side interaction at appropriate speeds seems to be much better than the basic Java Script routines everyone seems so fond to embed.

GeorgeD 03-17-2016 6:35 PM

Helpful information as I am completely overhauling our main website.

Web DesignC 03-18-2016 7:21 AM

Great info !! thanks for the great insite

10545216 03-20-2016 12:12 PM

I completely disagree with the endless scroll design. It drives people crazy. Also, the "new" type of design where every web site is a mirror of another one just with the different content is a wrong-wrong-wrong. The companies lose their recognized face on the web because they read the articles like that and think: we have to modify our web site! The minimalist approach of one-size fits all (desktop and mobile) kills the uniqueness of the web sites and makes them similar to each other because most of the companies do not want to design separately for desktop and for the mobile in order to save money and time. While the content is OK on the mobile, on the desktop it looks too plain, colorless, and the same as any other web site.

Do you want the example? Take the site. It used to be a unique web site with good navigation system and very user-friendly interface. Now, it is not recognizable, boring, with a bunch of plug-ins to fill the empty space. Ugly!

KevinF 05-10-2016 10:16 AM

Interesting info, I would add the following to your list.

• tools like a FontAwesome library, where things become commonly recognized for what they are/do (semantically speaking). The ability to just resize/recolor - and repurpose - an icon, and then move on with life is 'awesome'. Industry standards like this provide consistency and prevents recreating the wheel, allows for streamlined, rapid development, etc.

• The continued use of a Grid-based system, whichever one a team goes with. Mobile first approach with common breakpoints makes content easily available on numerous devices (non-device specific), each can have their own look and feel, while content remains consistent.

• Components-based development for dynamic, reusable, scaleable, 'state-ive' (not state-less) content.

• More in-depth usage of HTML5 elements, attributes, and where necessary, aria (accessible, rich internet app) attributes for true, semantic markup. They've been around for almost a decade, so should start taking advantage of what they can offer.

• Less reliance on pixel-perfect design implementation. More peer conversation-guided design (collaborative).

• More focus on Agile-type methodologies to harness a project and keep it on track.

• Maybe...just maybe, one day, way off in the future, there will be a decent IE developer tool, that we can use? I know, that's a lot to ask! :)

1.4 lite 06-07-2016 3:42 AM

web designing is changing and it will change in future too

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