Like all things in the virtual world and online living things seem to move at the speed of light, and website designers are no exception. From the necessity of responsive design to the rebirth of parallax scrolling, tweaks to make video more compelling to the altering of simple color palettes, the best designers in the industry thrive on enhancing not only the visual appeal of a site but the overall user experience as well.
So what’s next for the ever-changing world of website design? Whether you’re a business owner or just a simple daily blogger, here are some important trends gathered from some of the leading designers in the biz. Be on the lookout for them, and if possible consider incorporating them into your virtual appeal and persona if they aren’t already there.
- Effective user interface (UI) patterns will still be critical to quality website design. From account registration platforms to social media sign ups to payment forms, it’s vital that users are encouraged to flow through the various processes quickly and easily. Also, other elements of UI will remain important and front-and-center; for example, long scrolls are great to use as most everyone now accesses sites on a mobile device and designers can easily break the scroll into clear sections to make navigation seamless. And lastly more designers are putting greater emphases on hi-definition images, which have been proven to effectively grab a visitor’s attention and encourage further exploration.
- One concept many web designers currently agree on is that animation is making a comeback in a big way. An ideal path to enhancing a site’s storytelling capabilities, animation makes the user’s experience infinitely more entertaining while the interactive element encourages longer and repeated visits. However, many designers caution, it’s important to understand the difference between the large-scale and small-scale versions of the tool: the former includes the aforementioned parallax scrolling as well as unobtrusive pop-ups; the latter includes hover tools and loading bars and doesn’t require interaction from the user. It’s also important to be sure you’re using the appropriate kind of animation: there are those that appear during loading, those used for navigation and drop-down menus, those important for galleries and slideshows and those put in merely to draw the user’s attention to motion. A good designer will consider the overall theme of a site and then choose appropriate animation elements that don’t overburden the pages or cause confusion by overloading the visual experience.
- A newer concept to website design is the idea of microinteractions, those quick and nearly thoughtless acts we do multiple times day such as “like” something on Facebook. Microinteractions help the user almost unconsciously take an action, see the result of a specific action taken etc. As designer Jerry Cao puts it, microinteractions “lead users to a path of more human-centered design. This concept of making devices more human-like in their moments is a key to adoption and usability.”
- Material design versus flat design? This is an argument that continues to rage within the web design industry. Material design relies on shadow effects and movement to create pages that appear more real to the user, whereas flat design leans on long shadows for more depth, vibrant color schemes, straightforward (and some say boring) typography and links that change when a user hovers over them. For now it seems that material design is winning the race: it’s more effective in that it helps set a site apart from the crowd and is more attention-grabbing overall. However, flat design still holds an important place: most websites just don’t need to be wholly unique to be effective, and sometimes simple is just better. Really, whether you’re a designer or the client of a designer, it’s important to consider what the end-goal of your website is and then decide whether material or flat design is appropriate.