At the start of the New Year, design blogs everywhere publish their insights for upcoming trends. A month and a half into 2015, there is a lot of content out there; here is a list of the five ideas that have risen to the top.
Side note before delving in: all of the following trends assume responsive design practices are being followed. Given that Pew Research Center has determined that 34% of cell users primarily use their phone to go online, it is essential to design for this growing population’s viewing preference and behavior. To learn more about responsive design, take a look at these awesome illustrations.
Drum Roll Please: The 5 Design trends to follow this Year
1. Longer Scrolling Sites
As more and more users go mobile, scrolling has become best practice for usability. Viewers love to scroll, as proven by the study Everybody Scrolls published at the end of 2014. It is more intuitive action than clicking, especially when you have to consider fast load times.
Besides it’s benefit as a usability feature, it proves to be an aesthetically pleasing way to showcase a variety of content, not just homepages. Longer scrolling pages can be used effectively to showcase products, timelines, and about pages, just to name a few.
The Next Web ranks this as their number one trend on the rise from 2014 that will continue this year. Be on the lookout as you browse the web for innovative uses of scrolling too, like horizontal scrolling or scrolling through different vantage points of premium products.
2. Large UI elements: huge, unobstructed background images, blocks of color, and typography
Simplicity and flat design have been around for a while, but now “make it big” appears to be the most important principle for today’s web, at least according to Sitepoint, an online resource focused on the Internet of Things. As visual creatures, we appreciate and gravitate towards larger elements of color that catch our eye. Following Sitepoint’s article, this trend evolved from movies and catalogue covers to provide the maximal visual impact.
Generally these large images are left wholly unobstructed so that they can be seen clearly. Functional elements are often minimized, like in the case of hidden navigation that is revealed by clicking on the navicon toggle or ghost buttons, outlined rectangles that indicate a clickable field, which put all the emphasis on the visual itself.
Having large images is a trend that has carried over from 2014, with the new twist of substituting the image with a large block of color. This image-free trend was featured Designmodo.
As large elements rule, typography is no exception. Awwwards explains that as fonts have become easier to find, and often are offered for free, more emphasis has been placed on them. A pronounced difference in font size on a page creates a clear visual hierarchy in titles and text, making pages more scan-able and digestible, a plus for the mobile user on the go.
3. Tile based design
Tile, or card based web design, like Pinterest and Google Now, is becoming more prevalent for layout design. Web Design Ledger explains that cards are gaining popularity because they can provide a lot of information quickly in a condensed, responsive format.
From the designers’ perspective, tiles make it easy to fit a variety of related content on one screen that also invites functionality–they tempt users to click and interact more by either linking to more information, posting to social media, or uploading your own content.
From the user perspective, tiles are visually appealing because they are heavily reliant on images, are intuitive because they hark to physical objects they resemble, and are inherently social as you can easily share the content across social media platforms.
4. Multimedia Storytelling
Creating a multimedia experience has always been part of the conversation but in 2015 you will see more sites including video, parallax and animation to enhance their storytelling, user experience and engagement. The main goal will be to bring all of these elements together to create an immersive storytelling experience for users.
Video is a valuable element as it is able to improve user immersion in the content, create awareness, and help bring in users because it can clearly communicate emotions. Videos bring interviews to life, stage products and create brand awareness. A newer application of video is the use of short, looping videos for above the fold homepage introduction content, often replacing static banner images. This trend is on the rise because of its eye-catching quality. For examples, see the list Insight180 pulled together.
Animation and subtle parallax will help communicate not only the overall purpose of a particular site but also particular UI behavior. Agreeing with Creative Bloq, small, animated elements, transitions, and subtle movement will be more engaging, fun, and pleasantly surprising for users as they discover increased functionality. 99 Designs explains that HTML 5 Canvas will eventually allow websites to have almost any visual event.
As mobile website browsing and mobile app usage becomes more frequent, the navicon has gained traction for all sites, even becoming the go to design element for complicated navigation options. When the navicon is used, it often hides the navigation by putting it off screen to create the cleanest visual aesthetic.
Trends with navigation also follow the “bigger is better” model and designers have started incorporating full screen navigation and super-sized menus. By clicking on a navicon or button, the menu appears, either flying out from the side like in mobile apps, sliding in from the top, or taking up the entire screen.
Web Designer Depot outlines their essential navigation trends for 2015: one, the navicon, two, full screen navigation, and three, super-sized menu.
In sum, the top five trends to pay attention to are: scrolling sits, large UI elements, tile based design, multimedia storytelling, and new uses of navigation. All of the elements and trends above need to be combined to create a great user experience; rarely can any one element stand on its own.
If you want to learn more, take a look at our work. We invite you to reach out to us to see how applying these design trends can improve your website and digital marketing.