Web design trends for 2016

Posted by Deshika Sookoo on 8 February 2016 | Comments


Every year new trends emerge in the world of web design. These transient but hugely influential developments evolve at such a rapid rate that their lifespans could end before summer comes around again. To avoid being left behind, web design agencies have to be quick to adopt innovative technology and practices that their fastest competitors are already taking advantage of.

I chatted with our veteran creative director Ian Greaves to get his predictions for web design trends in the coming year.

Explorer’s death rattle is music to many ears.

The biggest change in our world this year has been Microsoft's announcement that there will be no support for Internet Explorer versions eight to ten. It’s clearly on its way out.

Deshika Sookoo: On a scale from eight to ten, how happy are you about the demise of this troublesome browser?

Ian Greaves: Ten, ecstatic. This will hopefully reduce our time with regards to browser optimisation.

Are plug-ins here to stay?

Browser apps and plug-ins are becoming more and more popular by the day.

DS: Do you expect to see the use of these explode or fizzle out before the year's over?

IG: Browser plugins will always have a place within the desktop community. Whether it takes off on mobile platforms depends on processing power, as plugins put a strain on browser resources. This should change soon.

Are transformers taking over?

Bootstrap has taken off like a rocket when it comes to responsive development.

DS: Have you seen anything else that will be able to keep up with the technology in tablets, phablets, phones and watches?

IG: Frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation are great development tools built on top of HTML5, but as technology changes so will the frameworks we use. Google Polymer & Material design are making great progress in this field and are changing the way sites are being designed and developed.

HTML5 trumps Flash.

For a long time Flash was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but we have moved on since then, incorporating query libraries, HTML5, CSS3 and their latest functions into web design.

DS: What do you think has been the most important development since Flash 2.0?

IG: Initially, Flash was great at creating a more immersive experience for the end user, whether it was through animation, video or sound. It did something the older versions of HTML couldn't do. HTML5 has finally caught up. Whether they're hardcoding or using WYSIWYG’s like Adobe Edge Animate, designers are now able to create intricate animation and ensure a great user experience without the limitations of flash

Can you Photoshop the impossible?

Adobe has made incredible progress since Freehand to keep up with their competitors. Designers have also gradually moved away from designing in Photoshop and Illustrator to designing on the web for the web.

DS: What do you think Adobe will introduce to keep up with the web design trends of today?

IG: I think it's less about what software Adobe brings out and more about whether it can keep up with the competition. We're seeing cloud platforms like Webflow and software like Microsoft Macaw reduce the need for Photoshop in UI/UX projects. They combine design and development into one package seamlessly. Again, Photoshop has had a long history before web designers started using it, so it has an advantage in keeping abreast with developments in the web design industry.  

Where to from here?

Now let's get down to the nitty-gritty that's going to make your site faster, more functional, and responsive.

Menus and web navigations have changed through the years, always evolving and becoming increasingly minimalistic. 2015 brought about the hamburger craze, and everyone's been buying into this idea since then.

DS: Where do we go from here?

IG: Google Material design is changing the way we think about building and interacting with interfaces. It's taking the way we experience simple interactions with buttons and page elements to the next level. It will be interesting to see what Apple and Microsoft come up with next.

To scroll or not to scroll?

These days we tend to scroll nowhere slowly, but what we really want is to see everything at once and take it all in without putting in much effort.

DS: What direction will the majority of 2016 sites be flowing in?

IG: Page scrolling is an integral part of experiencing the web, especially on mobile. Users don't think twice about scrolling when reading books or articles. It's become a natural part of extracting content...the same as turning pages in a book. The importance lies in the journey and the story telling. Good design requires space, and space helps the user consume content in a effortless, less cluttered way.

A good photo could be worth a thousand views.

Companies have long used stock imagery on their sites, but now they realise that many of these appear too staged. Today, they want 'real' photos with 'real' people.

DS: Do you agree with this approach? If so, can you share your views with us?

IG: Definitely agree. Creating a more approachable and authentic tone in your imagery often costs more than clients are prepared to pay. That's where stock plays a roll. Again, by choosing the right stock and looking in the right places, one can avoid the cliched business handshake pics.

Flat is the new phat.

Google, for example, has changed their logo font and texture. No bevels, no bumps, no tails.

DS: Do you think this will set a precedent for future logo and company profiles for 2016?

IG: I can't speak for brand designers on the future of logo design, but from a web design perspective, digital trends change every couple of years. Drop shadows and bevels were in last decade and out this decade. Technology changes the way we design. Higher resolution displays have helped us use lighter fonts and finer page elements. Whatever trend is around the corner, technology will definitely play a part in shaping it.

How important is functionality?

DS: Design has always played a huge part in the development of a website, but has functionality now become more important?

IG: Our role at the end of the day is to create functional products. The responsibility of designers is to meet the needs of the end user – to make the use of the product effortless. Functionality will always affect the way we design a product. There's a reason why Amazon looks different to Mashable or your average corporate website.

In an ever changing industry, designers and developers need to keep abreast of innovations just to stay in the game. If you’d like to know what forward-thinking designers are doing to create exceptional websites, download our Web Design Handbook.

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Author: Deshika Sookoo

Image Credit: iavesw.com



Carl Thomen:

Flat is the new phat.

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