In 2015, website designs trend toward a more modern look and feel, and sites for 2016 will continue to evolve in that direction.
This article will examine some of these modern design trends, how they stem from consumer consciousness, and what these trends mean for marketers and website owners.
The Consumer’s Impact on Web Design
Design trends respond to the whims and the tastes of consumers. In 2015, we’ve seen modern web design trends respond to many of the major shifts that are also impacting the marketing industry. In 2016, we’ll expect to see these trends become even more pronounced.
Here are a few of the biggest trends we’ve seen this year:
People want more authenticity.
The proliferation of banner ads, pop-ups, incessant marketing, and pervasive advertising left their mark on the consumer.
Today’s internet user reacts negatively to overt marketing, which is one reason why ad blockers have become so popular. The desire for more authenticity and transparency in brands is the result.
In design, this trend manifests itself most prominently in the images websites use. “Classic” stock photos are out, while the down-to-earth, gritty stock images are in. A new breed of stock photo companies has arisen to meet this demand, such as Death to the Stock Photo and Stocksy.
This trend reflects other movements in the marketing world, such as user-generated content and native ads.
Bigger and simpler is better.
Simplicity is perhaps also a reaction to the overly complex designs that cluttered screens in the early 2000s. Though there are exceptions, many websites have decided to strip out crowded sidebars, headers, and footers.
But removing ads and distracting secondary content is only the first step. Many web designs push the trend to the max, by bringing a single piece of content front and center, to the exclusion of all else.
Maeemo is one good example. Their minimal design is sparse, drawing attention to the powerful imagery and concise copy.
The advantage of this approach is the “wow” effect, which focuses attention on a single image and impression, rather than distracting with too many options.
Mobile rules the web.
Mobile web traffic continues to climb year over year and this growth will only continue. Given the increase in mobile traffic, Google has gone so far as to push mobile-friendly sites higher in mobile searches.
Responsive design is the natural result of the mobilization of the web. Virtually all WordPress themes released today, for example, are mobile-friendly or even designed specifically for mobile. The more complex themes allow you to fine tune which content appears on mobile and which appears on desktop.
Consumers love video.
Video is becoming easier to stream, since bandwidth continues to explode along with the rest of the internet.
In design, this can be seen with the rise of autoplay video backgrounds. Unlike autoplay videos in the sidebar, background videos contribute directly to the site design, rather than interrupting it.
The result is often stunning and captivating, which is exactly what the designers are shooting for. The best designs combine these video backgrounds with interactive elements, allowing the user a sense of control over how the experience plays out.
Modular, mosaic is tentatively moving forward.
Though Window’s Metro didn’t work out, it has still snuck quietly into Windows 10.
The modular, mosaic grid is also tentatively moving forward in the web design world. Wired’s latest design update, for example, makes use of this design trend. In Wired’s case, they have created a sense of balance, proportion, and structure by using and organizing variously sized grid items.
Cookie cutter designs are going meta.
The latest, most advanced WordPress themes are diving deeper into the code to give users a great deal of control over the sites they build.
While there are still many cookie cutter themes and designs out there, many of the most popular ones are extremely robust. WordPress themes such as X and The7 are multipurpose themes that allow very versatile designs.
Rather than packaging a single layout or design, these themes may come with several. And they are often flexible enough to create unique designs from their design components.
Interaction design is taking the forefront.
In 2016 and beyond, expect to see interaction-heavy designs play a prominent role in web design, app design, and even advertising design.
The internet, by its very nature, is interactive. Users can control how and what they wish to view, so it’s up to designers to develop an experience that is valuable and engaging.
With HTML5 and the plethora of other front-end web technologies, it’s now possible to create extremely rich websites and user interfaces. In the coming years, technology will become more complex, and so will interactivity.
While design labels vary, most designers agree that the design focus in 2016 and beyond will revolve around the user experience. To be successful, websites will need to engage users with content, user interfaces, and designs that deliver a top-notch user experience.