In the world of web design, 2018 heralds the year of the user.
Finally the time has come for web designers to place user experience firmly at the forefront of their creations, where it belongs.
Designers no longer showcase their talents by adding the most bells, whistles and animations possible. The ingredients for a great looking site have shifted from style, to function; with clean understated pages and straightforward navigation taking precedent. This utilitarian trend is a long time in the making, and is set to continue for the foreseeable future.
Here are ten of the most likely trends you’ll get to see over the year:
1. The end of stock photos
The end is nigh for the humble stock photo.
With companies placing greater emphasis on unified and consistent branding, bland stock photos of ‘office table with papers’ really have no place on your company website anymore. High quality imagery is readily available at our fingertips, and with many companies putting far more thought into crafting a digital presence than they once did, brands have increasingly been seeking out their own, personalised imagery instead.
2. Animation with a purpose
Though we’re certainly not welcoming an era without animation altogether, 2018 will mean a shift away from the classical ‘animation for animation’s sake’ powerpoint-esque movements that have been a dominant feature of web design for years.
The utilitarian design wave will usher in new, handy and consistent animations to guide the user across the page.
Take CI Financial’s latest site as inspiration.
They’ve consciously chosen to use only light animation on the home page, bringing attention to the content rather than the theatrics.
Sticky navigation and a carousel header banner helps guide users to the appropriate part of the page, whilst keeping the menu on screen – making it impossible for the user to get lost.
3. Less wordy menus
2017 welcomed a new wave of websites redesigned with fewer navigation options. With wordier menus doing
nothing but clogging up users’ screens, this is a welcome change.
2018 will usher in even more streamlined choices, which will make it easier for users to find what they are looking for.
4. Say hello to Duo Tones
Duo tones use two simple colours to filter over images, to simplify busy or distracting imagery on sites.
This is a design technique that most of us will recognise from modern sites like Spotify, and acts as a great way to maintain the user’s focus on navigation without their eye being drawn across the page.
This only works with primary colours that are in line with your branding, so try to keep things simple.
5. Material Design
Taking lead from Google’s ‘Material Design’ guidelines, web designers have placed far greater emphasis on unification of CSS design across devices.
This means drawing together bolder headings, meaningful motion and unified layouts across browsers and devices to create a steamlined UX. For more info on Google’s ‘living document’ click here.
6. Parallax be gone
With the parallax trend taking off in the last few years, we’ve seen the tool turn from stylish and helpful, to overused and often unnecessary.
Many sites have used the tool to their advantage, adding depth to the page and drawing attention to images. For a great example of parallax used well take a look at Liberty Shares.
When overused, however, this feature can often slow down pages and therefore harm SEO – a painful price to pay. 2018 should see a decrease in the use of parallax images for this reason, though the trend certainly won’t disappear.
7. Google Fonts
In 2010, Google launched a freely available library of webfonts for designers to take advantage of.
As of 2017, these have been revamped to include even more colours and background colours for you to preview and configure easily. Google also flags Featured fonts that are most suited with Material Design.
Google’s free font ‘Noto’ caters to up to 800 different languages, keeping continuity in design despite editing settings or scripts.
Expect to see even more designers trying Google Fonts this year.
8. No more Hamburger menus
Often, users are in danger of missing this teeny tiny symbol, which can drastically affect the user experience on your mobile site. Though this can look fantastic and neatly tucks away cluttered menu items, it often disguises the amount of information available on the site.
2017 will see a number of designers trying out creative ways to showcase the depth and breadth of their sites, without hiding away any important information.
2017 will see designers treating sites with a Progressive Web App approach, which Google defines as:
“using modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience.”
Native Apps look and feel like apps, and include useful features such as push notifications and work offline modes. Mobile Web Apps accessed in a mobile browser, in contrast, have never managed to do those things.
Aside from the obvious time saving advantage, here are many of PWAs over other modes of app development, and we’re likely to see more and more of these in the next year.
In line with our other predictions for 2018, it looks like Minimalism is the new black.
Fewer bells and whistles per page will mean greater emphasis on speed, performance and seamless UX.
The most modern of sites will be clean, elegant and easy to navigate, with style measured by functionality, not just aesthetic.
So designers – take note! Less is more this year.
Author Rich Watts