Web design is no longer a side or optional skill — it’s something everyone would benefit to get onboard with. It’s hard to overlook the future as a digital one. There are now a whopping 3.74 billion internet users, as of March 2017. Over 5.5 billion Google searches are conducted per day, while more than 2 million blog posts are published across the web each day. There are 330.6 million registered domain names, with over 1.24 billion websites in existence. You likely get the point.
If you’re in web design, you know the ins and outs of the industry, hopefully because you use your skills and experience on a daily basis. If you’re not, well, then you should!
Regardless, trends come and go in the industry as is sure to happen over the coming year, as well. Who could forget parallax scrolling and design, “above the fold” techniques, responsive design — which is now an industry staple — and continuous scrolling? That’s the beauty of this industry, isn’t it? Web design and development is always evolving, always changing, which means there’s always room for us to grow and learn.
For the year ahead, what concepts and trends should you consider? For those who want to further their professional web career, what concepts remain necessary to understand and utilize?
A Closer Look at Web Design for 2018
1. Restructured Typography
For so long, a hidden rule has existed behind the use of typography — you never want to rock the boat too much. When it comes to mixing fonts, choosing unorthodox styles and sprucing up your text, the changes minimized flashy-ness. It remained an unwritten rule for many reasons.
What matters is that it’s changing, and rapidly. Typography in the coming years will restructure to take on a new role, at least when it comes to design and aesthetics. Instead of just being text, it will become more visual. It will become a signature element of a brand or design. This includes a variety of experimental and permanent changes ranging from the spacing and alignment of text to the mixing of font types like Serif and Sans Serif. As designers learn to mix and match visual styles, tools like Fontpair will become invaluable.
Look at the way the text slides onto the screen and captures your eyes on the Design Calendar site. It’s proof text can be as gorgeous as images.
However, while this is an acceptable change, usability and experience remain a major consideration. If altering the aesthetics of a font will hinder performance or readability, then avoid it.
2. Layouts Are Changing
Similar to fonts, layouts or grid-based designs have followed a singular, unspoken pattern. Usually, you include a horizontal menu at the top of the page, with floating social bars and front-and-center content.
Thanks to the adoption of mobile — mobile now garners the most internet traffic of all platforms — this has changed the way we think about layouts and user experience. The smaller resolution and screen sizes used, for example, required a more nuanced approach. Hamburger menus are one element born out of this era, which collapse or expand as the user needs them.
In 2018, expect to see a whole lot more freedom in regards to page layouts, especially concerning sizes and alignment. Visual styles and content will take precedence, and this may alter the perception of a page. Editorial and news based sites push the limits when it comes to displaying total content on a page. Some might even say they adhere to an “organized chaos” approach, but it works because of how we view pages. Web designers will likely cash this in going forward.
3. Animation Breeds Engagement and Interactivity
It’s nothing new for web designers and modern templates to incorporate some form of animation, subtle or otherwise. But there’s been an emphasis on animation across the web, on a large scale. Many sites now implement animation and interactivity elements to keep their audiences focused and engaged.
While animation has largely been used in the past to add visual effects, it’s evolving into something more functional. You never want to structure the foundation of a site on animation, however, because the user experience is easily hindered with malfunctions. Instead, augment or enhance the user’s journey.
We’ll continue to see prominent forms of animation such as parallax scrolling and more advanced forms of it, page transitions, elemental effects and interactions, mouseover and hover scenes and much more.
As with the typography changes, remember to avoid negatively impacting performance by adding visual content. If you add too much, it can cause loading times to balloon, which results in a frustrating experience for your users, and higher bounce rates. Keep it simple, clean, speedy and responsive.
You can see examples of the animation and interactions discussed here on the official site for the Disaster Artist movie.
4. Videos Take the Lead
Humans are visual people, and we love seeing attractive imagery. Videos will begin to take the reins and show up more prominently on a variety of sites. You may have noticed quite a few designs that favor background videos, taking up the entire width of a page, layered behind the content. Expect to see more of this.
5. Sidebars Are Fading
Sidebars have long been functional, and at times they still are, but they’re largely unnecessary. This is especially true on mobile where users are more willing to scroll endlessly down a page. On a phone, this translates to nothing more than a finger swipe.
As minimal design becomes more prominent, you’ll notice sidebars create a lot of clutter. Expect to see sidebars shrink or fade away in most leading design concepts.
Conestoga Log Cabins eliminated clutter on their site by including two options at the top of the page, in line with the slider. You have the option to choose between “residential” or “campground” based cabins. This helps the user quickly find the proper portal, without cluttering up the UI and visual theme.
6. Negative Space Is Good for the Soul, and the Eyes
Minimal design has given rise to the extended use of whitespace, which is nothing more than unused areas of a page. The idea is to put more emphasis on certain titles, text, images or elements while eliminating some of the distracting clutter.
It’s more crucial on chaotic designs or text-heavy pages where the user might need a break or two. Whitespace helps to dice up the monotony of viewing a page. Look at how beautiful the Seedlip Drinks site is, thanks to something as simple as pure, white space.
This trend has been around for some time, but we’ll see it continue over the coming year, and maybe evolve to include more areas. Imagine a header, for instance, that’s mostly whitespace save a few crucial options.
7. Learn and Deploy AMP Content
AMP, or the accelerated mobile pages initiative, is essentially a movement to produce better, higher performing and standardized content for mobile users across the web. Above all else, it favors performance and fast loading times, especially on content heavy and news-based sites.
If you don’t know what it is, take some time to learn, and then deploy an AMP version of your site. Google already rates AMP content higher in mobile search results.
8. Color Experiments
A general theme cropping up everywhere is, “everything goes” when it comes to past design mechanics. This is especially true of colors and themes, which become more vibrant and flashy.
You’ll still want some sense about it. Don’t blind your visitors with color. But a little flash here and there is not bad.
2018 is Brighter Than Ever
The coming year is definitely shaping up as an exciting one for web design and development. One mantra you should get used to is change. Tried and true things are no longer necessary. Typography, colors and even videos are used in more dynamic ways than ever before. Coupled with the fact nearly all devices in the modern world can show incredibly high-definition content in a prompt manner, it’s a no-brainer the industry will see a few changes.