In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular web design trends emerging now. Amongst these examples we can see how designers are pushing the limits of human interaction and changing our understanding of what a modern web site can be.
The Big Screen
A new trend that is appearing is to create a design consisting of a few words overlaid on a large image or video. The navigation may be entirely removed, or hidden as a small icon in a portion of the screen.
There are two styles of this trend, one that is more cinematic in it’s approach inspired by movies, the other based on books and magazine covers.
This technique is both visually appealing and practical allowing the design to work responsively across a range of devices including desktops and mobile phones.
Cards are a design framework for organising large amounts of content on an equal plane. Each card may represent a single action, task or piece of information. The card might itself might consist of multiple elements (eg. headline, text, images etc) however the card itself focuses one just one action or outcome.
Made popular by sites like Pinterest, card based design has become an ideal solution due to it’s compatibility with responsive frameworks. The rectangular shape and digesting of information into small self contained chunks compliments the mobile viewing experience perfectly.
Card design bridges a much needed gap between mobile and desktop devices, providing consistent experience in interaction and usability regardless of the device.
Although not a recent design trend, flat design is now appearing to mature as a design standard. Whilst not appropriate for all types of web development flat design is likely to remain a permanent staple for interface design, particularly for smaller elements such as icons, menus and illustrations.
Flat design creates a visually cleaner, less cluttered look to web design and creates design elements more easily scalable and manageable thanks to SVG graphics and icon font technology.
It’s important to remember flat design doesn’t always have to be flat, the underlying principles behind the design process are always changing. Designers now incorporate subtle gradients, textures and photos to achieve more interesting effects.
Break Out Of The Box
Boxes or rectangles are the underpinning of most web site design. The markup languages of the web, HTML and CSS, are built around a box model concept where all the elements are bound within a rectangle.
A trend that is emerging amongst designers is to break out of traditional rectangular layout used within most sites and opt for other shapes such as circles, hexagons and more irregular shapes like rhombuses. Skewed horizon and website layout previews in axonometric view also help to bring the feeling of space and movement.
Navigation is a core component to any web site’s usability and many designers shy away from changing the standard design principles that people have been accustomed to over the years. However experimentation has returned and edgier styles of navigation are starting to appear.
Sticky menus are a menu system that is constantly fixed to the top or edge of the screen while the visitor scrolls. This is becoming an extremely popular option for one-page web sites. Many online manuals, or other sites with long hierarchical menus, will favour the use of sticky menus as it makes it easier for visitors to review the information.
Although not a popular trend, street view style navigation or axonometric “fly over” views are inspired by Google Maps and 3D gaming platforms. With this style of navigation the visitor moves through a simulated 3D space with different menu items from the navigation bar being presented to them as they scroll the mouse.
As a design trend minimalism has been around for a number of decades and has influenced wide range of disciplines including magazines, furniture and architecture. The core tenant behind minimalism is to strip out or simplify the design back it’s most basic form.
Minimal designs favour less content, form and colour whilst adding interest through big photos or images, and copy that is set in large type. The advantage behind this design style is that creates less visual clutter and allows the visitor to focus on the content and respond more promptly to any call to action.