8 Web Design Trends for 2016

December 7, 2015


With this year now so close to wrapping up, we’re starting to turn our attention to looking ahead into 2016. Here are the trends in Web Design over 2015 that will help you stay in the know when honing in on client needs and stay ahead of the curve when planning the next website with your team.

1. Unique experiences
This one is nothing new, but it’s becoming more important now that websites have developed a more standard look and feel. From user interfaces to iconography, most pretty websites look fairly similar and include many of the design elements expected from users. The boundaries of design and usability are more clearly defined than in the past, meaning we can more confidently push those boundaries in our own concepts.

2. Authentic Imagery versus stock photos
No more traditional stock photography! An eye tracking study by Nielson Norman Group concluded that “users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information but ignore fluffy pictures used to ‘jazz up’ web pages.” Based on this, images specific to your project or brand are best, but if they’re hard to come by, using more natural and genuine photography (even sparsely) is more effective than loading up with stock photos.

3. Hamburger menu
Oh, the hamburger menu. It’s the cause of many debates online about whether it’s placing too low a priority on navigation content. Out of sight, out of mind. But it exists because it’s a necessary point of evolution with the explosion of mobile users – traditional navigation design just doesn’t work as effectively on small screens. But a big problem with hamburger menus is that far too many users simple just don’t know what it is. This site ran a test showing how labelling the hamburger with ‘Menu’ increased engagement by 61%.

4. Video Background or Single Hero Image
Full screen imagery is so in, the carousel is out. Image carousels are rarely clicked on and often passed over, and we know that it’s not necessary to cram all of the information in ‘above the fold’.

5. Mobile First
Earlier this year, Google announced that websites that are mobile-friendly will rank higher in web searches. Another reason why creating a responsive, mobile friendly site is so important.

6. Lazy Loading
On sites like Pinterest and Facebook, the content will continue to load as the user scrolls down the page. Also called continuous scroll, or infinite scrolling.

7. Semi-flat design
Web design 10 years ago aspired to skeumorphism, or the concept of making items resemble their real-world counterparts. A few years ago the Flat trend took off as a rebellion against the previous. After the dust settled, Semi Flat, or Almost-Flat design emerged, marrying the two concepts together to create a compromise that has become the standard of the digital world. Google’s Material Design thinks through how users interact with digital interfaces, using shadowing to create physicality while retaining the magic via lack of real world limitations available through technology.

8. Performance
The web buzzword for 2015 at Fast Horse is performance. Good developers have always had this principle in mind, but now it’s moving into the spotlight as a core requirement of great websites. Glitchy, slow-loading sites are awful, and that’s because they weren’t created with performance in mind. How fast does it load? Are the images optimized? Is it responsive, if so, how well were each of the breakpoints thought through? Is it accessible for people with visual impairment? Does it work if internet connection is less than ideal?