Web design develops equally upon two parts: innovation and imitation.
In other words, we all like to catch upon the latest and greatest trends and techniques, use them until they are everywhere, and start looking for the next big thing. The first part of the year is the perfect time to start searching for such addendums, so let’s explore the techniques that will make a big splash in the latter half of this decade.
Based on the discussions that will happen with the design team at UXPin, here are some trends that we think will define 2016.
One really predictable complaint about the web design world is the manner by which frequently it participates in, might we say, not as much as original practices.
The tendency of WordPress templates, responsive frameworks, and the desire to achieve a certain look whether it is corporate, portfolio, personal or any other, has led to a large degree of equality in design.
As mentioned in the e-book Web Design Trends 2016, this can only last so long.
Websites don’t have to fit into a form. Certainly there will be clients who will want their websites to match others in the same industry. But there are always calls for a “fresh” take, or something which “feels different”. Of course, many of these requests are only for superficial differences. However, as the web design industry matures and grows, it is only natural that it should diversify in earnest.
This not at all means that you need to start putting together abstract and unfamiliar designs for the sake of novelty. Rather, you should feel free to push boundaries to see what can be different while remaining effective and considering the user experience. Never sacrifice usability for animations and other things.
One space where this trend is taking off is in theatrical presentations.
The website for a documentary called Sons of Gallipoli, for instance it is extremely unique in navigation and presentations.
Video controls show progress in a semi-transparent overlay while the documentary is still playing.
Unique layouts, grids on demand, CSS3 animations, wider font availability and a number of other factors that makes a greater degree of variety which is possible now than ever before. However, you will notice that it doesn’t forsake usability. The site is still highly navigable.
In 2016, designers will begin to stretch their legs and take chances with traditionally winning formats, just to see what other avenues are available and indeed, desirable to the masses.
Diversity will rear its head in 2016 with the incorporation of handmade artwork on websites. Whereas stock photography and high quality images have held a lot of sway in the past, more sites will rely on hand drawn art than graphics for their visual appeal in 2016.
Unique hand drawn websites offer a stunning depth of originality and warmth that simply can’t be matched by flat designs, which seem impotent in comparison. Also they had added an element of distinction to a design. Soon websites and their brands will be associated with the artwork style that it contains.
For an instance, note how the FleaHex website’s art style simulates the design company that created it. Imagine a world where Picasso’s blue period is played out on a digital space for all to see and appreciate. Integrating handmade artwork in your web designs can become something of a calling card for the designer or artist and it is guaranteed to be completely unique to the projects.
Increased Role of A.I
Where and when an interaction happens is now as important as how or why. Is it on a phone? A tablet? Indoors or outdoors? What they are doing in that moment? There are varieties of situations at play when users interact with a product.
The UI designers of the world are in the charge of making that response as seamless and helpful as possible. Of course, they can’t instantaneously read a user’s context in a real time. But sophisticated and emergent AI engines can. Such as:
And many other varying forms of artificial intelligence are beginning to automate the web.
The consequent result is by all accounts a more prominent dependence on AI to analyze and interpret client connection, and after that arrange the best offers or arrangements taking into account the gathered information.
An interesting example of this is the development of online virtual assistants. Making speech interpretation smoother and responses to user requests instantaneous is the current focus and the results are becoming pretty impressive.
Programs like Cortana, Siri and GoButler are in a race to completely destroy the ability to anticipate between man and machine. Virtual assistants, such as these will make a big impact in the way users interact with web and mobile apps that are going forward.
As far as using AI insight into your own work, you can at least get started by using various WordPress plugins like The Client Relations Factory, which actually puts an animated and autonomous customer service representative on your website.
Mobile-first design will take firm hold in 2016, especially as wearable become more commonplace. Google Glass may have fallen a little flat, but HUD displays are not going to disappear completely. Not with Oculus Rift and other VR tech coming to the forward.
Designers have a whole new set of challenges making applications and even websites that are accessible on the new formats. Mozilla is already working on a VR compatible website and this sort of experiment is only going to multiply in the coming years.
Also, even though the screens may be smaller in the size but the principles of good UI design still matter. You will still want to consider color, typography, and most of all the screen size.
Split Screen Layouts
Another example of a break in the traditional layout scheme is the split screen.
Two distinct sections of content which contrast nicely, each side contains different imagery, intentions and CTAs. It is become pretty popular already and we can count on seeing this popularity continue in the near future.
Take a look at some of the smoother examples:
The advantage to the split layout gives users very clear binary options.
They can choose different paths as we see on a couple of the examples above. Or it can be an innovative way of getting more than one call to action on the page. Or just a simpler means of navigations, choosing the blue or the red pill. Of course, the biggest advantage is that it adds elements of visual interest to the page.
As described in the free Web Design Book of Trends 2015-2016:
“…microinteractions are the momentary events that all add up to create the final experience. These can be either active (entering a password or clicking the Like button) or passive (a “ding” sound for a new message).”
Microinteractions have a feel to as unassuming as possible. Each interaction should require as little thought and/or effort on the part of the user.
These can be achieved in a few clicks or perhaps in a more thorough process. In either case, a micro-interaction should consist of 4 steps:
The trigger is the starting action, such as a “read more” button or a notification. The rule is the predefined constraints which govern the interaction. This is usually intuitive, like the universal hamburger icon. A rule can also be a form that a user might need to fill out. Feedback is the response to the user’s action, and the loop is how long the interaction lasts or whether it is repeated. Modes are necessary disruptions from the micro-interaction. They are usually unwanted and should be used lightly, if at all.
Finally, we get to the good stuff. The whole point of design is to look good after all. And what looks better than cool animations? More to the point, the web has never looked better or more dynamic than it has today, and that is an ongoing trend.
Animations create engagement, enhance storytelling and boost interactivity. Things such as:
- Parallax scrolling
- Animations triggered by mouse hovers
- Loading bars
These all make a website seem more like an interactive experience than a simple portal to find information about a certain business, product, service or individual. To make the most of animations in 2016, it is important that you don’t have to go overboard. While some are speculating minimalism is coming to a swift end, this is not the space to cherish. Too much movement will scatter focus, distract, confuse and irritate users.
Keep animations simple, unobtrusive and thematically consistent. When I say “thematically” I mean from a storytelling perspective. Your site should unfold like a well-told narrative, revealing important details and guiding users down the path of you’re choosing. Use animations selectively to illustrate important points or to indicate a required action.
For example, the website molamil.com uses animations to highlight transitions. On their homepage, they begin by introducing their brand and then animate the transition to different entries in their portfolio.