“Technology over technique produces emotionless design.” – Daniel Mall
Each year we take a look at the hottest trends in web design to give you an inside look at how they’ll shape the industry in the coming year.
Here’s what to look for in 2018:
Double Down on Mobile
The industry has been moving towards mobile for years now. In early to mid 2018 Google will be rolling out their Mobile First Index, making the mobile version of your website the first to be seen in search results.
This means that your website needs to be designed for mobile first.
This can’t be understated and should not be a surprise, since 2015 Google has continuously updated their search algorithms to reflect this. According to Google’s Inside AdWords Blog, “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan.”
Accelerated Mobile Pages are also becoming more important. AMP is an open source project to improve mobile user experience by stripping down code, running scripts in parallel and using external resources for media files, allowing pages to load instantly.
When you are designing a website it’s essential that you also design an AMP version. Designing an AMP version of your page is important for a variety of reasons but primarily so your customers can find you quickly. No one likes to wait for a page that loads slowly. If you’re out somewhere, not connected to Wi-Fi, searching for a business or a restaurant, which business would you be more likely to choose? The business whose website takes 15 seconds to load or the business whose website is optimized for Accelerated Mobile Pages and loads instantly?
This is more of a principle and less of a trend, having an adaptive website is more important than ever. Responsive design means that your website will be designed to look great on any format; mobile, tablets, game consoles, wearables or TV or desktop.
Think of about how water fluidly adapts to the confines of different containers. That’s the idea behind responsive web design. Build user friendly websites, focused on great content with the intention of seamlessly conforming to any device.
This isn’t a new idea, the UX revolution has been in progress for almost a decade but only recently has its adoption been implemented on a wider scale. Expect to see this design element continue to expand in 2018, evolving to include new forms technology such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
SVGs or Scalable Vector Graphics will be used more as an alternative to JPG, PNG and GIF. SVGs are composed of vectors, not pixel-based, which gives them a lot of advantages over traditional image formats. They are scalable, you can animate them and they won’t affect page speed because they don’t require any HTTP requests.
Look for more 360 degree views, Cinemographs, 3D and other forms of interactivity to keep users entertained in the coming year.
Facebook recently announced that it would rank slow loading links further down on people’s newsfeeds. You could be losing exposure, money and even potential customers because of poorly designed, slow loading websites and landing pages. If you’re spending any money on Facebook ads you need to check the page speed of your promoted content, this could seriously damage your reach as well as your level of engagement. This should also reemphasize the importance of responsive design and mobile page speed.
According to Yahoo’s Flurry Analytics, apps now account for 90% of time spent on mobile devices. Not only does this make Apps and App Store optimization something to start considering but also means that your website needs to look great when users access them through an app.
Irregular Grid Layouts
As a design theory, grid layouts provide a simple way to tie all the elements of a web page together. Grid layouts have been around since indigenous peoples crossed the bearing straight into North America but only recently have they been incorporated into academic design theory.
Designing pages with a grid system establishes a theme, makes your page more user friendly and easier to navigate, which is very important if you want users to find all the great content you’ve produced.
Most CMS use grid design as the basis for their templates. WordPress themes are based on a grid system, Joomla templates use grids, Twitter Bootstrap has grid templates.
CSS grid was also introduced in March of 2017 and it gives designers a wider range of grid layouts to work with.
In 2018 look for a shift towards ultra-modern design as designers utilize more neutral space and irregular grid layouts.
The Golden Ratio isn’t going away anytime soon.
Minimalistic design never really goes out of style. Think white space. More white space in your website design makes written content stand out and easier to read. More white space will also make your website easier on people’s eyes possibly decreasing your bounce rate.
But when we talk about minimalism its more than just white space, minimalism also applies to the concept of design as a whole, make sure your website doesn’t have too many distractions, like slow loading animations and cluttered looking call to actions.
Seriously consider what’s included in the early design phases. Ask yourself the question: Does this contribute to user experience? If not it needs to go. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. User experience should always be paramount when it comes to web design.
Flat design has been in vogue for several years but in 2017 semi-flat design became more prevalent and seems like it will continue to grow in 2018.
Semi-flat design incorporates the simplistic, clean feeling of flat design while including subtle shading for greater depth and complexity. It’s been featured prominently in Google logos and PayPal.
If you plan on incorporating this design element be prepared for something better to come along mid-year and lay your best laid plans to semi-waste. It’s all the rage at the present moment but how long does semi-flat design really have before it’s just another forgotten trend that we look back on in twenty years semi-fondly?
“Do you remember the website we had in the mid-2010s?”
“What was that design theme called we used for that one? Semi-hard…Semi-flaccid?
Big Bold Type and Bright Colors
Big Bold type helps your users focus on the most important part of your website, the content. And just like white space it makes content easier to read and skim through which is what most people do because they are simply overwhelmed with information.
But let’s be honest nobody’s reading your blog, ok maybe your wife is, mine is not. Sure, you might have some views but really what’s happening is readers see a headline and if you’re lucky they scroll down to try and glean the most important points out of what you’ve just spent the last week pouring your heart and soul into.
But not to worry, use some bright colors and quirky color scheme, that’ll be sure to catch their attention. The goal is to keep people on your website for as long as possible and hopefully convert them into customers.
AI Chat Bots
If you want an incredibly frustrating experience talk to an AI Chat Bot and if you’d like an even more frustrating one try programing an AI Chat Bot.
I thought the whole point of technology was to make life simpler.
Chat bots aren’t all bad though, Facebook has developed some decent bots for their Messenger App but don’t try having a nuanced conversation with one.
A media company in China recently had to shut their chat bot down after it rebelled against the Communist Party. This should hammer home the point that AI chat bots still have a long way to go and you might want to be careful before turning the keys to your business over to a chat bot, remember the only interest they serve is their own.
We experimented with a Twitter Cyborg on one of the accounts we manage briefly in January 2017 until it unfollowed 4,000 people in an hour got me locked out of the account and then an hour after signing back in it retweeted an anti-vaxxer post, after that I pulled it off line.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the hottest thing in the world right now and that means that there are lot of people trying to capitalize on business owner’s fear of missing out. Make sure the technology you pay for is worth the cost before forking over any cash.
Great Design in 2018
In 2018 the focus will be on designing simple but beautiful websites that reinforce brand integrity be it personal or business. It’s essential that the design process take mobile into account as well as responsiveness and user experience. The future is changing rapidly with augmented reality and virtual reality just on the horizon but minimalistic grid layouts will continue to be the primary design choice. Remember, before you hire a web designer or take a DIY approach, your website will often be your customer’s first impression.