Web design trends come and go every year, and it’s important for designers and business owners to keep up with them in order to stay up-to-date and avoid having an outdated website. Although minor trends pop up for what seems like every month, we’ll only talk about major trends in this article: simplicity, storytelling, and responsive design.
You would think the meaning of simplicity is pretty obvious, but many people are probably thinking of the wrong idea. I’m not saying that websites need to be simple or plain, but they need to follow best usability practices in order to make the user experience as seamless as possible.
Simplicity means to avoid cluttering your website or adding useless information that your users do not need. Just because you think something needs to be on your website doesn’t mean it actually does. This is where you can do split testing to reach a decisive conclusion rather than one driven by your personal opinions and bias.
Remember, websites serve an important purpose for your customers. They are the true users of your website and you need to accommodate their needs, not yours.
With regard to the word simplicity in context with design, it also refers to minimalism design. Getting your message across without the need to have excessive design elements just for the hell of it. I always say it’s better to have a completely white Web page with just clean type and superb product images than a Web page that seems like it was over-designed for the sake of design.
Design is about telling the message effectively, not about looking pretty, albeit the latter ends up being the side effect of it in many cases.
A few examples of websites that have used simplicity well:
Although storytelling has been part of Web design for a while, it’s only recently come alive by use of animations and user interactivity. The idea is that as the user scrolls down the page, your website would morph along the way to tell your story in a visual and exciting manner.
People are much more likely to give you their attention if you make it fun for them rather than force them to read 10 paragraphs about your company and why you’re the best.
A great example of this is the new Coin product that holds all your credit cards. Although they have a video that explains the product in a commercial-like style, you really only need to scroll down the page to understand the concept. As you scroll down, the multiple credit cards that are illustrated merge into one, which then moves down the page and swipes through the card reader just like a regular credit card. And when you continue scrolling down the page, it continues to showcase some of the important safety features of the card. It takes less than 30 seconds to view the entire page and get the whole concept of the product, and that is a winning design. Simplicity + storytelling!
3. Responsive Design
Yes, everyone has heard of Responsive Web Design (RWD) and it’s not a new concept at this point; however, it’s important to reiterate it again for this year since mobile is quickly becoming the new standard. And because mobile is becoming the new standard, that means there will never be a set website size anymore.
While thinking of how to implement RWD, keep in mind the two previous trends: simplicity and storytelling. Does the story slightly change in portrait vs. landscape mode? After all, RWD is not about squishing content to make it fit onto a different-sized screen. It is about transforming your website in order to tell the message effectively. And what’s effective on a desktop-sized website will not necessary be as effective on mobile, even if you manage to fit it all onto the mobile screen size.
Do not be afraid to remove or add elements based on screen size and device type. Even when Ethan Marcotte originally wrote about RWD, he mentioned thinking out of the box a bit. It’s not just about changing the width of the layout, but rather revamping the page to improve the user experience across all different platforms and devices.
There’s literally too many great examples of RWD to list out here, but I will say that Twitter Bootstrap website itself is a great example and an even better framework for your next project.