Top Web Design Trends In 2016

Illustration of a web designers desk

What’s Hot In Web Design This Year?

Over the past decade we have seen web design trends come and go. Some were shot down and have yet to get back up. Some have stuck and have now become considered standard practice. Nearly six months into 2016, we taking a look to see which trends are still being talked about. In this article we look at what’s still being touted as the top web design trends in 2016.

We look at whether or not these web design trends will stick or fall short of the finishing line. We also look at each trend and give each one a rating in regards to the UX (User Experience).

So lets get started.

Hamburger Anyone?

You may not be all that familiar with the phrase ‘hamburger menu’ but there’s a good chance you would have used one at some point whilst accessing websites through your mobile or tablet.

It’s called the hamburger menu because, well – it looks like a very simple hamburger icon. It usually sits in the top right corner of your mobile or tablet screen and once clicked it will expand to the reveal the website menu. It’s clutter free and offers a great UX as it’s generally always available along the top of the screen. It saves on space and is only viewable when the user decides they wish to navigate elsewhere. Perfect.

So how is this a trend in 2016 when it’s been used in mobiles web and app design for a few years? Well, we’re now starting to see it being used on the desktop versions of quite a few websites. Is this good? Hmmm, well yes and no.

Firstly, as already mentioned it’s a great space saver. It’s nice and neat and it’s also very functional and offers clean design. But for the user it’s adding an additional click to actually get anywhere. In the web design business we’re kind of obsessed with reducing the number of clicks the user has to make to access any information. The fewer, the better. Secondly, site menus are deep seeded in the users mind. They’ve come to expect a site menu to sit along the top.

So the argument here could be that for some users, it may be difficult to locate the menu and for some users they simply aren’t aware that the ‘hamburger’ is in fact a menu. So this may cause a rise in a websites bounce rate. If a user can’t navigate to the pages they wish to access they’ll be leaving quicker than you can say top-level category.

So what to do? Here at westfourstreet, we quite like the theory behind it. But we have to question whether or not, as web designers and web developers if we should disregard usability purely for aesthetics. For this reason, the jury is still out.

Web Trend Rating: 3/5

Fancy A Ride On The Carousel?

They have been around for a long time, but they are back once again as one of the trends in web design in 2016.

Lets start with the good on this one. They provide a visual platform for your brand. Meaning that if you’re in the market of selling products then a website carousel at the top of your homepage can entice users from the get-go. They can also be interactive and offer very clear call to actions.

Now for the bad news. Carousels can be detrimental to your page speeds as they can rely on one, two maybe three or more scripts to load behind the scenes before the slides kick in. They also push your key content below the fold and whilst this isn’t as important a factor as it used to be, it’s still something to consider.

We quite like them and don’t lose any sleep over them. We’ve implemented them into many clients websites because we believe it was the right choice for that particular client and web project. As with all things web design, the content is king and the target audience is of equal value.

What is interesting is the more frequent use of hero video headers. With broadband speeds becoming quicker and the roll out of 4G, it’s becoming a more viable option. Something new to consider.

Web Trend Rating: 3/5

What Type Of Font Are You?

Long gone are the days when a web designer was restricted to just a handful of fonts to be used on the web. Thanks to such resources as Typekit and Google Fonts we now have a huge library of fonts that can be rendered on most if not all modern web browsers.

This particular trend just keeps coming back each year due to the ever expanding number of fonts that can be used. It’s perfect if you have a very specific brand identity and it can really make your site stand out. We’re huge fans!

Our only advice would be to not go crazy. Try to minimise the number of different fonts you use on your site and try to keep them clean. It’s always important to remember that not every user has perfect eyesight. So you don’t want o exclude users who may have difficulty reading your site titles because you found a typeface that on a huge billboard works great, but when made smaller and used on a smaller screen it’s very difficult to make out what the title actually says.

Styles that look set to dominate are brighter, bolder and with an 80s style theme to them.

Web Trend Rating: 4/5

A ‘Scroll’ In The Park

Another trend that has come into play in 2016 is trying to find ways to avoid the need to scroll down a webpage. For one, it can make a website a lot cleaner and can force copywriters to rethink how they write for the web. Trying to minimise websites is an understandable trend. A typical web users may only spend between 3-5 minutes on any given website (social media sites not included). So the desire for a lot of companies is to give the user what they want and quickly.

Short paragraphs and obvious call to action buttons appear to be a popular choice. In addition to this, if more content is required then you can give that power to the user and allow them to make the decision to view more.

Great content compensates for the need to scroll

Whether or not a lack of content is good for SEO is up for debate. But it’s always important to remember that users won’t mind reading through your content if it’s worth their time and effort. Great content compensates for the need to scroll.

This trend is one to keep an eye on in 2016. It may prove to be very popular.

Web Trend Rating: 4/5

Infographics

Recently we wrote an article on the influence infographics and how they can be used to avoid bloated content on your website and really engage users.

We’re pleased to see that rich and subtle animations are really becoming a hot trend in 2016. But lets be honest, they were in 2015 too. But the difference this time around is that web designers and developers are creating ways that the load times for these type of graphics are very minimal. In fact some of the ones we have used or seen actually take little to no time at all to load on the screen.

You may not even notice some of them being that they are so subtle. But you’ll be familiar with some examples if you happen to use Twitter or Facebook. Facebook have recently introduced additional options to their ‘like’ option. If you’ve used this feature in the past few months you will notice the animations being used for the various expressions of emotion.

The same applies to Twitter too. The small animation that occurs when you favourite a tweet is both rich and subtle. It’s a nice transition when you ‘heart’ a tweet.

We love infographics in web design and we look forward to seeing the new and inventive ways they are used and obviously here too, we will be looking to utilise them for our clients.

I addition to infographics, the use of illustrations look set to become more frequent and widely used too.

Web Trend Rating: 5/5

In Conclusion

The examples above offer some interesting insights as to where web design may be heading this year. Some of the examples seem to be propping up on the trends list each year it would seem. But this is most likely because technical advances in those ares are constantly evolving and being enhanced further.

Web design really does not stand still. It’s comforting to know that even though some trends seem to make the list each year, it’s because they just keeping better and new ideas on how to use these features are being put forward.

It’s also reassuring to see that usability and accessibility are still being considered whilst we as web designers and web developers continue to push the envelope in order to deliver richer experiences to users.

It’s only natural that we all want to find new ways to create engaging and interactive interfaces for users whilst still being considerate towards accessibility. It’s a fine line, that much is true.