Web design is a constantly evolving field. You only need to look at websites designed a few years ago to notice that they look positively ancient in their design ideology and the technology deployed on the site. Modern sites look entirely different, offering a better experience to the web users.
Here are some top trends for web design in 2018.
The Google search engine is switching from a Desktop first strategy to a Mobile first one. Website designers need to consider the fact that the difference here is that Google will soon be indexing websites based on what is shown on their mobile pages and not their desktop version.
For designers, this changes things considerably. They have to think about what goes into a mobile version of a site – a truncated version of the information with simplified design elements or the same content with a faster-loading template? You need to find a provider that will make the right choices such as https://www.iprogress.co.uk/ that have experience working with a range of clients and will be able dedicate time to spotting problems early. As when getting this choice wrong, client sites will no longer feature the right information in Google search.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a new approach to making mobile ready pages. It’s a completely separate page design for mobile access. It’s not an adaptive or responsive design that adjusts the appearance of the main page based on the size of the viewing screen. In some ways, it flies in the face of more recent design developments that have used better coding practices and improved web browser technology to get away from designing and coding multiple versions of the same site.
Mobile first and AMP don’t necessarily fit well together. This is because while mobile first calls for indexing the mobile site as the primary one, it changes what information searchers can find from a web search. For designers, AMP uses a second site version with each page designed and coded differently to the primary site. Regardless of the added workload, AMP is picking up interest with news sites and e-commerce alike because it reduces distracting unnecessary design elements in favour of usability, page loading times, and conversion rates.
Animation is coming into its own in 2018. It has come a long way from its early beginnings with rudimentary animation effects used as a crude, eye-catching distraction, rather than being functional or useful. However, with the advent of animated GIFs being used in Facebook Messenger and on web pages, people are used to seeing animated memes as clips from live events, TV shows, movies, and other formats.
Original animations using whiteboards and other backdrops are often used to better illustrate a concept that would otherwise take a long article to conceptualise clearly to the reader. Animation captures the attention of the visitor on the page and increases on-page time which is a Google ranking factor too. Some animation formats and internet speeds permit 60 frames per second of animation sequences; 30 FPS is the minimal standard necessary to visualise smooth animation effects.
Layouts that Break the Grid
Web design is traditionally made up of columns or grids. Breaking out of the grid or column layout has always been difficult. You can do so using negative margins to push text backwards to overlap a previous column, but it’s tricky. These types of CSS tricks work in some web browsers and look completely different in others. Therefore, while you may get a page looking great in the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome on Android could jump the shark with the text in the wrong place entirely.
Nevertheless, adventurous web designers are starting to play with fire by using lettering and CSS manipulations to try to break out of the grid and column design restrictions. Doing so produces different web designs that haven’t been seen before. This is an interesting trend, but we would stress the need for testing across all major browsers and platforms before going live.
Typography Coming into its Own
With Google Web Fonts, typography on the web page came into its own. No longer were designers restricted to selecting from a handful of fonts that were present on Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile operating systems and browsers. To break free of the restrictions, previously a designer had to create beautiful typography inside Photoshop and then add a graphical header to replace the standard text to get the look on the page that they wanted. This made using attractive-looking headlines slow to load and cumbersome. Thankfully, they can now import a Google web font into a site quickly and have over 800 fonts to choose from.
A move back towards fonts with serifs – those swirls at the corners of a letter making it harder to read – is expected this year. With higher definition displays becoming more commonplace now, it’s no longer as necessary to keep using sans-serif fonts (non-swirl fonts) alone to make them human readable. The mixing of interesting serif and sans serif fonts is also becoming more commonplace as designers look for interesting combinations and use of colours to create plenty of visual distinction.
Using illustrations instead of photos is becoming more common too. When dealing with products and photography, the included photos either focus on the product itself or how it will improve the lifestyle of the person who buys it (to appeal to them emotionally, not logically). However, this isn’t always the best two ways to go.
When using illustrations, a web designer can create a visually appealing image that explains information about a product, its intended use or the vision behind it. More elements can be included in a single illustration that shows more than a single photo by telling a compelling story. There’s also a tendency for humans to be less judgemental when viewing an illustration instead of a modelled photo from a shoot which tends to kick the criticism engine into high gear for some people.
Flat design or non-flat design. Previously small graphics had shadows and textures to create depth to get around the limitations of screen quality and resolution at the time. Once this was overcome, designers moved to using an all flat design with logos and icons which swept the design world with many popular apps changing their logos accordingly.
Flat design isn’t done, but designers are now venturing back into semi-flat design that adds back some depth to the visuals to avoid it coming off as too flat. One of the problems with flat design has been that almost every site switched to it in the same year which made all the visuals start to blend in together through their sameness. With a move in 2018 to backtrack a little to a semi-flat appearance, some designers are recognising that a little added depth goes a long way.
Web design trends come and go. The better ones stick around for several years as visitors to websites get used to them and spend longer on sites that use those tricks. Many earlier web design ideas were based around restrictions on what computers could view and the technology of the time. As technological improvements feed through to the masses, web designers are freer to use the full capabilities of graphical displays. A lot of the trends in web design this year revolve around updates and improvements that weren’t possible a few years ago. The full range of skills and creative ideas can be utilised to produce outstanding web designs for their clients to standout in the crowded marketplace.