Having spent some time this January reflecting on the lessons learned in 2014, as well as the big news of the past year, I’m now turning my thoughts to 2015 and the trends I predict will dominate web design over the next 12 months.
Creating mobile-friendly websites
If you’re not already focusing on building mobile-friendly websites, then I think it’s safe to say that you should be. In November 2014, Google received more traffic via mobile phones than desktops for the first time and it’s a trend that looks set to grow as more and more of us live our lives via the touch of a smartphone.
Google is already penalising websites that offer a poor mobile experience but, in November, the search engine juggernaut announced that it will be experimenting with awarding websites a ‘mobile-friendly’ label that could count as a ranking signal. Businesses will be asking, “How can you make our website more mobile friendly?”
As web designers, our challenge is to create websites that offer a consistently high quality experience however the visitor is viewing the site. Improving page speed and a website’s technical performance will also become even more central to creating a good user experience on mobile phones. These days, web users won’t wait for a page to load or an animation to kick in – they expect a website to look good and perform. Our job is to make that happen.
Responsive web design is also crucial because it allows the same website to be viewed on different devices, while offering a consistent customer experience. And we mustn’t forget this. The big fear is that designers will become so focused on mobile users that we’ll see a swathe of sites that only look good when viewed on a mobile phone. Desktop users aren’t going away any time soon, so we need to strike a balance.
Card-based web design
Continuing on the mobile-friendly theme, a major trend in 2015 promises to be card-based web design. Pinterest has been hugely influential when it comes to creating easily digestible web content that displays well on mobile screens. Card-based web design particularly lends itself to image-based sites, product sites, property sites or car sales websites, for example.
Card-based sites are leading what is essentially a ‘re-architecture’ of the web, moving away from whole pages to individual pieces of content that enable website visitors to create a unique view of a site according to their interests or search needs. Imagine leafing through a stack of baseball cards and pulling out the ones you want to collect, as well as being able to turn them over to view extra stats or information. You can shuffle them in any order or display them in any combination. This is what card-based sites offer.
Google, Twitter, Facebook and many other sites are moving more towards a card-based design, so that users can easily share a specific component. This trend only looks set to grow.
Parallax sites will continue to appear
Parallax sites have been big news since 2013 but the recent release of a number of parallax scrolling templates in WordPress means that parallax sites will become more prominent in 2015. Certainly, parallax sites have many advantages:
- Better page depth and animation
- A storytelling approach to showcasing the message and content
- Scroll down one page
- Provokes curiosity
- Innovative and interactive
- Clear calls to action
Of course, parallax sites aren’t always the best solution, despite their user-friendly design because SEO can take a hit and load speed can be an issue, particularly on mobile phones. There are SEO solutions, which revolve around considering the SEO architecture of the site and the Schema markup as just a few examples. I found this helpful article on Moz with more SEO recommendations for parallax scrolling.
Micro UX is described as ‘a small element in a product’s design, focused entirely on a single task. These simple interactions and effects are primarily designed to create an interesting and hopefully unique experience for the user’.
The use of Micro UX features in web design has been growing exponentially over recent years. Details such as hover effects, sliding boxes, thumbnail product details, the refresh icon on Facebook, slide out menus, loading animations, percentage bars, Google’s autofill, hover zooms, and the ‘Typing…’ message in Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger are all examples of how Micro UX is humanising websites and creating a unique experience.
As web designers, we face the challenge of bringing these elements to our clients’ websites to make tasks easier and more enjoyable for their visitors.
These design features
Thinking about the design features that we’ll see more of in 2015, I think we can expect:
- Ghost buttons that subtly attract the user’s attention without being a prominent, distracting call to action
- Hidden menus – these are often seen on responsive websites when viewed via a mobile device because hiding the navigation menus saves valuable screen space
- Dynamic and animated charts – these can show periods of growth or actively make side by side comparisons, adding a new level of movement and interactivity to previously static graphics and data
- Big fonts – big fonts are mobile-friendly, attention grabbing and make an impact
- Modular scrolling – have the background image or information on a site scroll, while other information is fixed or pinned to the foreground
- Shades of colour – instead of contrasting colour schemes, we’ll see more and more websites that are based around one vibrant colour and its surrounding shades
So, these are my big web design predictions for 2015. Are there any that I’ve missed? What’s the big news for you right now? What would you like to learn more about? I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
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