It is the time of the year when we like to take stock of past experiences and conversations, learn and look ahead to what the next twelve months will hold.
So, what about Web design trends in 2017?
One of the more pertinent observations must be the continuing trend, started a few years ago, of people increasingly using their mobile device to surf or search the Web. Even when there is a computer available nearby, at home or at work, 77% of people will use a mobile device (1).
If the content is not mobile optimised, research shows that 79% will leave and search for another site to complete their task. Furthermore, it is expected that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020(2).
Google are emphasising mobile user experience in their mobile ranking algorithm, with a strong preference for responsive design.
Design small first
It follows that the design starting point should be the mobile screen and then work up to the increasingly larger screens, and not the other way around. It helps to focus on the hierarchical ordering of content and on retaining what is essential.
To stand out from the crowd, companies are increasingly using storytelling to get their personality to shine through.
We will see layouts that promote the content. Content is after all the reason people visit websites. It is therefore the role of the designer to arrange the page elements in such a manner to make the content intuitively accessible to the visitor.
Some time ago, ‘Content is king’ was de rigueur and the motto is coming back. The environment in which it is displayed has changed though, it is pared down to a minimalist level, removing the page elements that distracted from the content. The trend started with flat design, in which recreating real objects with 3D effects were abolished, e.g. shadows, 3D buttons and such. This lead to minimalist design; some might say that it caused the design to become soulless.
The focus on content will continue to grow.
Maybe in response to the minimalist bareness mentioned above, the use of geometry has developed. Retaining the foundations of the flat design, the use of geometrical shapes and lines in the overall design has gained traction, or of circles or other geometrical shapes around images, or of geometrical heavy images.
Geometry offers endless creative possibilities for designers to experiment with.
Images will speak a thousand words; used wisely, they will convey the right ones. The use of the hero image at the top of the page gained momentum last year. It conveys a strong branding message and we will see more of it in 2017.
The use of stock images is now being frowned upon. Smiling executives around a table and pointing to a screen no longer cut it; they don’t tell the right story nor do they add to the visitors’ perception and understanding of the company.
Custom photography or images that create the right mood and convey the right message are the trend now.
Headings are moving away from the traditional style. They have taken their flight to become more imaginative and creative, and in some cases, even disappear altogether.
Typography, an underrated medium to set the personality and create emotion, is coming into sharp focus with oversized typography to create the mood.
Typography is often coupled with parallax scrolling effect. Parallax scrolling involves the background moving at a slower rate to the foreground, creating a 3D effect as you scroll down the page. Done well, it will retain the visitors’ attention and create a positive experience.
What can be more versatile than a bespoke illustration? Once the personality and tone have been found, illustration can be rolled out into all areas of the website: header images, iconography, drawings, animations.
Static images are all well and good, but the use of animations will enhance the user experience. They can go from the full blown whole page animation to the micro-interaction on hover. We will see more animations in the months to come.
Videos are by no means new to the Web to capture the visitor’s attention and draw him/her in to be presented with the story and the message.
Video will continue to grow and become an essential medium.
Colour creates moods and emotions. Browser technology progress has improved the rendering of colour and of gradients. We will see more brave colours, sometimes quite controversial and the use of gradients that may displace the images.
These salient points in 2017 Web trends make us look forward to some great designs, dominated by content focused layout, brave colours and gradients, videos, and animations.
- Source Experience dynamics, Google and Nielsen study, 2013
- Source Experience dynamics, Customers 2020. The future of B2B customer experience, 2014