In 2014 the four elements of graphic design, UX, copywriting and coding seem to have all aligned harmoniously to create better websites as a standard.
Programing and graphic design are no longer competing, they’re collaborating. Text and visuals are no longer fighting for individual attention. They’re having a steamy affair instead.
Is 2014 a golden era of web design? Below are 14 web design trends that are making websites beautiful and functional in every way.
Tone of Voice….Can I be your friend!
Since 2012 web sites became friendlier on a whole and today every website is adopting a casual, informal, trendy and friendly tone. Social media made everyone social and everyone needs a human touch to sell but the business and internet world itself changed. A new generation of businesses broke the tone of being formally professional to make themselves likeably professional and that’s what we’ll be seeing more of in 2014; a friendly, informal tone.
Scrolling Vs the Click
I remember when clients were adamant on staying above the fold (no scrolling allowed). In 2014 scrolling is back with a vengeance to make the most of any given space whether it is widescreen or just straight down.
Around three years ago everything had to be clickable and preferably above the fold. Today, you can go down as far as you want and spread out your clicks with relevance. Clicks are still important but not so pushy which leads me onto….
The sales Journey
In 2013 the term “sales journey” adopted a new style for consultancies and services. The journey has turned into a story and instead of a long boring novel full of text, it’s now short and sweet chapters like a children’s book with illustrations leading to a greater message.
No sales journey will be forceful or too long. Its quick, simple and short leading to the next part of the story and eventually a sale.
Larger and better visuals
Big HD photos and super cool illustrations are fast becoming common place on websites because everyone is investing in design as a way to separate themselves truthfully and uniquely from the next website. Larger and better visuals provide a solution for attracting attention, selling a message or just providing plain old style to any given business and it does the job quickly. It’s also allowing graphic design to come into its full glory online. With hi-res screens comes hi-res design.
The availability of custom fonts has been around now for a while but it’s finally come to a pretty stable solution allowing custom fonts to be used persistently. It’s was a necessity that was denied to both designers and developers for years, so much so that it became a luxury but now it’s finally available commonly and you can expect websites to take advantage of this element fully with creativity.
Flat Vs Skeuomorphism Vs Gradients
Flat design was a big hit in 2013 because it was a good change that the design industry need. It de-cluttered years of gradients, gloss and drop shadows putting Web 2.0 and 3.0 to bed but to be honest, as a designer it’s a bit of a shame to push it out completely.
Whilst flat design whilst likely reign through 2014, I think that skeuomorphism, gradients and drop shadows will make its way back into the design world with a new refined and subtle approach. One that works with flat design as oppose to contradict it.
Expect soft gradients, soft drop shadows and subtle skeuomorphism to creep back in during 2014 and 2015.
This has become the buzzword for 2014. The easiest way to describe it is 2d animation which looks 3D and is activated upon scroll. 2 elements are moving at different speed to immerse the user in a depth of field. It can be used subtly or substantially and can do wonders to tell a story.
Whilst it is becoming popular it can also struggle with mobile devices. It’s certainly the most creative trend yet but could also turn out to be a fad if devices and browsers can’t keep up.
Animation & video
Video has been thriving but when flash phased out, web based animation seemed to have disappeared. Apps became a more popular platform for animators however with HTML5, CSS and Adobe Edge becoming more creative, I think that web based animation will make a comeback possibly in the form of video presentations as well as subtle details to enhance UX design.
Whilst I mentioned fix position menus in 2013, todays menus have gone a step further with scrolling options, fly out menus and minimised dropdowns for mobile use. Navigation is an all important factor for any interface and is heavily affected by any new tech. As smart watches and glasses evolve so will our idea of navigation for web. With these navigation menus could itself slowly die out because the best most intuitive menu would be to not have one at all.
Users hate forms on mobile devices so designers and developers are making forms as simple as possible. Where the idea of a form may have once been a long process to pre-qualify users, today it’s a case of getting any data possible in the simplest and quickest way.
Content remains king
The term content was once reserved for text but today main content could be a button, an image or even a video. Optimising sites for mobile delivery can be tricky simply because the main content has to remain king and that’s a trend that has come to fruition with all the above developments. Whatever design, trend or sales journey you’re using, the main content is remaining king on any device.
Touching has unconsciously had a big impact on web design. Little things like hover over are becoming obsolete. Layout for fingers is all new considerations that are having an effect on web design. This is a trend, problem and solution that will grow in 2014. Touch is taking over but you’ll still need a click on a desktop computer.
We’ve seen an increasing number of sites that that use portraits for main images to add that personal human touch. Personal brands on a whole have been on a rise but the portrait is not exclusive to personal branding. Some consultancies (usually creative) are also adopting the self- portrait format to add an honest insight into the company.
Simplifying the Mobile affect
The growth mobile browsing is amazing and every single trend above is an effect of the mobile device on web design. Designers, coders and copywriters have learned to simplify their techniques to make them cleaner, clearer, impactful and overall better to produce a unified response to digital design that works.
Physically, psychologically and intuitively all the new trends are delivering the best web experience possible by designing them with the intention of being available to all users and all devices.
Whilst I think that 2014 is a golden era for web design it also represents a clear shift towards the future of web browsing.
What do you think?