There are a ton of “trend” posts out there. Many of these give a handful of examples and say, “Hey, everyone’s doing this now.” The problem is just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it makes sense for your site. So, rather than just show some pretty examples (which might not apply to your business at all), this post focuses on what these trends are best at accomplishing. This will hopefully give you enough to decide if they will help support your brand goals.
1. Subtle Animations
Simple, well-placed animations are a great way to improve user experience. Not only does it add a little dose of delight to the browsing experience, but it also gives users a visual clue as to what’s most important on a page. And, since you control where the animation is placed, you can use it to emphasize content that is important to your business goals.
Animation breathes life into your pages. This movement helps keep users engaged and avoid the potential for monotony on long-scrolling pages. As a new section of content is being introduced, a subtle animation or micro interaction can help cue the transition and encourage your readers to keep exploring.
Don’t overdo the animation, however. Too much of it could negatively impact loading times or get in the way. Users want to be delighted, not impeded. And a huge decrease in page performance could impact your search rankings. Make sure your animation is well-designed, well-timed, and well-placed.
2. Bold Duotone Images
The duotone technique has been a staple of print work for years (especially with printmakers), but vibrant duotone images are growing more common in digital media. And for good reason. They let designers take a striking image and drench it in color to convey a mood or brand. This is a great technique for brands that want to maintain a strict color palette or develop a signature aesthetic across a range of design assets.
Cutting back on the number of colors in an image also allows bold text to be read more easily when placed on top. This can be a major win for website designs featuring copy overlays. The improved contrast and luminosity ratios can even help with accessibility, on top of user experience.
This trend seems to get more ubiquitous by the day, but when used well, it can be very effective. The fact that some major brands are jumping on board with this trend probably explain its widespread popularity.
3. Static Left Navigation
Left navigation has been around for quite some time, but it had fallen out of favor in recent years. This was especially true for homepage designs. (It’s still a common solution for interior or secondary navigation.) Now that many sites have navigation across the top of the page, designers have been reintroducing static, left navigation as an alternative.
A left navigation is a particularly effective solution when a site follows a linear narrative or a timeline. In these cases, it not only provides a means of navigation, but it also acts as a point of reference indicating where they are on the site. If the visitor is expected to journey through a long-scrolling homepage, a static left navigation can help visitors orient themselves—or even jump forward and backward. You can even track engagement with the left navigation to see what content is resonating with your visitors.
4. Brutalist web design
Brutalism is a reactionary design movement. There are numerous “best practices” that are well-established in web design. Brutalist designs (for better or worse) tend to throw all of that out the window. Some critics complain that all website designs look the same or are at least converging in some way. As an act of rebellion against that, some designers have started breaking rules, as well as expectations, regarding to how a website should function.
Brutalist websites get noticed. You’ve probably seen some of them, even if you didn’t know the term. Their designs stand out from the pack, since they break with traditional archetypes. Sure, sometimes they look like the design didn’t load correctly, but some of the minimalist versions are also incredibly readable and accessible. These can be great for websites that need to provide a high-quality, content-focused site, while maintaining a trendy brand.
Some best practices are best practices for a reason though—they have been tested to improve usability or legibility. Arguably, that leaves many brutalist sites difficult to use—or even unusable (especially for users with accessibility issues). However, most sites can incorporate aspects of brutalist design without a total commitment. Bright colors, unusual breaks, or quirky animations can provide some of the freshness of brutalism, while maintaining usability.
Explore some examples of brutalist websites at conveniently titled: brutalistwebsites.com.
2017 is approaching quickly, and a new year will bring new trends. Web design evolves quickly, so it’s important to do what’s best for your brand long-term, instead of simply jumping on a bandwagon because “everyone else is doing it.” Remember to always keep your overall brand goals in mind and have some fun trying out some of these ideas. Not sure which trends will work best for your site? Give us a call!